The Globe and Mail ran a story this weekend titled “Bombardier's new Russian locomotive project has Kremlin connections”, but if you go by their actual reporting the headline should have been “Bombardier’s new Russian locomotive project is in full compliance with all laws and regulations.”
Unfortunately for readers, the Globe doesn’t lead with this most salient fact. Quite to the contrary, the story opens with the clear insinuation that Bombardier somehow violated Canadian trade sanctions, and then leaves readers in suspense for two dozen paragraphs before acknowledging there is no such violation. And though it’s clearly the bottom-line of their reporting, they don’t state it clearly and directly. Instead, readers have to connect the dots between bits of legalese and statements from experts buried deep within the story.
Bombardier seeks to be a global leader in rail transportation. We believe that people everywhere deserve access to the very best transportation technology, and we’d like to supply it. This is a goal supported by our shareholders and, we believe, the Canadian public. Yet, the Globe and Mail irresponsibly calls into question Bombardier’s ability and commitment to navigate the challenges of doing business globally in a lawful, transparent and ethical manner.
Worse, the Globe incorrectly implies that Bombardier was somehow trying to hide its involvement, noting the project was not mentioned in the company’s annual report and Bombardier issued no press releases on it. Unfortunately for the Globe’s readers, important information was not provided to put these facts in proper context.
Bombardier uses its annual report to highlight its most significant projects and milestones. Hundreds of smaller projects from around the world – including in Canada, in the United States and numerous other countries - are not mentioned. We simply can’t identify every project in these reports. There’s nothing mysterious, much less improper about this.
Similarly, the lack of any Bombardier press release reflects the simple fact that our partner has responsibility for the sales and marketing of the locomotive in question. We also told the Globe in writing that the locomotive in question had not yet been certified, nor had any been sold, both of which are obvious preconditions for press releases.
Elsewhere, the story mischaracterizes past company statements. For example, the article incorrectly states, that Bombardier “admitted it lobbied” the Canadian government on behalf of a particular individual. Here is what I actually told the Globe in writing months ago. “Like many other companies, we informed the Canadian government of Bombardier’s investments and interests in Russia when Canada was considering imposing sanctions. Our main concern was ensuring that our rail business would not be placed at a competitive disadvantage against our global competitors.”
Readers would be right to apply heavy skepticism to a story that seeks to create sensational headlines, buries the main outcome of the “investigation”, and distorts past company statements. Readers would also be right to question why the Globe dedicated so much time, resources and space to this investigation compared to its coverage of other important aspects of the company. Consider that the Globe’s coverage of the company’s recent earnings release and progress on our major turn-around initiative merit only a few hundred words.
At Bombardier, we make great products. We’re doing exciting things. We love seeing our successes covered in the press. And when we make mistakes, we understand the public deserves a full accounting.
At the same time, the public also deserves objectivity and accuracy in stories about our company. In this instance, we believe the Globe & Mail fell far short of that standard and that the public and the hard-working women and men of our proud company deserve better.
Vice President Communications and Public Affairs