Prime Minister Justin Trudeau dropped the gloves Monday in his fight with Boeing, saying the government won’t do business with a company that he’s accusing of attacking Canadian industry and trying to put aerospace employees out of work.
Trudeau’s broadside represents the strongest Canadian rhetoric yet against the U.S. aerospace giant since Boeing launched a trade dispute with Montreal-based rival Bombardier earlier this year.
It also leaves little doubt that the Liberals are serious about walking away from a controversial plan to purchase 18 so-called “interim” Super Hornet fighter jets from Boeing if the company doesn’t stand down.
Indeed, Trudeau also appeared to leave the door open to excluding Super Hornets entirely from any future competition to replace more broadly Canada’s aging fleet of CF-18 jets with 88 new planes.
Such a move would be difficult given international trade laws, but if successful, it could represent a major blow to Boeing: the 88 new jets are expected to cost between $15 billion and $19 billion.
The U.S. State Department estimated last week that it would cost Canada more than $6 billion to buy 18 interim Super Hornets.
“We have obviously been looking at the Super Hornet aircraft from Boeing as a potential significant procurement of our new fighter jets,” Trudeau said during a news conference on Parliament Hill.
“But we won’t do business with a company that’s busy trying to sue us and trying to put our aerospace workers out of business.”
Trudeau was appearing alongside British Prime Minister Theresa May, who said Canada and the U.K. would work together to defend Bombardier, which has a factory in Northern Ireland.
May said she has already made her feelings clear in a phone call with U.S. President Donald Trump, someone Trudeau also said would be hearing from Canada on the matter of Boeing vs. Bombardier.
“I will raise the issue of Bombardier when I meet with him again later this week,” said May.
“I will be impressing upon him the importance of Bombardier to the United Kingdom, and particularly, obviously, to jobs in Northern Ireland.”
‘Narrow economic interests’
Bombardier president Alain Bellemare was one of several Canadian business representatives who later took part in a roundtable with May organized by the British High Commission in Ottawa, but it wasn’t clear whether the two had a chance to…