United States attacks Canadian Aviation Industry with 300% tariff

The following is taken from a letter dated September 29, 2017, addressed to; The Most Honorable Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada, as well as to several other Members of Parliament.

Trump-USA is trying to win with an end-run around NAFTA, using a sledge hammer for negotiations.  Being the little guy, we need to fight back with serious intent, rallying all Canadians to the cause.  A painting by Canadian iconic artist Greg Curnoe (with works in the National Gallery in Ottawa), said it all in his painting of North America.  Canada is shown bordering Mexico – the United States is missing.  We all know the United States is there, large and powerful, but when it comes to trade we have options.  We are unique with our French/English heritage and can work with the EU and the world to rebuild trade.  In the short-term it might cost Canadians more to import products from outside the U.S., but it’s a worthwhile sacrifice and the economy will grow from a broader market base.

Trump-USA has targeted Bombardier aircraft with a 220% tariff, effectively cutting off sales to the United States.  They accuse us of subsidizing Bombardier.  If Bombardier received funds from the government of Quebec for an ownership position or a business loan from the Federal government, that’s business – not subsidization.  Unless there’s something the government is not telling us, then what’s the difference when the U.S. government took an ownership position in General Motors during the U.S. financial crises.  A bail-out is different than subsidizing a unit of production.

The United States did not attack just one Canadian company …they are going after our aviation industry, our only remaining manufacturer.  They have done this before, convincing a previous government to abandon the AVRO Arrow project and embrace a United States missile defense system.  After we decimated our own project with the consequence of watching thousands of highly qualified engineers move to the United States to continue their craft, we learned that we needed to buy new fighter aircraft from the United States, and told we needed both, missiles and fighter aircraft.

If you have not seen the DVD movie “The Arrow” starring Dan Aykroyd, I strongly encourage you to do so.  If you have, see it again, and promote others in both Canada and the United States to watch it to understand Canada’s resolve.  Those funny little wing-tips that allow fighter aircraft to controllably penetrate the sound barrier were invented here in Canada, and used on the Arrow just before the project and aircraft were destroyed in 1959.

PROPOSED – In recognition that Canada’s total aviation manufacturing industry has been hit with an effective U.S. ban, Canada should respond in kind with a similar tariff on all commercial aircraft manufactured in the United States.  Not just Boeing, but their total industry as they are doing the same to us.

With a population 1/10 the size of the United States and an aircraft industry that has an even smaller footprint per GDP, their actions are significant, punitive and breaks the spirit of NAFTA.  We can anticipate Canada’s air-carriers will be forced to purchase other aircraft, like Airbus, just as Bombardier will be marketed to other countries.  Canada makes parts for U.S. aircraft manufacturers just as U.S. companies make parts for Bombardier, and that would probably not change in the short-term.  If the U.S. does not back down there will certainly be change further down the road, but Canada can start making wings and parts for Bombardier if they lose U.S. contracts.  Trump may widen his trade war, but Canada will be noticed in a dramatic way and both Canadian and U.S. industry will make noise to regain the status quo.

We should not be afraid to do the right thing, because of fear of short-term dislocations in parts and assembly plants that are secondary to the primary goal; our aircraft industry.

Canada needs publicity to sway the U.S. administration.  Quiet negotiations won’t work to get positive things to Trump’s desk.  Perhaps a little sabre rattling over NORAD will be a publicity angle to get U.S. Senators attention.  We have options.


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