Recently I spent a couple of days in Montreal, one of my favourite places in Canada. A great time to visit and discuss the outcome of the recent Quebec elections, the ongoing corruption investigation, as well as take the temperature of the business community on the economy, and on CETA, the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreementcurrently in (we hope) final stages of negotiation.
Whilst there, I also had the pleasure of visiting Bombardier – with our Consul General Patrick Holdich – and their facility at Mirabel which is producing the new CSeries aircraft. It was exciting to see the facility at such a key point in the production of the aircraft.
We saw the “Wooden Bird” – the wooden full-scale mock-up on which they are test-fitting key interior components – and the “CIASTA” rig, where they are testing all the integrated systems. And there was a real sense of anticipation as the wings were due to arrive from Northern Ireland the following day.
Fun though the visit was, I wasn’t just going as a tourist – the UK has a real vested interest in the success of Bombardier, which has investments across the UK in aerospace and rail. Indeed, Bombardier are the single largest private sector employer in Northern Ireland, so those CSeries wings make their own key contribution to British jobs and growth.
And this is a reminder of the strength of the economic relationship between the UK and Canada. Bombardier is just one example of the enormous economic contribution that Canadian companies make in the UK, because the business and investment environment in Britain makes it worth their while: our skilled and flexible workforce, and stable and transparent regulatory environment, our low rates of corporation tax and our gateway to the rest of the European market. And the relationship cuts both ways of course, with Canada being Britain’s second largest trading partner, and British companies enjoying the benefits of a stable and prosperous Canadian economy.
So, next time you’re on a plane, you might just take a moment to wonder whether it, too, is an embodiment of the strength of UK-Canada economic collaboration. The chances are it is!