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|I Am Skooter|
So here's us, on the raggedy edge.
“You cannot just look at a company that’s in a crisis point and say, ‘Well, we’re going to let it die, and live with the ripple effects…I for one am not going to stand by and watch that happen to a very important sector of Canadian Industry.”
- Minister of Industry, David Emerson on Paul Tellier’s resignation from Bombardier, December 14th, 2004
With this, the man who privatized BC Ferries (an essential resource, as the Supreme Court has designated the Newfoundland ferry system) and the Vancouver Airport (essential for entirely different reasons) has crossed the line from being a small-c Liberal to being a large-C Communist. Well, maybe not quite — but his mind has certainly snapped somewhere.
Paul Tellier sold the parts of Bombardier that were good at generating cash flow (recreation) and were relatively predictable: economy in the dump? Probably fewer snowmobiles being bought. Middle of the winter? Why do we still have all these JetSki’s - get rid of ‘em, next year’s half way here.
Instead, Tellier has focused on Bombardier’s “bid” business: the type of mega-project business that keeps lobbyists and upper management steadily employed, but not the guys in the factories. Sure it comes and goes — and when it comes, it can be very very good — but when it goes it can really go.
Building Skytrains and planes that freeze up too easily (Wait: isn’t this company based in Quebec? Shouldn’t they know something about ice?) is sexy business, but it’s also very risky. If Vancouver needs a skytrain line today you spend a lot of money bidding on it: get it and the infrastructure pays off for a while; miss it, and you just wasted a lot of time (and money) bidding.
Does this sound like the kind of company that should be getting government money? Especially considering that so many of the projects they’re bidding on are funded by governments? Bombardier — and Tellier — was essentially getting a double subsidy in many cases, and it wasn’t really working.
No, Mr. Emerson, now is not the time to ask the Wizard for that heart you’ve been looking for these many years. Now is the time to use your Iron Mask for protection. If Bombardier is as robust a company today as it was in the past, it will rise again — and be stronger for it.
Now, let’s talk about those ferries again? Why’d we privatize them when you’re offering up this subsidy? I know — BC Ferries should be based in Quebec! That’s the ticket.