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.”