Mr. Speaker, you will understand that having in my riding the beautiful Mirabel region, home to a fair chunk of the aerospace industry in Quebec, it is a pleasure for me to rise and speak to Bill C-4.
My colleagues have stated the Bloc Québécois's position several times already. We are in favour of the bill entitled: an act to implement the Convention on International Interests in Mobile Equipment and the Protocol to the Convention on International Interests in Mobile Equipment on Matters Specific to Aircraft Equipment
We have all understood that the bill is meant to allow bankers to take equipment sold as security. It is true that the industry is facing financing problems and that airlines have difficulty getting the required financing for equipment they sell because buyers, at present, are close to insolvency. All major airlines are seeking protection under the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act. Some U.S. airlines are considering that protection for the second time. Therefore, this bill is clearly needed.
I repeat the comments I have been making since the beginning of this debate. Once again, I find it rather odd that the Minister of Transport is bringing this legislation before us on its own, without any real plan to revive and relaunch the entire aeronautics and aerospace industry in Canada.
I say that because our companies are under enormous pressure, not only because they have trouble financing themselves, but also because there are many other countries that want to see this industry move to their own territory.
For some weeks, we have been listening to our American neighbours. Three states in the U.S. are ready, on their own, to offer the same amount as the Government of Canada to help Bombardier, among others, launch its complete new aircraft concept, for example.
This is a difficult message for the aeronautics and aerospace industry in Canada. I can give the House a few figures. The United States invests $45 billion per year in aeronautics and aerospace research and development. Some $6.5 billion goes to three companies—Boeing, Raytheon and United Technologies.
In Europe, Airbus receives $3 billion for research and development from various European countries. Here in Canada only $165 million is available, not for Bombardier alone but for the entire aeronautics and aerospace industry.
It should be clear to everyone that this sector is underfunded. Obviously, I have a lot of trouble with that. I will repeat that I come from the Mirabel region. We have heard that men and women who work in this fine industry are going to lose their jobs. Some have already lost them. That is unacceptable.
It is unacceptable when the only action the government is taking is to introduce a bill whose purpose is to have the banks fund this industry. It is as if the Government of Canada said to all industries, “Look here. What we are proposing today is that you go see your bank. The banks will provide financing for your buyers”.
And yet we know that, even if this bill is passed, even if all the countries in the world passed this legislation and an international registry were created, there are not many bankers who would be more interested in taking airplanes as collateral, given the state of this industry throughout the world.
Will it help? Yes, the industry thinks it will; it is asking for this legislation. It has been asking for it for years, and Canada has been waiting for years.
The problem is people are now hitting the panic button. We want a major recovery plan for the aerospace industry throughout Canada. The industry is hitting the button, but obviously, nobody in the federal government is responding. A drama is taking place in the industry. It is a drama, because 55% of all jobs in aerospace are in Quebec.
I repeat that when I started as a member of Parliament in 2000, the Prime Minister, Jean Chrétien, made a declaration, which he repeated during the election campaign. It struck me. Understandably so. Such things are of interest to an MP whose riding includes Mirabel. He said that the aerospace industry was to Quebec what the auto industry was to Ontario. At the time, he pointed out that a little more than 61% of all aerospace jobs were in Quebec.
Unfortunately, since then, we have lost 7% of them. The figures have just come out. The industry prepared an update, and representatives reported it to us last week. The Liberal members refused to meet with them. But the representatives reported that the figure is now 55%. The Liberals are happy that Quebec has 55% of all jobs in this sector, despite the fact that this figure represents a 7% reduction for Quebec. That is the reality.
In my region, as you know, Mirabel is close to Boisbriand. We benefited a little bit from the auto industry. The one remaining auto manufacturing plant in 2000 was there. However, in the past three years, since the statement by the prime minister, the GM plant in Boisbriand has shut down. Before the last election, the Liberals announced a support and recovery program for the auto industry in Ontario. Once again, Quebec and the whole aerospace industry are crying for help, arguing that survival was despite all odds. I am very pleased that it got through the events arising from September 11, 2001. The industry managed to survive. But we are currently witnessing drastic staff cuts and, obviously, fierce competition from the US and other countries in the world. They are prepared to ask our businesses, our Bombardiers of this world, the flagships of Quebec's and Canada's economy, to build a plant there, because they have money for them.
