Bom­bardier bat­tle

Ot­tawa to re­view Boe­ing mil­i­tary bids in Canada


The fed­eral gov­ern­ment hinted Thurs­day that Boe­ing should not take fu­ture mil­i­tary con­tracts with Canada for granted, a veiled threat that co­in­cided with a spat be­tween the aerospace gi­ant and ri­val Bom­bardier.

For­eign Af­fairs Min­is­ter Chrys­tia Free­land’s com­ment that it’s “re­view­ing cur­rent mil­i­tary pro­cure­ment that re­lates to Boe­ing” ap­peared to be a notso-sub­tle hint that the gov­ern­ment would re­visit its pur­chase of Su­per Hor­nets.

The gov­ern­ment has said it plans to sole-source 18 Su­per Hor­nets as a stop-gap mea­sure be­fore run­ning a full com­pe­ti­tion to re­place its ag­ing CF-18 fleet.

The Lib­er­als say the Su­per Hor­nets, which in­ter­nal es­ti­mates sug­gest could cost as much as $2 bil­lion, are ur­gently needed.

Mil­i­tary of­fi­cials and de­fence in­dus­try rep­re­sen­ta­tives con­tacted by The Cana­dian Press on Thurs­day were united in as­sum­ing that Free­land’s warn­ing re­lated to the planned Su­per Hor­net pur­chase.

Free­land’s com­ments came as the next po­ten­tial Canada-U.S. trade dis­pute un­folded Thurs­day with the aerospace gi­ants clash­ing at a Washington hear­ing.

“The U.S. mar­ket is the most open in the world, but we must take ac­tion if our rules are be­ing bro­ken,” U.S. Com­merce Sec­re­tary Wil­bur Ross said in a state­ment af­ter the hear­ing be­gan into Boe­ing’s claim that Bom­bardier re­ceived sub­si­dies al­low­ing it to sell its CSeries planes at be­low-mar­ket prices.

Aerospace an­a­lyst Richard Aboulafia of the Teal Group said the Cana­dian gov­ern­ment’s move was in­evitable, putting into ques­tion Boe­ing’s strat­egy in tak­ing on Bom­bardier.

“If Boe­ing is smart it’ll press the do-over but­ton and walk away,” he said in an in­ter­view, adding the aero­nau­tics pow­er­house has much more to risk from los­ing mil­i­tary con­tracts than the tiny gain from a suc­cess­ful trade com­plaint.

“Boe­ing val­ues Canada as a cus­tomer and sup­plier-part­ner for both our com­mer­cial and de­fence busi­nesses,” said com­pany spokesman Dan Cur­ran.

“Two of Canada’s most re­cent ac­qui­si­tions of Boe­ing mil­i­tary prod­ucts, the C-17 Globe­mas­ter and CH-47 Chi­nook, were de­liv­ered on-time and/or ahead of sched­ule.”

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