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Alain Bellemare, president and Chief Executive Officer Bombardier Inc., speaks to the media at a news conference Thursday, October 29, 2015 in Montreal. (Ryan Remiorz/THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Alain Bellemare, president and Chief Executive Officer Bombardier Inc., speaks to the media at a news conference Thursday, October 29, 2015 in Montreal. (Ryan Remiorz/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

ALAIN BELLEMARE

Committing to Canadian aerospace can foster innovation and prosperity Add to ...

Alain Bellemare is president and CEO of Bombardier Inc. He is also a member of the corporation’s board of directors.

Canada is at an important crossroad. We are one of the most envied countries in the world, yet our future prosperity depends on the courage of our leaders – in business and in government – to chart a bold, forward-looking path; a path that fuels innovation and opens new opportunities for economic growth.

I spoke on Wednesday at the Public Policy Forum’s Canadian Growth Summit. This year’s theme was “Lifting Canada beyond a 2-per-cent growth future.” There was clear consensus among the participants around innovation as a catalyst for growth; recognition that Canada’s ability to harness our people’s brain power is the best path to growth, to creating high-paying jobs and to injecting new money into the Canadian economy.

For decades, Bombardier has invested in Canada – and as we’ve expanded, so has the industry we anchor. We’ve attracted global companies to Canada’s shores, supported the creation of some of the world’s best engineering programs in universities across Canada and helped forge a commercial aerospace ecosystem that’s the envy of countries around the world.

Today, Bombardier is Canada’s largest R&D investor and among its leading exporters. We employ thousands of engineers and technical experts in Canadian factories and facilities and build some of the most advanced products that are sold around the world. We are at the core of an industry that directly and indirectly employs 211,000 Canadians from coast to coast. And because our employees are highly skilled, our people earn wages that are 1.7 times the national average.

Even without the advantages of a strong domestic aerospace market or the benefits of technology transfer that result from government-funded defence programs, Canada has become one of the leading innovators, producers and exporters of aerospace products in the world. It’s a remarkable achievement, and Bombardier is proud of the role we have played in this incredible success story.

But now, it is time to look forward and recognize that Canada’s future prosperity rests not just on the abundance of our land, but also on the know-how and ingenuity of our people. Driven by a passion to innovate and backed by an ecosystem of partners and stakeholders, the aerospace industry can continue to be a strong platform for Canada’s future growth. Supporting it should become a key component of a national effort to rise above the boom and bust of commodities cycles.

As globalization and urbanization continue to reshape the world, the need to move people safely and efficiently will only grow. The demand for Canadian-made planes and trains to connect the world and decongest our cities will open new opportunities and new horizons. At Bombardier, we are positioning ourselves to seize these opportunities. We have invested in developing the most advanced and environmentally friendly products in our industry and we are now taking the hard actions necessary to turn our company around and ensure its long-term competitive position.

However, for Bombardier – and our industry – to truly win, Canada needs a national focus on aerospace. The U.S., Brazilian and European governments have already lined up behind their aerospace sectors and champions, supporting their growth and competitiveness. Recognizing the economic benefits of an indigenous aerospace industry, we now see the same thing happening in Japan, Russia and China.

Canada’s aerospace industry can continue to grow and thrive in this environment. But to do so, Canada must commit to aerospace as a vital component to our economic future and take the necessary policy and program decisions to ensure our competitiveness. We must recognize the more than 200,000 people that work in our industry not only as an achievement worth celebrating, but also as a strong foundation upon which to build.

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