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The Holy Economic Alliance

(London) During the Farnborough International Air Show, it was fantastic to see Ministers Pierre Fitzgibbon and François-Philippe Champagne multiply industrial and strategic meetings. The two counterparts evolved according to their own program, but without going hand in hand, they shared a common vision of the development of this important economic sector for Quebec.

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For three days, Minister Fitzgibbon, permanently assisted by his Deputy Minister, held meetings at a rate of about ten a day with the leaders of the main aeronautical companies, contractors already present in Quebec and others that we would like to establish there.

“We had a good presence in Farnborough with the Investissement Québec team, the Ministry team and the people from the general delegation in London, who ensured good logistics.

“We came here with three objectives: to support our SMEs so that they increase their exports, to discuss with the main donors so that they increase their investments in Quebec and continue to drive growth, and finally, to promote the electrification of transport,” said the Minister. Fitzgibbon told me, on the sidelines of the Show’s closing reception, organized by the Quebec Delegation in London.

Five days earlier, on Saturday night, at the welcoming reception for the delegation of 35 Quebec companies led by Aéro Montréal in Farnborough, Minister Fitzgibbon had insisted on the good collaboration that existed between him and his federal counterpart, François- Phillip Champagne.

And Minister Champagne returned the favor by publicly praising that same night and on all subsequent occasions the excellent cooperation between the two governments on their economic development strategy.


PHOTO SARAH MONGEAU-BIRKETT, LA PRESSE ARCHIVES

Peter Fitzgibbon

Rarely in the last 20 years have we seen such a concordance of views and objectives between two economic ministers from Ottawa and Quebec. We have long been accustomed to the deployment of tunnel strategies, with each level of government defining its priorities, ignoring those of its counterpart or adopting them very timidly.

“François-Philippe Champagne comes from a business background like mine. Now he is pursuing a political career while I am just passing through, but we speak the same language. We did it in the development of the electric car ecosystem, we do it in aeronautics”, emphasizes Pierre Fitzgibbon.

flowers and challenges

Minister Champagne obviously confirms this community of shared interests.

“We have an excellent collaboration, we have seen it in the automotive, aeronautics and development of the hydrogen sector,” he said.


PHOTO CATHERINE LEFEBVRE, ARCHIVES SPECIAL COLLABORATION

Francois-Philippe Champagne

Personally, the message that I pass on to the CEOs of the multinationals that I meet with is that in aeronautics, we have the talent, we have the resources of tomorrow with green aluminum and steel, and that we can support companies in greening their supply chain. with our renewable energy.

François-Philippe Champagne, Federal Minister for Innovation, Science and Industry

The two ministers intend to multiply efforts for the development in Quebec of new energies that will propel aircraft, in particular SAF (sustainable aviation fuels). “I’m becoming an expert in that area,” says Pierre Fitzgibbon.

For his part, Minister Champagne recalls that aeronautics does not only concern Montreal. Two of the largest SMEs in your riding in Saint-Maurice—Champlain, Placeteco and Delatek, are active in this sector.

During his visit to Farnborough, François-Philippe Champagne was to meet with Lockheed Martin leaders to discuss the economic consequences of the CF-35 fighter purchase contract, an issue that worries Quebec aeronautics players.

The CAE de Saint-Laurent company is in charge of training the F-18 pilots and runs the risk of not participating in the CF-35 program because the multinational carries out the training of its planes itself.

The federal government must ensure that the economic and industrial benefits of the Lockheed Martin program are distributed according to the experience and size of Canadian companies in the field.

“We are the best in the world and Canadian taxpayer money will pay for the maintenance and training costs of the CF-35 fleet. We have to get our fair share,” CAE’s CEO explained to me.

François-Philippe Champagne is aware of this big problem and said he wanted Lockheed Martin leaders to know that Canada intends to reap significant economic benefits commensurate with the investments the federal government will make.

Minister Fitzgibbon also wants the negotiations with Lockheed Martin to lead to acceptable conditions for Quebec companies, but he is not at the discussion table.

There will always be issues in which the expectations of one do not necessarily correspond to the will of the other. But in the field of economic development and, more specifically, aeronautics, we are clearly trying to minimize these divisions.


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