24 October, 2023
IAM Canadian General Vice-President David Chartrand attended an important round table in Ottawa addressing the replacement of the Royal Canadian Air Force’s CP-140 Aurora military aircraft. The Canadian GVP was in attendance to stress the importance of a strategic and well-thought-out replacement, as an unfavourable decision may impact member’s jobs.
Organised by Bloc Québécois MP Simon-Pierre Savard-Tremblay, the discussion was on the process of bids for tender for the replacement of the aircraft and its effect on industry and workers, as well as general comments on public procurement and the approach taken in other countries.
Dave Chartrand, who has been vocal on the issue for many years, said, “In Canada the choices we make today impact future benefits to Canadians. We must make sure there are important economic spin-offs in this country.”
The IAM has been campaigning for an aerospace policy for 30 years and has pointed out that for years the Canadian governments has lacked vision and strategic solutions to support the industry. Decades of band-aid solutions have eroded the competitiveness of the Canadian aerospace industry. The Canadian government has an excellent opportunity with this contract to boost and diversify the aerospace ecosystem by guaranteeing industrial and technological benefits with the acquisition of its new aircraft fleet.
For local industry, air defense sector contracts are an excellent way to diversify and revitalize our aerospace industry and make it less vulnerable to economic cycles. Investing in sectors with high added value and support projects serves several important goals, such as, respecting our commercial agreements and protecting ourselves from complaints before organizations such as the WTO and even the American Department of Commerce. Additionally, technologies that are developed have spillover effects in other sectors of our economy and can also be recovered by commercial aviation. Investments in this sector also stimulate research efforts, innovation, and the development of new technologies within our strategic industries, our research centers and our universities that have a lasting impact for many years.
The benefits don’t end there, a strong sector also benefits workers. For our members a strong sector results in job security, ongoing development of skills and versatility, making their work more interesting and their skills more diverse. More broadly, supporting a strong aerospace sector lifts the entire aerospace ecosystem, which impacts small and medium sized enterprises, and suppliers.
“The government has a duty of transparency to the Canadian people and must seriously consider Canadian solutions. Adding military contracts would diversify Canada’s aerospace cluster by having local original equipment manufacturers (OEM) secure contracts, which, in turn, provides work for other enterprises in a regional cluster. When there are Canadian companies who can offer a solution that answers our military needs why would our government not have the will to have them bid? But, more importantly, why would the government disqualify Canadian companies who not only have solutions, but who provide stable employment and growth to regional, provincial and national economies. The bottom line is this: the process must be fair and transparent.”
To guarantee sustainability and increase the potential of our aerospace sector, it would be preferable to structure our interventions within a sectoral industrial policy.
The IAMAW has recommended that the Canadian government must put in place a sectoral industrial policy, one that is pan-Canadian in scope, and one that is bold and forward-thinking. In order to ensure the viability of the sector, greater cooperation between all three levels of government is necessary, which could be defined in a sectoral industrial policy.
The IAM is calling for quick and decisive action to make sure the procurement process is fair, transparent and maintain jobs in Canada!
Please click on the link for an audio recording:
Below is the list of guests and a verbatim transcript of some of the speeches.
Panel 1: Mehran Ebrahimi, Professor and Director of the International Aeronautics and Civil Aviation Observatory; David Chartrand, General Vice-President of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers; Daniel Cloutier, Quebec Director of Unifor.
Panel 2: Mike Hood, former Commander of the Royal Canadian Air Force; Pierre Puyn, Vice-President, Government and Industry Affairs, Bombardier; Martin Zablocki, President General Dynamics Mission Systems – Canada