Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is again suggesting he will abandon a plan to purchase 18 Super Hornets from Boeing, CBC News reports.
Trudeau called-up Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens to remind him Tuesday how important the aerospace industry is to the state for jobs as well and “the shared importance of the aerospace industry to both economies,” as a statement from the prime minister’s office put it. Boeing has its head office in St. Louis.
“This included a discussion on Canada’s possible purchase of Boeing’s Super Hornet fighter jets and the number of Missouri jobs that depend on the manufacturing of tht aircraft,” the statement continued.
Trudeau reminded Greitens of Canada’s role in the Missouri economy as the state’s number one trade destination, generating $8.2 billion every year.
At the root of the conversation is an ongoing debate over government subsidies to the aerospace industry. Trudeau has become personally involved in the struggle with Boeing, whom he accuses of “pursuing unfair and aggressive trade action against the Canadian aerospace sector” because it “receives billions in support from U.S. federal, state and municipal governments.”
For its part, Boeing says Canada’s Bombardier aerospace is unfairly competing in U.S. markets because the company is heavily subsidized by the Canadian government and has filed a trade complaint with the department of commerce that could lead to tariffs on Bombardier products.
In April, Trudeau again bailed-out Bombardier from its chronic financial difficulties with a $1.5 billion infusion of taxpayer money and then proceeded to hike the salaries of its managers while it laid-off employees. Canada’s official opposition conservatives castigated the Liberals for the decision.
The largest loser in the trade dispute, at least in the short-term, could be the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) that desperately requires new fighter jets. The potential Super Hornet acquisition is a stop-gap measure only; a contract to replace all the CF-18s that the RCAF currently flies remains in political limbo. The previous Conservative government was poised to purchase the Lockheed-Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter but Trudeau campaigned on cancelling that deal.
Conservative Defense Critic James Bezan told The Daily Caller that the Liberal position of finding a “stop-gap” solution is “ridiculous” and proves that “the Liberal government is talking out of both sides of its mouth.”
Bezan said the Canadian defense department is even considering buying used Hornets from the Australians until it can decide to tender bids to replace all of the aging CF-18s that the RCAF still operates.
“Our policy is simple: instead of messing around with this the Bombardier-Boeing trade war…let’s just get to an open competition immediately and get the right fighter jet now for the Royal Canadian Air Force,” he said.
Canadian Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan has said that Canada needs more fighter jets immediately to fulfill its commitment to NORAD and NATO.