London mayor talks General Dynamics with PM
Published Monday, January 28, 2019 6:11AM EST Last Updated Monday, January 28, 2019 4:52PM EST
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has confirmed that a priority of his government is to preserve the thousands of jobs at London's General Dynamics Land Systems.
That word came in a statement from London Mayor Ed Holder after he met with the PM in Ottawa Monday.
But, the brief statement also hints at a number of sensitive issues that could put the arms deal with Saudi Arabia in jeopardy.
During a photo op with Holder, Trudeau explained, “Obviously we've been making significant infrastructure investments in housing, we're looking to move forward with you on transit projects…Always happy to talk about jobs and continuing to strengthen London.”
But more pressing matters were handled during the private meeting Holder had with the PM and London MPs Kate young and Peter Fragiskatos.
A statement released by the city says the focus was on the $15-billion Saudi arms deal for which London's General Dynamics is to build light armoured vehicles.
It reads in part, “the Prime Minister confirmed that a clear priority of his government was to preserve the 3,000 to 4,000 London-area jobs."
Holder emphasized the point when reached by phone saying, “Common ground was the importance of the jobs in London, Ont. which not only included General Dynamics employees but also feeder companies as well. He was quite clear that that is something that was absolutely crucial to him and he understands the importance of it.”
But the statement goes on to point out areas of concern, including “significantly delayed payments by the Saudi Government which are causing General Dynamics payment difficulties with its suppliers, and human rights concerns.”
Holder concedes these unresolved issues could put the deal in jeopardy.
“What really put things into question over these last few months has been issues around what the dealings were...Saudi Arabia...I think these are complex things that one has to deal with but I think what's important is that as mayor I bring it to the Prime Minister's attention directly.”
Holder says it's premature to talk about an aid package for General Dynamics employees who could be displaced should the arms deal fall through.