Provinces Press Bombardier Bailout

Ontario and Quebec are urging federal CSeries money.
Ontario and Quebec are urging federal CSeries money.

The two provinces with the most to lose if Bombardier fails are stepping up pressure on the federal government to chip in financial aid for the company’s CSeries program.

Ontario and Quebec both host major manufacturing and engineering plants employing
thousands of workers. Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne and Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard took time out of a federal-provincial climate meeting in Vancouver on Wednesday to press the case for federal money.

Couillard called the CSeries the most “important innovative project now in Canada that will benefit all of Canada, yes Quebec, but also other parts of the country,”

in a media scrum outside the conference, which is being attended by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and federal ministers.

Quebec has poured $1 billion into Bombardier to take a 49.5 percent stake in CSeries and gain two of five seats on a new board of directors to govern the project. It wants the feds to match the contribution and get two seats on an expanded seven-member board.

Ontario hasn’t pledged any cash but Wynne nevertheless thinks Ottawa should.

“It’s an important national company and if we look at the sectors that are our strengths in this country, and in Ontario, aerospace is one of those sectors, and Bombardier is a very, very important company in Ontario,” Wynne said.

Not everyone around the table shared those thoughts, however. Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall earlier questioned the wisdom of federal involvement suggesting the money might be better spent supporting the ailing oil and gas sector.

The federal government remains coy about when or if it will cut a cheque, however, saying only that it continues to review the request from Bombardier. It’s believed a key element of the federal government’s involvement would be the wresting of control of the company from the Bombardier family, which rules the firm through a preferred share structure.