Canadian fighter jets – big questions
For the Machinists Union, Airbus’ withdrawal from the tender for the replacement of the Canadian CF-18’s raises several questions.
Usually, to protect our aerospace industry and create jobs, Canada requires bidders to invest as much money in products and activities in Canada as they have received in military contracts. In bowing to pressure from the Trump administration to seek concessions on the Canadian content clause to keep the F-35 in the race, it is worth asking whether Ottawa really acted in the best interests of Canadians.
After Dassault’s withdrawal, Airbus became the second company to withdraw from the tender. Both manufacturers had stated publicly that if they were to get the contract to manufacture the 88 fighter jets, they would invest in our aerospace industry, which did not seem to convince the Canadian government since they are no longer part of the race.
While Dassault and Airbus have withdrawn, Boeing and Saab have indicated that Canada’s new industrial requirements policy will not benefit taxpayers and the Canadian aerospace and defence industry. If the F-35 were to win, then we are entitled to ask ourselves what will happen to the 600 or so workers at L3-Harris in Mirabel who are currently engaged in CF-18 maintenance. Will the maintenance of the next fighters still take place in Quebec? What will be the real benefits? Who will benefit? Right now, we have nothing to base ourselves on. It’s hard not to be worried about so much uncertainty. We will follow the situation closely and demand that manufacturing and maintenance activities of the next fighter aircraft take place in Quebec.
By being one of the partner countries for the development of the F-35, an agreement ensures that Canada cannot demand economic benefits as a precondition for purchasing the aircraft. In addition, Canada has invested more than $500 million in the F-35 program over the past 20 years, including $54 million in 2018.
Every country does it, why not us? In this case, we are moving from three to two players when the information we have suggests that other bidders might withdraw from the race and that the rules were made to favour one fighter at the expense of others. Our government must prioritize the interests of the country and our aerospace industry so that the jobs and expertise of L3-Harris workers in Mirabel are preserved and the significant economic benefits announced are there at the end of the day.
of machinists and