Statement made on 12 February 2009 by Senator Francis Fox (retired)
Hon. Francis Fox:
Honourable senators, my question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate. When Senator Fortier was absent, I used to ask the leader questions, but times have changed. My question has to do with the aerospace industry. As honourable senators are aware, many sectors of Canada's economy are going through hard times. The aerospace industry we are so proud of is no exception. Thousands of workers are worried they will lose their jobs, and thousands of young people who would have liked to work in this industry are afraid there will be no jobs for them. Job cuts have been announced by Bell Helicopter, Bombardier and, yesterday, Pratt & Whitney in Longueuil and Halifax.
This high-tech manufacturing sector provides value-added jobs for more than 80,000 Canadians, half of them in Quebec. The industry is particularly prominent in Montreal, the world's third-largest aerospace centre. Despite the difficult economic situation, global demand for aircraft is estimated at $3 trillion. Canada's aerospace industry therefore has enormous potential for medium- and long-term growth, on one condition: it will have to deal with increasingly fierce international competition. As a result, Canada must invest now in research and development in order to profit from that growth.
The government of which the minister is part had promised in its election platform to extend the Strategic Aerospace and Defence Initiative and to increase funding for this initiative by $200 million over four years. The recent budget did not include any money for aerospace, however. Why is the government not keeping its promise to Canada's aerospace industry, because its future competitiveness depends on this?
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