Is Ottawa's Boeing threat 'dishonourable' or 'leverage'?: Two analysts weigh in
Published Friday, May 19, 2017 9:53PM EDT
This week, the federal government hinted that it may cancel a multi-billion dollar purchase of fighter jets from Boeing after the American aerospace giant accused Canada’s Bombardier of receiving unfair subsidies -- a move that one analyst is blasting as “dishonourable” but another welcomes as “leverage.”
“The notion that… after the two years that they’ve been in power and have selected an option, they’re frankly willing to throw that all away for a trade war actually disgusts me,” Alan Williams, a former assistant deputy minister of materiel at the Department of National Defence told CTV News Channel on Friday.
“Surely, you could have found some other way to fight this trade war, rather than on the backs of the military,” Williams, who is now president of The Williams Group, which provides expertise in policy, programs and procurement, added. “I thought that was totally dishonourable, and frankly, I am embarrassed and ashamed.”
In November, the federal government announced that it is aiming to acquire 18 new Super Hornet jets from Boeing in order to close what it called a “capability gap” in Canada’s aging air force fleet.
Suggesting that the purchase may be cancelled, however, could also be seen as Canada strengthening its position prior to NAFTA renegotiations, says Adam Taylor, president of the Export Action Group and a former senior advisor to Conservative Minister of International Trade Ed Fast.
“I think this is not yet quite a retaliation,” Taylor told CTV News on Friday. “This is not quite a poke the bear in the eye. This is a shot across the bow ahead of what I think both sides anticipate will be an intense and difficult NAFTA renegotiation.”
Taylor says he supports Canada’s bold stance against Boeing.
“At the end of the day, Canada needs to show that it does have leverage and it needs to be forceful,” he said. “I believe if we show we’re forceful now, then we soften at the negotiating table, then that might be a good approach and a good strategy for Canada.”
Taylor said that while countries will always defend their companies, they should also be aware of how free and open trade is mutually beneficial.
“Every dispute threatens that,” Taylor said. “The benefits of free and open trade far outweigh the consequences of erecting new barriers and allowing these types of disputes to dominate our trade relationship.”