In today’s economic context, promoting Canadian interests in industries with the potential to generate significant economic benefits for the country should be at the top of our list of priorities.
Referring to the Lockheed CP-140 Aurora replacement, federal Industry Minister François-Philippe Champagne recently stated that his government would take into account national security, the need to make the best choice for taxpayers, and the promotion of the Canadian aerospace industry. This is commendable.
A transparent and open bidding process would be the best way to meet these three challenges. But there’s a problem: his government seems to prefer awarding the contract to a foreign aerospace company.
In fact, the government is reportedly about to offer the contract, valued at $8 billion, to Boeing for their P-8A Poseidon aircraft – without a bidding process!
The government seem to have ignored Bombardier’s proposal for the Global 6500 – a modern, cutting-edge aircraft manufactured in Quebec and Ontario.
Canadians should know that the Poseidon’s ability to meet the needs of the Royal Canadian Air Force has been called into question several times recently.
For months, industry and unions have been calling on the federal government to apply a fair and transparent procurement process for the replacement of the CP-140 Auroras.
Requests have also come from the premiers of Ontario and Quebec, the federal opposition parties and members of the House of Commons Defence Committee, who passed a motion on November 9 calling on the federal government to issue a call for tenders to select a replacement for the CP-140.
Our message is simple: by opting for a private treaty with a foreign company, Canada is missing an opportunity to generate significant local economic benefits and is jeopardizing the promotion and development of a strategic, wealth-creating industry.
A government procurement contract should be seen as an investment. If a government chooses to buy from abroad when it could do so at home, it is choosing to invest abroad rather than at home.
If it chooses not to tender, it is allowing the sole supplier to set its own price, rather than relying on a competitive process to bring prices down. It deliberately chooses to limit its ability to stimulate its economy and raise tax revenues to finance services to the population.
The contract to replace Canada’s aging CP-140s represents a unique opportunity to secure and create good jobs, energize and diversify our aerospace ecosystem, and generate wealth for decades to come in Canada. It would be irresponsible not to maximize the benefits of this contract. The workers who built its reputation on the international scene have the expertise needed to compete for this contract.