NDP Leader Tom Mulcair has announced a plan to create a "world-class" aerospace industry in Canada, including a new fund to boost innovation and manufacturing.

Outlining the plan on the tarmac of a Montreal airport on Tuesday, Mulcair said the NDP, if elected on Oct. 19, would invest in a high-tech fund to help small companies adopt cutting-edge technologies, increase production and hire more employees.

The campaign pledge would cost $160 million over four years.

Calling aerospace a key sector for Canada's economy, Mulcair accused the Conservatives of neglecting the industry. He noted that no government minister attended the recent Paris air show to represent Canada and promised the NDP would repair the damage and become a "champion" for the aerospace industry.

"Canada is a pioneer in aerospace," he said, noting traditional roles in the industry from developing regional jets to key roles in space exploration.

A June 2015 report from the Aerospace Industries Association of Canada said the industry contributes $29 billion worth of GDP to Canada's economy each year. More than 700 companies employ more than 180,000 workers in direct and spinoff jobs.

The report also says Canada ranks third in global civil aircraft production, and that manufacturing and MRO activity (maintenance, repair and overhaul) are both expanding, growing by 29 per cent and 37 per cent, respectively, over the last decade. 

The Conservative campaign noted that the 2015 budget offers various supports to boost the aerospace sector, including $1 billion for a strategic aerospace and defence initiative.

The Conservative plan also includes a program to promote large-scale projects that have strong commercial potential, investing $110 million over five years and $55 million each year after.

Harper-Wright conversation 'disquieting'

Mulcair also reacted to a revelation by Conservative Leader Stephen Harper that he had spoken with Nigel Wright since his departure from the prime minister's office.

During an exclusive interview with CBC's chief correspondent Peter Mansbridge that aired last night, Harper said he had a "brief conversation" with Wright to wish him well after he took a job in London.

Mulcair said the contact was inappropriate. "I find it very disquieting, given the fact that it is the prime minister and his office that is the real object of that trial, that he would have been talking to one of the key witnesses," he said. "I find that singularly inappropriate as a lawyer."