Former Quebec Premier Jean Charest is defending Bombardier (BBDb.TO) following the uproar over hefty pay hikes for senior executives while the company was receiving more than $1 billion in taxpayer money and cutting jobs.

Admitting that he’s a “big fan” of the company, Charest tells BNN that “every time Bombardier has received support from government it has always reimbursed.  Governments have not lost money.”

Last year, the province of Quebec has invested $1 billion in Bombardier’s troubled CSeries jet program. In February Ottawa agreed to provide $372.5 million in repayable loans to the company to support the CSeries and Global 7000 aircraft projects. 

Charest says both levels of government will reap benefits from their support of Bombardier. “In the end, are taxpayers more prosperous because of Bombardier?  The answer is an unequivocal yes we are.”

Charest said Bombardier operates in an industry “that’s extremely important” for Canada and he’s confident the company will be able turn operations around.

“They are going to bounce back and they are going to do very well”, Charest said.  “I’m totally convinced they are going to be successful.  This company has had all sorts of periods in which they almost went under.  The DNA of Bombardier is one of strong, Canadian resilience.”

That DNA includes a controversial dual-class share structure that gives the Bombardier-Beaudoin family voting control of the company.  Charest, however, says that arrangement has helped to keep Bombardier in Canada.

“The family is very, very committed to Canada,” Charest said.  “I dealt with them when they had those choices to do an assembly plant in the southern part United States.”