REGARDLESS of which company wins the CF-18 fighter replacement contract, Trudeau’s Liberal government must make sure there are job guarantees for aerospace workers here in Canada and strong economic benefits for the Canadian public, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said at a press conference on Wednesday in Ottawa with NDP Deputy Leader Alexandre Boulerice and Yvon Payment from the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAMAW).
“This case has been dragging on for years. It’s starting to get ridiculous. In 2015, the Liberals promised to fix the tendering process and four years later, nothing has happened,” said Boulerice. “In Mirabel, men and women are working miracles to make the CF-18s work. Without the knowledge and ingenuity of this group of workers, the government would be in trouble. At the very least, [Prime Minister] Justin Trudeau and his new ministers must respond quickly to this issue and make sure these workers continue to do this work.”
For 37 years, the repair and maintenance of Canadian CF-18s has been carried out in Quebec. Today, the work done on Canadian fighter aircrafts at L3-Harris in Mirabel provides employment for about 600 people. To date, it is impossible to know whether the government intends to obtain the necessary guarantees to protect jobs in the country or to know the extent and type of industrial and technological economic benefits that will come from the contract to manufacture 88 Royal Canadian Air Force fighter jets.
“The contract is valued at $19 billion. At this price, it would be inconceivable not to ensure that we obtain the necessary means to maintain and create jobs here and obtain positive benefits for the country,” said Yvon Paiement, President of Local 712 of the Machinists. “The vagueness in which this dossier is being conducted is further proof that we need an industrial strategy for the aerospace sector, which is well thought out in the long term and economically coherent, which places our interests as a society, as citizens and as workers in the award of public contracts.”
The NDP said it intends to engage the new minister of defence on this issue at the beginning of the parliamentary session in Ottawa.