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December 14, 2016

District 11

The silent delegation

Editorial: David Chartrand, Québec coordinator for IAMAW

When will have a pilot in the plane on the federal aerospace policy?

At this time of the year, when I do my annual review, I can only criticize the lack of leadership shown by the Quebec members of the federal Government, to put forth a policy to protect the thousands of jobs in aerospace industry. 

This flagship industry experienced periods of turbulence in the last year, and the federal government won't lift a finger to help. Two of the biggest stories of 2016 was the potential investment in Bombardier and the offshoring of jobs at Air Canada. The Liberals chose the party line over the defence of the workers.

No member of the liberal party from Quebec has talked openly in favour of an investment in Bombardier. None of them has taken the leadership to defend a coherent and responsible investment with measures for protection and job creation, as well a requirement for research and development. It is urgent that we come to an agreement early in 2017, otherwise aerospace industry will remain at risk.

What is being done for the aerospace industry at the moment is insufficient. It ranks last in Government support in research, innovation and the development. All countries that have a national aerospace industry invest massively. Why not us?

Our Organization has met several MPs from Quebec, members of the Liberal party in Ottawa. Letters were written to all Ministers as well as Justin Trudeau asking for the establishment of a pan-Canadian aerospace policy and the defense of these good paying jobs.

Last spring, no one stood up amongst the Liberals while their colleague, Marc Garneau, hurried to legalize the relocation of thousands of jobs with a bill that favored Air Canada at the expense of workers. Once passed, the Bill confirmed the relocation of the 2,600 jobs lost with closing of AVEOS (1,700 in Quebec) while threatening 2,400 additional jobs in the area of repair and maintenance and of aircraft.

This time, in addition to meeting with members of Parliament and senators, our Organization testified in front of the Parliamentary Committee on transportation and the equivalent in front of the Senators, trying to prevent the implementation of this law. They still went forwad with their plan.

Earlier this month, it was again announced that an investment worth hundreds of millions of dollars was being put forth to help the automotive industry in Ontario. It seems easy to get billions to protect jobs in the auto industry. Why is it difficult to do the same for aerospace?

It is urgent that the Canada develop a consistent, innovative and transparent aerospace policy which is beneficial to society as a whole. In Canada, this sector represents 76 000 direct jobs in 700 companies, including more than 200, in Quebec. If the federal Liberals from Quebec do not respond, these jobs will be increasingly threatened. Unfortunately, only the members of the opposition seem to understand this reality. When will we have a pilot in the plane, leading the federal aerospace policy?

David Chartrand, Québec coordinator for IAMAW