QUEBEC CITY – Quebec’s two main opposition parties have joined forces to pressure the Couillard government to continue its lawsuit against Air Canada.
They insisted the airline’s promise to create a maintenance centre in Montreal for its new fleet of Bombardier C Series does not address their concerns.
Opposition parties said the government has not guaranteed how many jobs will be available in this new centre or when, so it is not a real solution.
“We would like to know the Premier’s business plan, because for the moment, his business plan is to abandon Bombardier employees and Aveos employees,” Parti Québécois leader Pierre Karl Péladeau shouted across the aisle, accusing Couillard of abandoning 1,800 laid off workers.
Philippe Couillard fired back: “Neither of the opposition parties understands the file.”
Two courts have already ruled that Air Canada breached its legal obligations to safeguard jobs when air maintenance contractor, Aveos, laid off several thousand employees, including 1,800 in Montreal.
However, the government said it will drop its case, which is in the Supreme Court, if the airline creates a maintenance centre in Montreal for its new fleet of Bombardier C Seriers jets.
“They’ve won, they’ve won twice,” said Coaliton Avenir Quebec leader François Legault.
“It’s unacceptable, totally unacceptable to see Mr. Couillard wanting to release, to not keep on to the Supreme Court.”
“I feel a lot of sympathy and empathy for the workers,” Couillard told reporters, but he reiterated his position hasn’t changed.
He said even if the government won the lawsuit, it wouldn’t mean those workers would get their jobs back.
Instead, some maintenance workers in greater Montreal would be able to get jobs in a new Bombardier maintenance centre, since the company is now slated to supply jets to Air Canada.
“I’ll tell you, this is a phoney baloney argument,” said Péladeau.
“He’s not using the proper tools to negotiate the best deal.”
Former members of the Aveos employees union have offered to help the Premier negotiate to keep the jobs.
Former union representative Jean Poirier said workers want to see national assembly hearings, and if the government isn’t going to pursue a lawsuit, the union is in the process of consulting lawyers to take Air Canada back to court themselves.
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