Boeing aims PR offensive at Canada to underline economic importance
Campaign comes a week after U.S. Commerce Department proposes 300% duties on Bombardier jet
Boeing is launching a public relations campaign over the airwaves and online just as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau sits down with U.S. President Donald Trump to talk trade in Washington.
The U.S. aerospace giant embarked Tuesday on what it calls an "intensive multimedia campaign" to remind the Canadian public, as well as business and political leaders, of its contribution to Canada's economy.
The public relations offensive comes in the wake of recent proposals from the U.S. Department of Commerce to impose import duties of almost 300 per cent on Montreal-based Bombardier's CSeries jets, which Boeing alleges are highly subsided and being sold into the American market at cut-rate prices.
Both Canada and Britain, which has a Bombardier plant in Northern Ireland, have threatened to retaliate by excluding the Chicago-based company from future defence contracts.
In its ad campaign, launched Tuesday, Boeing said it contributes $4 billion annually to the Canadian economy.
Boeing said it employs 2,000 people directly and buys equipment and services from 560 Canadian suppliers, with an additional 17,500 jobs supported through that supplier network.
Super Hornet threat
Part of the Liberal government's strategy to convince Boeing to back down has involved reminding U.S. lawmakers in Washington about the number of American jobs dependent on Bombardier.
Canada has threatened to cancel its planned sole-source purchase of 18 Super Hornet jet fighters, which are built at Boeing's military division in St. Louis.
At one point last month, Trudeau picked up the phone to talk with the governor of Missouri about the economic cost of pulling the plug on the proposal.
Kim Westenskow, managing director of Boeing Canada, said in a release Tuesday her company represents 14 per cent of Canada's aerospace economic output.
"What we accomplish together benefits Canada and the entire global aerospace industry," she said. "It is a compelling story that is overdue to be told."
Trudeau lands in Washington tonight.
Renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement is the main topic of his visit, but the mood is glum, partly because of the Bombardier spat.
The prime minister will meet early Wednesday the powerful congressional ways and means committee on Capitol Hill.
A final decision on tariffs against Bombardier is expected early next year.