Turning now to the strange brouhaha involving Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Bombardier Inc., and U.S. aircraft maker Boeing – there's a lot going on, much of it perplexing.
Ostensibly, it's a commercial spat between rivals in a rarefied business. Mr. Trudeau decided his best move was to plot a flight plan right into the centre of it.
Boeing alleges unfairly generous provincial and federal subsidies have allowed Bombardier to slash the sticker price on its C-series aircraft to "absurdly low" levels – the term of art is dumping and the U.S.-based company wants punitive tariffs.
That Boeing would go after Bombardier despite offering no models that directly compete with the C-series is more than a little weird. And in any case, other aerospace companies, including Boeing, all receive vast government assistance. What's more, all businesses sometimes hawk new products at deep discounts.
Distinguishing anti-competitive practices from aggressive business strategy is tricky; one person's dumping is another's loss-leader. Mr. Trudeau can rightly accuse Boeing of pursuing "narrow economic interest to harm a potential competitor." But escalating the fight, by pulling in British PM Theresa May – Bombardier is Northern Ireland's largest private employer – and threatening to drop plans for Canada to buy $6-billion worth of Boeing-built Super Hornet fighter jets because, as Mr. Trudeau put it, "we won't do business with a company that's busy trying to sue us and trying to put our aerospace workers out of business," risks proving Boeing's point. It underlines that Bombardier has no better, more indispensable friend than the Canadian government.
And then there's the collateral damage in all of this. Long-term national defence planning deserves better than third-rank consideration behind Ottawa's defence of Bombardier.
The question, then, is whether Mr. Trudeau's response has been sensible and optimal, or overkill. It feels like the latter.
Answers as to what comes next could land on Sept. 26, when the U.S. Commerce Department issues its preliminary ruling on Boeing's complaint. In the meantime, we're in a world where Bombardier workers in Toronto decided the best expression of solidarity with management was a work stoppage. Curious times indeed.