Anyone up for some good news about a Canadian business? Bombardier just announced that its new business aircraft – the Global 7500 – set a record for the longest non-stop flight by a business jet – over 8,150 nautical miles.
Actually, that’s more than just good. It’s amazing. Our new aircraft has the longest range, the largest cabin and smoothest ride of any business jet ever made. Its reach can take it from Toronto, over the North Pole at nearly supersonic speed, and arrive in Hong Kong without refueling, carrying more passengers in an extra-spacious cabin that has no rival.
Here’s the best part. The plane was conceived, designed, manufactured, and first flown right here in Canada. It represents the best of Canadian engineering prowess and craftsmanship and is shining proof that Canadian companies can compete and win in global competition.
Our country can take great pride in this historic achievement and no one deserves the recognition more than the thousands of Canadian workers, from the test pilots to mechanics to engineers and electricians, whose determined effort made it possible. Yet, all too often that work and their stories go untold.
A recent poll showed that less than a quarter of the public even knew the Global 7500 aircraft exists. Fewer know about the leading role Bombardier plays in the adoption of sustainable alternative jet fuels, a part of our commitment to preserving the skies which we have the privilege of flying through. Or, that Bombardier has continued to invest billions of dollars in its business jets segment over the last five years, driving new products, Canadian patents and sustained employment.
If all this sounds remarkable, the real surprise is the narrow way our country’s news media has covered Canada’s business aviation industry. Think about it. How often do you hear about the billions of dollars business jet sales bring into the Canadian economy? Did you know that there are barely enough seats in the Rogers Centre (Skydome) to fit all the people whose livelihoods are linked to Canada’s business aviation industry?
A cynic might say it is because the media isn’t interested in good news stories or that they are so fixated on villainizing corporations and wealthy individuals who use business jets that they can’t bring themselves to say anything positive about the industry.
Worse yet is the dishonest attempt to discredit the women and men of Bombardier and paint our company as an organization that prowls the globe offering sweetheart deals to shadowy characters with disregard for the law and our reputation. This latest sorry example of cheap shot journalism was on full display in a recent Globe & Mail article.
In this article, Globe reporter Mark MacKinnon – who has been previously called out by Canada’s National News Media Council for failing to meet basic journalism standards in his reporting of our company – suggests that newly “leaked” records from a now defunct Lithuanian Bank show a “tie” between a Russian tax fraud scheme and a decade old business jet sale. MacKinnon further suggests that this apparent connection implies flaws in our due diligence process.
Putting aside the absurd standard of perfect hindsight, to which the Globe attempts to hold Bombardier, readers are deprived of critical information and context necessary to understand the full story. So, once again we must set the record straight on behalf of our employees.
Let’s start with the fact that Bombardier conducts a robust due diligence on potential buyers of every aircraft we sell. In some cases we move forward. In others we decline. Simply put, we do what we believe is right based on the information available at that time. It is a process that has served us well while delivering more than 1700 aircraft over the past decade, and one that we continue to refine as technology advances.
Others follow similar processes, and it should be noted that Bombardier was far from alone in conducting business with holding companies through the failed Lithuanian Bank. Others include major western banks, American Express, the World Economic Forum, a charity run by Prince Charles, and even the late pop star Prince and the Chelsea football team. The Globe singles out Bombardier, obviously, to make it seem as if we had some distinctive role when the truth is that these commercial transactions were widespread.
Readers should look at how more honest media outlets describe the transactions behind the “leaked” banking records. For example, The Guardian states that “There is no suggestion that end recipients of the funds were aware of the origin of the source money, which arrived via a disguised route. However, the [leaked] documents indicate that criminal and legitimate money may have been mixed together, making it impossible to trace the origin source, before passing through screen companies into the global banking system.”
Even the source that provided these records to the Globe’s reporter, an investigative outlet called OCCRP, cautions that “the very purpose of such systems is to obscure the ownership of money that goes through them” and warns that the material must be viewed in that light. But the Globe blew right through those caveats in its blind zeal to malign us.
The crucial point here is that even the best oversight systems and safeguards aren’t 100% fail-proof. That perspective is essential because when bad actors go to extreme lengths to conceal their misdeeds, the fault belongs with the bad actor, not the businesses that are misled. When banks or insurers advertise in the Globe, for example, is the paper at fault if one of those firms is later accused of wrongdoing?
This missing context is what makes the Globe’s pretend outrage so troubling.
At a time when the hardworking women and men at Bombardier Business Aircraft are achieving remarkable new heights, here’s hoping the press can start aiming a little higher too.
Vice President Communications and Public Affairs