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NDP aerospace vows familiar

Promised investments seem to duplicate Tories'

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 9/9/2015 (1603 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Sean Kilpatrick / THE CANADIAN PRESS 
NDP Leader Tom Mulcair boards his campaign plane in Montreal Tuesday after the announcement.

CP

Sean Kilpatrick / THE CANADIAN PRESS NDP Leader Tom Mulcair boards his campaign plane in Montreal Tuesday after the announcement.

OTTAWA — The NDP is making a bid for votes from Canada's aerospace sector with investments that could help many of Manitoba's aerospace companies but appear to mimic existing strategies from the Conservative government.

NDP Leader Tom Mulcair kicked off the second half of this election campaign with a promise to invest $160 million over four years in an Aerospace Advanced Manufacturing Fund so small and medium-sized aerospace companies can invest in new technology.

Another $40 million will go to the Canadian Space Agency's Space Technology Development Program to commercialize new technologies, and there will be a plan to develop a national aerospace supplier initiative.

He said the NDP would make "Canada's aerospace industry a priority again" and accused the Conservatives of shirking responsibilities to promote Canada's industry abroad.

"At the most recent Paris air show, not a single Conservative minister bothered to show up to promote Canada," Mulcair said. "Now when Boeing wants to sell jets to China, (U.S.) President Obama goes to China to help Boeing sell jets."

He said as prime minister he would champion aerospace and will make sure Canada is represented at large international aerospace trade shows.

Mulcair chose Montreal to make the announcement as it is home to the largest concentration of aerospace companies in Canada and second-largest in the world. More than 41,000 jobs at 204 different companies in the Montreal region alone are related to aerospace.

Nationally the aerospace sector accounts for $29 billion of the GDP.

But Manitoba would be in line for some of the benefits under the NDP plan. The province has the third-largest aerospace sector in Canada, accounting for about 5,300 jobs and $1.6 billion in annual revenues, according to data on the provincial government website.

While the majority of those jobs is at the three largest companies, Boeing Technology Canada, StandardAero and Magellan Aerospace, there are at least two dozen small and medium-sized companies that manufacture and repair parts for planes and helicopters.

The NDP says these small firms can't compete without finding ways to increase productivity and cut costs.

However, this fund sounds somewhat similar to the Factories of the Future announcement made by Conservative MP Lawrence Toet in Winnipeg just days before the election began. That plan is to build a $60-million National Research Council facility in Winnipeg for aerospace research into helping companies manufacture for less money and in less time. The Conservative plan didn't provide many details including where the facility will be located or what the annual investment would be in the program.

The NDP pledge to create a national aerospace supply chain modelled on Montreal's Mach Initiative is almost identical to the same pledge made by the Conservatives in the last federal budget.

mia.rabson@freepress.mb.ca

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