You might have missed the news that Canada held its hotly contested national elections this week, but you can be sure officials at Diamond Aircraft were paying close attention. The election results, after all, could have an impact on an all-important decision related to a $35 million government loan the beleaguered manufacturer says it needs to keep its D-Jet program -- and possibly the company itself -- alive.
The Canadian government is finally expected to make a ruling on the loan request now that voters have cast ballots in the election, which for weeks had put the Austrian-based aircraft maker squarely in the political spotlight. Diamond’s decision to layoff 213 workers at its London, Ontario, factory in the run up to the elections became a central campaign issue as Canada’s Liberal Party threw its strong support behind the company, saying the loan request would be a top priority if the party managed to win a majority.
Instead, the Liberals were dealt a crushing defeat. Former Harvard professor Michael Ignatieff, who was among the most outspoken supporters of Diamond and its workers, resigned as Liberal Party leader on Tuesday after his party’s loss, which saw Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Conservative Party secure a majority government.
The election results don’t necessarily mean Diamond’s loan request is dead, however. The application now rests with Industry Canada, and will be decided “solely on its merits, nothing else,” said Ed Holder, Conservative West London member of parliament, who won his reelection bid. Holder had faced withering criticism during the campaign that his party should have committed to the funding for Diamond or at least agreed to make the loan request a top item of business immediately after the election. Holder now says he’ll meet with Diamond officials in the coming days to discuss the loan application.
Peter Maurer, Diamond Aircraft president, has voiced his frustration that the loan wasn’t considered before the elections, saying laying off employees related to R&D for the single-engine D-Jet drained talent that might never return to the company. Without the government loan, Maurer has warned that Diamond may be forced to close its Canada operation, where piston DA-42’s are built.