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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is dropping the gloves in his fight with Boeing, saying his government won’t do business with a company that he’s accusing of attacking Canadian industry and trying to put aerospace employees out of work.
The comments represent the strongest yet against the U.S. aerospace giant since Boeing launched a trade dispute with Montreal-based rival Bombardier earlier this year.
And they leave little doubt Trudeau’s Liberal government is serious about walking away from a controversial plan to purchase 18 interim Super Hornet fighter jets from Boeing if the company doesn’t stand down.
“We have obviously been looking at the Super Hornet aircraft from Boeing as a potential significant procurement of our new fighter jets,” Trudeau said.
“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.”
Beyond the interim plans, the prime minister also appears to have left open the door to excluding Super Hornets entirely from any future competition to replace more broadly Canada’s aging fleet of CF-18 jets.
Trudeau made the comments during an appearance with British Prime Minister Theresa May, who says Canada and the U.K. will work together to defend Bombardier, which has a factory in Northern Ireland.
Boeing has accused of Bombardier of selling its CSeries passenger jets to a U.S. airline at an unfairly low price with help from government subsidies, and says the case affects its long-term economic health.
“We will continue to stand up for jobs and stand up for the excellent airplane that is the Bombardier CSeries aircraft,” Trudeau said.
“The action that Boeing has taken is very much in their narrow economic interests, to harm a potential competitor, and quite frankly is not in keeping with the kind of openness to trade that we know benefits citizens in all countries around the world.”
The U.S. Commerce Department is currently investigating the complaint, and is expected to release its preliminary findings next week.
May said she has already made her feelings clear in a phone call with U.S. President Donald Trump, someone Trudeau also said would be hearing from Canada on the matter of Boeing vs. Bombardier.
“I will raise the issue of Bombardier when I meet with him again later this week,” said May.
“I will be impressing upon him the importance of Bombardier to the United Kingdom., and particularly, obviously, to jobs in Northern Ireland.”
In a statement released Monday, Boeing accused Bombardier of a “classic case of dumping” by offering the CSeries for sale in the U.S. “at absurdly low prices” after it “sold poorly in the marketplace.”
“No one is saying Bombardier cannot sell its aircraft anywhere in the world. But sales must be according to globally accepted trade law, not violating those rules seeking to boost flatlining business artificially,” the statement said.
“We all have a shared interest in a level playing field. That is what this dispute is about.”