Quebec angry as Ottawa says Bombardier can’t be favoured for Via Rail train contract

Quebec angry as Ottawa says Bombardier can’t be favoured for Via Rail train contract

OTTAWA — Quebec Premier Francois Legault said Tuesday “it makes no sense” for the federal government to let Via Rail award a major contract without ensuring any jobs are created in Canada.

Reacting to a report that the German firm Siemens AG has beaten out Bombardier Transportation for a $1-billion contract to build new Via Rail trains, Legault said Ottawa should have included a 25 per cent local content requirement — at a minimum.

“I can’t get over seeing (Marc) Garneau throw in the towel,” Legault told reporters in Quebec City, referring to the federal transport minister.

Garneau told reporters earlier Tuesday that free trade agreements with Europe and the United States prevent the federal Crown corporation from favouring Bombardier in the awarding of contracts.

“We are competing around the world,” Garneau said. “At the federal level, we don’t have the right to impose rules that favour Canadian companies when we believe in free trade deals.”

Garneau added that Via Rail is independent from the federal government.

La Presse reported Tuesday that Via Rail is negotiating the terms of the contract with Siemens after its submission beat out Bombardier Transportation and third-place Spanish company Talgo Inc. Bombardier was hoping the Via Rail contract would provide several years of work at its factory in La Pocatiere, Que.

Garneau did not confirm the report and said the contract tendering process is not finished. Via Rail also declined comment, saying the name of the winning bidder will be known in December.

Via Rail ruled out in March the possibility of requiring local content in its request for proposals. The company is seeking 32 new fuel-efficient, bi-directional trains to serve passengers in the Windsor-Quebec City Corridor.

Legault said the requirement for local content could be applied regardless of whether Siemens or Bombardier lands the contract

“It is the taxpayers who, through the federal government, are going to invest $1-billion in these trains,” Legault said. “And here we have a federal government that says. ‘I’m not going to require any Canadian content.’ It makes no sense.”

Claude Michaud, president of the union representing roughly 600 workers at Bombardier’s factory in La Pocatiere, criticized Via’s reported choice.

“It’s inconceivable that (the contract) will be given to a German company,” he said.

Layoffs at the factory 150 kilometres northeast of Quebec City have already begun following the completion of a contract to produce cars for Montreal’s subway system.

Bombardier Inc. this month announced it will cut 5,000 workers worldwide, half of them in Quebec. Almost all the Canadian jobs cut are in the company’s aerospace division.

Michaud called on Via Rail to review its contract-awarding process. But the situation is not that simple, Garneau said.

Quebec can require local content when it makes acquisitions, he said, but that cannot be done at the federal level.

Garneau added that the recent trade deals between Canada and Europe, the U.S. and certain Pacific Rim countries gave Canadian businesses access to markets of more than 1.5 billion people.

Trade deals “create jobs and cost jobs,” Garneau said. “We can make arguments on both sides.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The body of 25-year-old Kyler Corriveau was discovered near Red Deer on Sunday. He was missing since Dec. 15. Police are investigating his death as a homicide. (Contrinuted photo).
RCMP are investigating the death of missing Red Deer man as a homicide

The body of Kyler Corriveau was discovered on Sunday

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw reported 456 new cases of COVID-19 over Tuesday afternoon. (photography by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Five new COVID-19 deaths in Central zone, two in Red Deer

Province reports 456 new cases of COVID-19

Community Futures Central Alberta, in partnership with the Central Alberta Regional Innovation Network (CARIN), is behind the SMARTstart initiative for budding entrepreneurs.
New program aimed at helping entrepreneurs succeed

Program offers mentorship, business advice and networking opportunities

A Red Deer man, who has been declared a dangerous offender, lost his appeal of an aggravated assault conviction from 2017. Advocate file photo
Red Deer man who chomped on remand centre inmate’s ear loses aggravated assault appeal

Inmate lost part of his ear in attack at Red Deer Remand Centre in August 2017

Red Deer’s Wiklund vs. Wiklund is celebrating a burst of songwriting creativity during the 2020 lockdown by releasing a new tune to YouTube and multiple digital music platforms in each month of 2021. (Contributed image).
Pandemic lockdown fuels a flurry of songwriting for Red Deer music duo

Wiklund vs Wiklund will release a new single monthly in 2021

Justin Kripps of Summerland and his team have competed in Olympic action and World Cup competitions in bobsleigh. (Jason Ransom-Canadian Olympic Comittee).
QUIZ: Are you ready for some winter sports?

It’s cold outside, but there are plenty of recreation opportunities in the winter months

People wear masks as they pass a pharmacy offering flu shots in downtown Calgary, Alta., Friday, Oct. 30, 2020. Experts say a drastic drop in the circulation of the influenza virus this season means signs of flu are more likely to be COVID-19 than another respiratory virus.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Drastic drop in influenza virus likely result of less international travel: experts

Drastic drop in influenza virus likely result of less international travel: experts

A Subway fast food restaurant's sign is shown in New York on Oct. 24, 2016. A defamation lawsuit by the world’s largest fast-food operator against Canada's public broadcaster over a report on the chain's chicken sandwiches can proceed, Ontario's top court has ruled. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Mark Lennihan
Subway can press $210-million defamation suit against CBC for show on chicken content

Subway can press $210-million defamation suit against CBC for show on chicken content

 A man watches the financial numbers on the digital ticker tape at the TMX Group in Toronto's financial district on Friday, May 9, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darren Calabrese
Energy pushes S&P/TSX composite up as TC Energy shares rebound after Keystone worries

Energy pushes S&P/TSX composite up as TC Energy shares rebound after Keystone worries

AltaLink seeks to refund extra $350 million over three years to Alberta customers

AltaLink seeks to refund extra $350 million over three years to Alberta customers

Alberta Energy Minister Sonya Savage speaks during an event to mark the start of right-of-way construction for the Trans Mountain Expansion Project, in Acheson, Alta., Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2019. A government lawyer says decisions about environmental policy should be made by elected officials, not courts. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta lawyer argues coal policy decisions belong with politicians, not courts

Alberta lawyer argues coal policy decisions belong with politicians, not courts

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau provides an update on the COVID-19 pandemic from Rideau Cottage in Ottawa on Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Trudeau vows to keep up the fight to sway U.S. on merits of Keystone XL pipeline

Trudeau vows to keep up the fight to sway U.S. on merits of Keystone XL pipeline

A medical team of the new Nurse Isabel Zendal Hospital apply a fiberoptic bronchoscopy to a patient inside a COVID-19 ICU in Madrid, Spain, Monday, Jan. 18, 2021. As the coronavirus curve of contagion turned increasingly vertical after Christmas and New Year's, the Zendal has been busy. On Monday, 392 virus patients were being treated, more than in any other hospital in the Madrid region. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)
Panel: China, WHO should have acted quicker to stop pandemic

GENEVA — A panel of experts commissioned by the World Health Organization… Continue reading

File photo
Wetaskiwin Crime Reduction Unit recovers valuable stolen property

Property valued at over $50,000 recovered by Wetaskiwin Crime Reduction Unit.

Most Read