Premiers Couillard, Wynne push Ottawa to fund Bombardier

The embattled plane-maker is looking for more than $1 billion in public money to help fund its CSeries planes, which are two years late and over budget

VANCOUVER—The premiers of Canada’s two most populous provinces joined forces March 2 to push for federal help for Bombardier’s CSeries aircraft.

Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard drew support from his Ontario counterpart in calling for Ottawa to back the airliner, saying the CSeries is important to the Canadian economy.

The CSeries is probably the most “important innovative project now in Canada that will benefit all of Canada, yes Quebec, but also other parts of the country,” Couillard said outside climate change talks in Vancouver.

The province wants the federal government to join it in contributing US$1 billion to the troubled jet program at Bombardier.

Quebec has secured a 49.5 per cent stake in the CSeries and two of five seats on a separate board after agreeing last October to the financial contribution.

The Montreal-based aircraft manufacturer would hold the three remaining seats and have the right to appoint the subsidiary’s chairman.

However, Ottawa would gain two additional seats on an expanded seven-person board if the federal government joins in.

Couillard said he understands it takes time for Ottawa to consider the proposal, but he likened Quebec’s case to federal support for the auto industry in the past.

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne supported Couillard.

“It’s an important national company and if we look at the sectors that are our strengths in this country, and in Ontario, aerospace is one of those sectors, and Bombardier is a very, very important company in Ontario,” she said.

The federal government has said it was continuing to evaluate the request for funding.

The narrow-body CSeries planes, which are two years late and over budget at US$5.4 billion, are set to enter into service in the coming months.