Wings Magazine

News
Head of aerospace group disappointed Harper did not keep $200 million promise

Feb. 10, 2009, Longueuil, Que. - The head of the Aerospace Industries Association of Canada warns there could be a big impact on the aerospace sector if Ottawa doesn't act quickly to fully support it.


February 10, 2009
By Peter Rakobowchuk

Feb. 10, 2009, Longueuil, Que. – The head of the Aerospace Industries
Association of Canada warns there could be a big impact on the
aerospace sector if Ottawa doesn't act quickly to fully support it.

"If we don't want the industry to have major problems in two,
three, four or five years, and not be ready to compete with other
countries where they are supporting their industry to the fullest,
something needs to be done now,'' Claude Lajeunesse said Monday.

He also said he's disappointed Prime Minister Stephen Harper has
not delivered on an election campaign promise to pump $200 million
into the industry.

"We're very concerned that this money was not confirmed in the
budget,'' he added.

Advertisment

The money would have been put to use under an innovative research
program known as the Strategic Aerospace and Defence Initiative.

"It takes four or five years before you see the impact of new
engines or new composite materials,'' he said.

"It takes research now if you want to be able to compete in the world.''

But Industry Minister Tony Clement insists Canada's aerospace
industry is in good shape and doesn't need federal financial aid
right now.

“In aerospace, we have a good solid industry that will be here
in the future,'' he told reporters during a visit to the Canadian
Space Agency.

“It will continue to have our support in our tax measures and in
our investments.''

Lajeunesse agreed the Canadian aerospace industry is on solid
footing when compared with others, like the auto industry.

“We want to make sure it stays that way,'' he said.

Clement added that the current economic crisis may prompt a
review of the state of the aerospace industry in the future.

“We're constantly reassessing the situation with the economy,
but I'm confident we're on the right track when it comes to
aerospace.''

Bombardier Aerospace, Canada's only aircraft maker, announced
last week it will eliminate 1,360 jobs, or about 4.5 per cent of its
workforce, because of a drop in orders for business jets.

The Montreal-based firm said it hopes to offset the layoffs by
hiring more than 800 permanent employees for some of its new
aircraft projects.

Clement visited the space agency near Montreal to discuss the
government's commitment to science and technology.

The Harper government is providing $110 million over three years
so the agency can continue its research and development in space
robotics.

Agency president Steve MacLean says the amount of money set aside<
in Ottawa's so-called economic action plan is exactly what he had
asked for.

"I'd always like to have more, but we gave an honest answer
about how much we needed to protect the robotics heritage in
Canada,'' he said.

MacLean was referring to the Canadarms used on the U.S. space
shuttles and the International Space Station. He also pointed
proudly to DEXTRE, a mobile servicing robot on the space station.
He said the next step is to develop other robotic instruments like lunar rovers and Martian landers.

MacLean said the $110 million will also help to protect more than
350 jobs and train the next generation of researchers.

"This money will allow us to keep the talent in Canada,'' he
added.

THE CANADIAN PRESS