Once again, playing fair, Bombardier asks Canada to tell it promptly what its intentions are before it responds to the offers made elsewhere. Today, in this chamber, we are discussing Bill C-4 on the financing of equipment and the fact of putting the future of Bombardier into the hands of the bankers. Everybody knows that it will help and that we agree with that. The problem, though, is that Canada does not have a relief and recovery plan for the industry.
We have the figures to back up what we are saying, with the analysis provided by the famous Technology Partnerships Canada program for research and development. This program was established in 1996. Believe it or not, not one cent more has been made available since, more or less. Despite the fact that the industry's research and development expenditures increase by 8% per year, the budget for the Technology Partnerships Canada program has not been increased. Why? Assistance is provided to the industry and, under this program established in 1996, royalties are paid. Financial assistance is provided to the industry and, when the industry makes sales, it pays royalties, which are reinvested into the program. The only money available is the money that comes in. Because agreements were signed respecting the development of equipment, be it helicopters or airplanes, throughout the industry, no matter what company, money is coming back. The only new money available is the money that has been put back by the industry since the program was established in 1996.
The industry says that this does not make any sense at a time when competition is becoming ferocious. In the United States, some $45 billion is available, and $3 billion U.S. in Europe. That is how much is available to those competing with our industrial flagships, the likes of Bombardier or Pratt & Whitney, which manufacture all aerospace components in Quebec. The recovery or development plans developed by theses industries cannot be too extensive. Yet, that is what Bombardier wants to do in order to be competitive: introduce an entire line of new aircraft. The first phase of the plan includes research and development, production and construction of new lines.
There is also financing to promote exports. In addition, it is true that the bill will help bankers get guarantees. All countries, however, have funding support programs for equipment.
This has been the object of many debates in recent months. There was the loss of the contract. Air Canada bought some equipment from Embraer. This is how things work: the country where the industry is located, Brazil in the case of Embraer, provides some of the funding required. This is why I said earlier that this bill is good, because it allows bankers to take security. However, the problem is that, right now, bankers in the world do not have confidence in the aerospace industry, and particularly not in buyers. Therefore, governments are forced to provide guarantees.
Currently, Brazil is funding 80% of Embraer's deliveries, while here, the Canadian government is funding only 41% of the deliveries of Regional Jet and Bombardier. So, after the buyer paid a visit to the bank and was told that it could not get help, or that it could but only up to a certain percentage, and as Embraer needed venture capital, it turned to the Brazilian government, which guaranteed the loans. This is of course the system in place. Liquid assets must obviously be protected.
In this regard, Canada's program has not been reviewed. Once again, we are debating a bill that is indeed important and one that the industry has been asking for years. However, it merely delegates to bankers the responsibility for getting the aviation and aerospace industry back on track, but this is not what we need. We need a major federal support program, otherwise, unfortunate as this may sound, the new Bombardier regional jets will be developed in some American states or in other countries.
Of course, when we put questions to him, the Minister of Transport says that we should be realist and respectful of the ability of Canadians to pay. I hope that the minister will also be respectful of the ability of the Brazilians, Americans or Europeans who fund this high tech industry so important to us.
During the last Parliament , I had the opportunity to go with you, Mr. Speaker, to the international show at Le Bourget as the Bloc Québécois representative and transport critic; you too were involved in the transportation file. I was surprised by the eagerness of countries without an aircraft or aerospace industry that would have liked at all cost to attract aerospace manufacturing to their country. Having such an industry is very glamourous for a country. It is high tech at its highest level. This is the reality.
We in Quebec are fortunate to have the second highest concentration of aerospace and aeronautical industries in North America. That is very fortunate. We have the fourth highest concentration of aerospace manufacturing in the world.
