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Canada Quebec premier appears to suggest boycott of Sico paint as company moves to Ontario

Quebec Premier Francois Legault has raised the possibility of a boycott against paint manufacturer Sico, which announced Thursday it will relocate to Ontario.

The 81-year-old company said it plans to close its plant in Quebec City and distribution centre in the Montreal area next September, eliminating 125 jobs.

Mr. Legault said Thursday he does “not know whether Quebecers should continue to buy from Sico” when it’s made out-of-province.

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Asked if he was calling for an outright boycott, the premier repeated that the situation bothered him, adding he had to see what other brands of paint were made in Quebec.

“I think Quebecers must be sensitive to buying local, so buying products that are made in Quebec,” he said in Boston, where he was on the second and final day of an economic mission.

The company, which has administrative offices in the Montreal area, cited competitiveness issues to justify the move, but promised to maintain “a strong presence in Quebec and in Canada.”

Sico was founded in Quebec City in 1937 before coming under the ownership of Dutch multinational AkzoNobel in 2006 and U.S. paint supplier PPG Industries Inc. in 2013.

Mr. Legault, who once sat on Sico’s board of directors, said the “bad news” is the outcome of a local company ceding control to a foreign one. He said his government would look into whether it could convince the paint maker to reconsider its decision.

“But it’s the company, ultimately, that will make the decision,” he said. “This reinforces the fact that Mr. [Pierre] Fitzgibbon [the economy and innovation minister] is working on a plan to stop losing our headquarters, so that we stop selling our beautiful businesses abroad.”

Mr. Legault explained that he wanted to see Investissement Quebec get more involved in finding potential controlling shareholders who would help keep head offices in the province, which the previous Liberal government did not do, he said.

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Quebec has faced some tough economic news in recent weeks.

Earlier this month, Lowe’s Companies Inc. announced it will reduce its Canadian footprint by closing 31 stores across the country by the end of January in a bid to streamline its business. The company’s Canadian business is based in Boucherville, Que., and has more than 630 corporate and independent affiliate dealer stores.

Last week, Bombardier Inc. announced it will lay off 5,000 workers, including 2,500 in Quebec, within 18 months, as part of another major restructuring that will also see it sell off assets that include the Q400 turboprop program to B.C.’s Viking Air Ltd. for US$300-million.

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