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Ottawa ready to invest in Bombardier: Navdeep Bains

Canada's innovation minister says it's not a matter of if -- but how the federal government will invest in aerospace giant Bombardier.
Canada's innovation minister says it's not a matter of if -- but how the federal government will invest in aerospace giant Bombardier. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz

MONTREAL – The federal government investing in aerospace giant Bombardier is not a matter of if but how, Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains said Tuesday.

“We want to be a partner,” Bains said after announcing up to $54 million in funds for a Bombardier-led aerospace-research consortium.

READ MORE: Bombardier begins layoffs in effort to cut 7,000 workers

“We want to find a solution and we want to continue to make meaningful investments. We want to be a partner, we are at the table, we want to find a solution. It’s not a matter of if but how we want to make the investment.”

His comments are the clearest the Liberals have been to date regarding whether they’ll accept the Montreal-based company’s request for $1 billion in federal funding.

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In early September, Bombardier (TSX:BBD.B) received the second of two instalments of US$500 million from the Quebec government.

Quebec now owns 49.5 per cent of a new limited partnership of the CSeries aircraft program, including larger versions of the plane beyond the CS100 and CS300 should they be developed.

Bains wouldn’t give details as to exactly how much Ottawa will invest or where the money will be targeted.

He did reiterate the conditions his government will place on any future funding.

Ottawa wants Bombardier to keep its head office and the jobs connected to its research and development activities in the country, he said.

READ MORE: Bombardier to temporarily suspend jet production

“These are good-quality jobs that pay 60 per cent above the average manufacturing salary,” Bains said. “We want good-quality jobs here in Canada. We want to focus on research and development and we want to set up the company for long-term success.”

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Bombardier spokesman Simon Letendre said the firm meets “regularly” with federal officials and is “looking for a win-win solution in order to keep developing the CSeries.”

The CSeries has received major orders from Air Canada and Delta Air Lines. The company said it acquired 127 firm orders and 80 options in the first half of 2016.

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