Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau may have effectively killed a multi-billion dollar contract for 18 Super Hornet fighter jets produced by aerospace giant Boeing. Trudeau said he can’t continue to do business with a company that is “trying to sue” Canada and “put our aerospace workers out of business.”
Trudeau launched his last volley in his legal war on Boeing at a news conference on Parliament Hill on Monday, as the House resumed after its summer recess.
“We have obviously been looking at the Super Hornet aircraft from Boeing as a potential significant procurement of our new fighter jets,” Trudeau told reporters. “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.”
The prime minister continues to talk tough as he attempts to leverage an increasingly bitter trade dispute between Boeing and the Montreal-based Bombardier aerospace, a company that successive Canadian federal governments have sunk billions of dollars into.
“We will continue to stand up for jobs and stand up for the excellent airplane that is the Bombardier CSeries aircraft,” Trudeau said.
But trade issues aside, the fighter jets — deemed to be an emergency requirement by the minister of national defense — are getting lost in the dispute. Every CF-18 fighter jet currently flown by the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) is nearing the end of its operational capacity. Trudeau walked away from a plan to replace all of them with the F-35 joint strike fighter that previous Canadian governments were committed to buying. Last fall, he promised to buy 18 new Super Hornets as an “interim” measure so that Canada could maintain its NATO and NORAD commitments.
The official opposition Conservatives say the RCAF is suffering because of Liberal politics. “Trudeau needs to quit playing games and start a competition right now to select the fighter jet that’s best of our air force, best for our industry and best for our taxpayers. The Prime Minister needs to cut the rhetoric and find a trusted partner that is in our national interest, Defense critic James Bezan told The Daily Caller on Tuesday.
The “interim” deal was estimated to cost $6 billion.
Trudeau’s refusal to do business with Boeing might force him to deal Lockheed-Martin, who reduce the joint strike fighter.
Trudeau has found a trade ally in British Prime Minister Theresa May, who was visiting Canada on Monday and stood with Trudeau at the news conference. Bombardier has an aircraft plant in North Ireland.
Boeing continues to castigate Bombardier for “dumping” its aircraft in the U.S. market “at absurdly low prices,” it said in a Monday statement.