Winnipeg mayor calls out Philippe Couillard over Boeing fight

Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman called out Quebec’s premier on Thursday, saying comments Philippe Couillard made about the Boeing-Bombardier feud go too far and ignore the reality of the Canadian aerospace industry.

“Cooler heads do need to prevail,” Bowman said. “I’m very concerned.

“Comments that certainly sound protectionist and ignore the reality that Winnipeg has the third-largest aerospace sector in the country I don’t think are helpful.”

Couillard said Wednesday he asked Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to ensure “not a bolt, not a part” or a plane from Boeing enters Canada until the conflict between U.S. aerospace giant Boeing and Canadian rival Bombardier is resolved.

Boeing scored a major victory Tuesday when the U.S. Commerce Department decided to impose punitive duties of up to 220 per cent on Canadian Bombardier CS100 commercial jets.


Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard wants the federal government to block all Boeing imports. (Jacques Boissinot/Canadian Press)

Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister also weighed in on the issue Thursday morning, saying he hopes the federal Liberals don’t side with Quebec and forget about Manitoba during the dispute.

“We need to make sure that we look at this in a balanced way,” Pallister said at the opening of a personal care home in Morden, Man. He added that aerospace, like supply-related industries, comes up in trade discussions frequently, with accusations of unfair trading practices.

But Couillard told reporters Thursday he didn’t he didn’t overreact and fired back at Pallister. 

“My reaction was the minimum. I held back. “They [Manitoba] need to mind their own business,” Couillard said.

“I’ll take care of Quebec.”

Speaking later in the day at the groundbreaking for a new pea-processing plant in Portage la Prairie, Pallister echoed Bowman’s comments. “There’s a lot of passion from Mr. Couillard and others, a lot of heightened rhetoric,” he said. “I would like cooler heads to prevail, obviously.”

$3B in exports

Pallister and Bowman both said the border should be open and not closed to ensure stronger trading relationships.

Bowman said over the last 10 years, aerospace companies in Winnipeg shipped more than $3 billion in export products.

Are Boeing jobs in Winnipeg at risk?5:13

Bowman said there are more than 4,000 aerospace jobs in Manitoba and Boeing parts are made in Winnipeg. The mayor asked for Canada’s national media to report on Boeing’s presence in Winnipeg.

The company employs more than 1,400 people in the city.

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