In an interview with The West Block‘s Vassy Kapelos, Chrystia Freeland said Boeing’s recent claim that its rival’s subsidies from the Canadian government allow Bombardier to sell C-Series planes at below-market prices is “very clearly a protectionist effort to keep the C-Series out of the U.S. market.”
“That’s not something that we can stand for,” Freeland said. “It’s important for Boeing to appreciate that we will be reviewing our military procurement in light of this.”
It’s some of the toughest language the minister has used in defending Bombardier’s interests in the days following a U.S. government hearing into Boeing’s claims of unfairness.
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The spat comes at an awkward time for Boeing. The Canadian government has been preparing to sole-source 18 Boeing Super Hornet fighter jets as a stop-gap measure before running a full competition to replace the country’s aging fleet of CF-18s.
The Liberals say the Super Hornets, which internal estimates suggest could cost as much as $2 billion, are urgently needed. But it now appears the deal could be in peril.
“This is a developing situation. I have every confidence that it will be resolved to the satisfaction of Canada, the U.S., Bombardier and Boeing,” Freeland told Kapelos.
But she added that Canada will “be very strong and very firm in defending Canadian companies, and above all, in defending Canadian workers … I think that’s what Canadians expect.”
As the aerospace controversy unfolds, Freeland is also heading to Mexico this week to discuss renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
Freeland re-iterated that Ottawa wants to sit down with the United States and Mexico at the same time to rejig the trade deal, not deal bilaterally with each country.
“The important thing to remember about NAFTA is that it is a trilateral agreement. And so I think it really makes sense that the negotiation be a trilateral negotiation,” Freeland said. “That’s certainly the approach that we’re taking.”
Watch the full interview with Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland above.