Bom­bardier wastes ad­van­tage of Buy Canada

On­tario’s de­ci­sion to nix LRT a mes­sage to man­u­fac­turer to shed its ar­ro­gance

Toronto Star - - BUSINESS - David Olive

Bum’s rush for Bom­bardier The pres­sure will soon be on Bom­bardier Inc. to get se­ri­ous about split­ting the com­pany into its rail and aero­space op­er­a­tions.

Each is trou­bled, but might fare bet­ter on its own, solely fo­cused on their re­spec­tive busi­nesses.

On­tario last week told the Mon­treal-based Bom­bardier it is ter­mi­nat­ing its $770-mil­lion con­tract to buy all 182 light-rail ve­hi­cles (LRVs) needed for ex­ten­sive ex­pan­sion to Toronto’s pub­lic tran­sit net­work.

A pi­lot Bom­bardier LRV to have ar­rived in Toronto three years ago missed its lat­est de­liv­ery dead­line last week.

By the time it does ar­rive, On­tario will have given part of the LRT con­tract to ea­ger bid­ders Siemens AG of Ger­many and France’s Al­stom S.A.

In a sep­a­rate fi­asco, Bom­bardier has been a chronic an­noy­ance for Toronto Tran­sit Com­mis­sion com­muters, made to cope with un­re­li­able and late Bom­bardier equip­ment.

Post-Nor­tel and the hal­cyon days of Black­Berry, Bom­bardier is Canada’s big­gest tech cham­pion.

It has long been nur­tured by cor­po­rate wel­fare, and in­for­mal but real Buy Canada prac­tices, no­tably in On­tario.

Squan­der­ing those ad­van­tages, Bom­bardier has worked hard to ex­em­plify what a cus­tomer-un­friendly en­ter­prise looks like. It de­serves its bum’s rush, which might fi­nally teach Bom­bardier to shed the ar­ro­gance that drove Nor­tel to an early grave. Brexit chaos It’s back to the draw­ing board this week for Theresa May, the Bri­tish PM, after last week’s U.K. High Court rul­ing that she must gain par­lia­men­tary ap­proval be­fore in­vok­ing Ar­ti­cle 50 of the Euro­pean Union char­ter.

May roiled global mar­kets when she an­nounced she in­tends in March to pull that trig­ger, at which point Bri­tain ir­re­vo­ca­bly ceases to be a mem­ber of the Euro­pean Union (EU), and a max­i­mum of two years of di­vorce ne­go­ti­a­tions be­gin.

In find­ing that May lacks the di­vine right to yank Bri­tain from the EU on her own, the High Court has made it all the more likely that Bri­tain won’t quit the EU.

It’s long been thought that a ma­jor­ity of U.K par­lia­men­tar­i­ans pre­fer the sta­tus quo of a U.K. with a lead­ing voice in the EU.

(That’s why May, rushed re­place­ment for the dis­cred­ited David Cameron, was in­tent on side-step­ping par­lia­ment.)

This is a sharp dis­ap­point­ment for the EU’s other 27 mem­bers, spear­headed by Ger­many, who have been press­ing the U.K. to get on with stay­ing or leav­ing.

Even if Brexit doesn’t hap­pen, the con­tempt for im­mi­grants that fu­elled the anti-EU vote will re­main.

Mean­while, May’s in­ep­ti­tude and high­hand­ed­ness will soon bring calls for her res­ig­na­tion. Amer­ica: ‘failed state’? It’s dif­fi­cult to see how the Nov. 8 bal­lot­ing in the U.S. pres­i­den­tial con­test will pro­duce a win­ner.

The “win­ner’s” mar­gin of vic­tory will be nar­row, and sup­port­ers of the loser will have even more than the usual dif­fi­culty ac­cept­ing the out­come.

That’s espe­cially the case if Hil­lary Clin­ton wins the Elec­toral Col­lege but loses the pop­u­lar vote — the re­verse of the botched 2000 U.S. pres­i­den­tial elec­tion.

If Clin­ton does win, “Repub­li­cans will im­me­di­ately launch im­peach­ment pro­ceed­ings against her,” says Paul Krug­man, the No­bel lau­re­ate econ­o­mist, re­fer­ring to the FBI’s quixotic treat­ment of Clin­ton’s emails while she was U.S. Sec­re­tary of State.

The “win­ner” will also face a di­vided Capi­tol Hill, since the GOP is nearcer­tain to re­tain con­trol of Congress.

Bill Clin­ton and Barack Obama were able to get leg­is­la­tion passed only dur­ing the first two years of their eight-year tenures, be­fore the Democrats lost Capi­tol Hill. The sup­posed win­ner on Tues­day will lack even that two-year start.

An out­come whose le­gacy is grid­lock, with an im­peach­ment drive thrown in, bodes ill for Amer­i­can business de­ci­sion­mak­ing “be­cause Amer­ica is per­ilously close to be­ing a failed state,” says Krug­man.

Even if Brexit doesn’t hap­pen, the con­tempt for im­mi­grants that fu­elled the anti-EU vote will re­main

Earn­ings this week Mon­day: Air Canada Tues­day: Cine­plex, Valeant Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals Wed­nes­day: CAE, Sun Life Fi­nan­cial, Cara Op­er­a­tions Thurs­day: Man­ulife Fi­nan­cial, Cana­dian Tire, Fri­day: Onex, Power Corp. do­live@thes­tar.ca

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