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Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard says Quebecers have the right to criticize the company but should recognize its significance.

Jacques Boissinot/The Canadian Press

Quebec's premier says the province needs to take care of Bombardier because of its unique importance to the province.

Philippe Couillard is urging Quebecers to support the transportation company, which has recently faced a strong public backlash over planned hikes to executive pay.

Couillard made the comments earlier today after visiting a Bombardier plant in Haifa, Israel.

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The Quebec government gave Bombardier roughly $1-billion US in 2016 while the federal government has announced a $372.5-million loan package for the firm's CSeries and Global 7000 aircraft programs.

The plane and train maker eventually postponed the executive pay raises and its chairman of the board stepped down amidst public outcry.

Couillard said Quebecers have the right to criticize the company but should recognize its significance.

"There are not so many Quebec companies that have a global footprint," he said at a news conference. "We must always remember it. It's a very important company for Quebec."

Couillard also said he was pleased with recent comments by Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland that hinted the federal government would defend Bombardier's interests in its current trade spat with Boeing.

On Thursday, Freeland said Boeing should not take military contracts with Canada for granted – presumably a response to Boeing's claim that Bombardier received subsidies allowing it to sell its CSeries planes at below-market prices.

"Two can play that game," Couillard said.

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