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Tories pressure Ottawa to expand Billy Bishop airport as way to help Bombardier

A Porter aircraft taxis on the runway at Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport in Toronto, Tuesday February 23, 2016.

Mark Blinch/The Globe and Mail

The Conservatives are ramping up the pressure on federal Liberals to expand Toronto's Billy Bishop island airport as a way of helping Bombardier Inc..

The Conservatives plan to introduce a motion from Saskatchewan MP Kelly Block Tuesday that calls on Ottawa to reverse their opposition to expanding the airport.

The motion also calls for the recognition that "there is already a market solution available that could support Bombardier."

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Tuesday is an opposition day in the House of Commons, meaning the Conservatives can put forward a motion of their choice for a day-long debate and vote.

Montreal-based Bombardier Inc. is seeking at least $1-billion in federal support toward its C-Series jet program. The Quebec government has already pledged $1-billion and is urging the federal government to make a similar commitment. Ottawa has said it is studying the request, but has not made a final decision.

The Conservative motion does not directly address how Ottawa should respond to this request from Bombardier.

In 2013, Porter Airlines expressed an interest in purchasing up to 30 C Series aircraft from Bombardier under the condition that the jets were allowed to land at the Toronto island airport.

Porter's proposal stirred vocal opposition from groups in downtown Toronto who expressed concerns about increased noise, pollution and traffic if the island airport was expanded.

In an interview, Ms. Block criticized Transport Minister Marc Garneau for ruling out an expansion.

"As the critic, it's my job to hold the minister to account for decisions that don't make sense," said Ms. Block. "I think this motion is about jobs and economic growth and the airport is a major contributor to both of those."

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Ms. Block declined to say whether Ottawa should directly support Bombardier.

In a statement, Mr. Garneau said the existing rules for the airport create the right balance between commercial and local community interests, and the government will not be reopening the issue.

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About the Author
Parliamentary reporter

A member of the Parliamentary Press Gallery since 1999, Bill Curry worked for The Hill Times and the National Post prior to joining The Globe in Feb. 2005. Originally from North Bay, Ont., Bill reports on a wide range of topics on Parliament Hill, with a focus on finance. More

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