Once again the federal government is dragging its feet. However, during the last election campaign, it did not forget to invest to help the automobile industry. It did not forget, and it was done at Quebec's expense. As you know, since the Boisbriand GM plant closed down, no car is manufactured in Quebec although the province is one of the biggest producers of aluminum and magnesium in the world. Some 85 per cent of these metals are used to build automobiles. We are one of the biggest producers of those basic materials. We do not manufacture automobiles and very few car parts because, as you now know, it is all about industrial clusters. When you have an automobile industry, a whole spare part industry gravitates around it. That is what is meant by an industrial cluster.
They set up shop in Quebec. That is what happened with the aviation and aerospace industry, but we are losing ground. I explained it earlier. In 2000, we had 62% of jobs; in 2004 we only have 55%. I repeat we must put money where ideas are. Of course I remember the statement by the then Prime Minister of Canada, which the new Transport Minister has repeated, namely, that the aerospace industry is to Quebec what the automobile industry is to Ontario. However money speaks louder than words. On must be able to invest where needed. A vigorous aerospace industry expansion program is long overdue. Time is of the essence.
Such a program ought to have been tabled simultaneously with Bill C-4. That is what we ought to have been hearing today, speeches in support of the government, as there are for this bill. All parties would have risen to speak in support of a massive renewal effort for the aerospace and aeronautical industry. But it is not there.
When will it be? We have just heard some members tell us that yes, they are working on it. Let them go and talk with the owners of the aviation and aerospace companies and they will see that they know what they want. They could provide you with a draft program in no time. Agreement would not be long in coming.
The problem is that there is no desire on the part of the federal government to create any major revival of this industry. Why not? I would say for political reasons. Of course, there are still bitter feelings toward Quebec. That is the harsh reality, and that is why many Quebeckers feel Canada is not their country and they would be better off on their own.
Once again today we find ourselves faced with the same reality: a federal government that is turning a deaf ear to the demands of an industry that is, once again, concentrated in large part in Quebec, but has lost a lot of ground since 2000.
The Bloc Québécois will do everything in its power in this House to return the aerospace industry to its former status in Quebec, and in Canada of course. We are here to defend the interests of Quebec. We were here, we will continue to be here, and in greater numbers than in 2000. We have many new colleagues with us now to tell this House that Quebec has needs
If Canada cannot give Quebec what it wants, it just needs to let us go. It is as simple as that, no more complex than that. We will take our own tax money and with it will be able of helping these leading lights of our industry. That solution fully respects the interests of each party.
Once again, on behalf of the people of Quebec, I am asking the federal government to waste no time in tabling a recovery plan for the entire aerospace and aeronautical industry across Canada. The entire industry needs help, and so does the part of it that is situated in Quebec.
I will end on that note. Mirabel experienced Liberal-style management. Land was expropriated for the construction of Mirabel airport. That was the approach taken. The dream came true at a cost of displacing more than 3,000 people, the greatest deportation of men and women since the deportation of the Acadians. That is what happened in Mirabel.
An airport was built in the middle of nowhere. I know there is no turning back once the airport is built. The only problem is that the Liberals have never had the courage of their political decisions. It was the Pearson government that decided to put Mirabel airport there. Do not tell me that when the airport was built they did not have plans for autoroutes 13 and 50 and a high-speed train to make it accessible. A station was built under the terminal. Anyone who has followed this file closely, knows it.
The only problem is that the Liberals lacked the political will. Just think back to when the decision was made. Mirabel was built in order to close Dorval and have all flights go through Mirabel. That was the objective, but no highway or railway links were ever built. When there were 75 Liberal MPs in Quebec it was decided that Dorval would stay.
It is time to stop thinking that the Liberals have the answer to everything. When it comes to Mirabel, they caused most of the problems we are having. In my view they have been in power far too long. The Liberals have been in power for 30 of the 40 years since Mirabel was announced. We have seen the results.
We have seen what that did to the automotive industry. GM in Boisbriand is now closed and demolished thanks to the Liberal government. I hope the aviation and aerospace industry will not experience the same fate as Mirabel and GM in Boisbriand. I hope the Liberals will be able to respect Quebeckers for once.