US Ambassador Puts Pressure on Canada to Buy Boeing

On board a CP-140 Aurora maritime patrol aircraft. Technicians operate advanced surveillance equipment developed and built in Canada by General Dynamics Missions Systems-Canada

U.S. ambassador David Cohen has reportedly sent a letter to federal cabinet ministers urging them to continue through with the purchase of Boeing P-8 Poseidon surveillance aircraft to replace the aging fleet of Lockheed CP-140 Aurora maritime patrol aircraft. One of the target ministers was Treasury Board president Anita Anand who, when previously serving as Minister of Defence, led the effort to begin sole-sourcing the Aurora’s replacement to Boeing, despite vigorous opposition from Bombardier and the premiers of both Quebec and Ontario.

When the Ottawa Citizen newspaper, who reported this story, approached Ambassador Cohen for comments, he replied, “I am not going to confirm or comment on any private diplomatic correspondence.”

U.S. Ambassador David Cohen. Photo credit: Ashley Fraser

Cohen nevertheless went on to comment, “It is important to remember that there is significant economic benefit for Canadian small and medium-sized enterprises even when a procurement is through the U.S. Department of Defense for a platform produced by a U.S. company.” Cohen also added, “The U.S. Department of Defense procurement process is, with very few exceptions, open to Canadian companies through the U.S.-Canada Defense Production Sharing Agreement. No other country has that benefit.”

In its proposal for an Aurora replacement, Bombardier has partnered with General Dynamics Missions Systems-Canada, which has extensive experience in developing advanced, Canadian-built systems that previously upgraded the CP-140 Auroras. GDMS-Canada had wanted Boeing to include this system in their P-8 Poseidon aircraft proposed for Canada, but Boeing eventually rejected it.