More than 20 employees banned from military project

U.S. policy forces Montreal company to remove 24 workers from project because of their nationalities

An American policy has forced Montreal's Bell Helicopter to ban 24 employees from working on a U.S. military contract because of their nationalities.

The contract, to start in the spring, involves the assembly of up to 480 helicopters for the military.

The U.S. International Traffic in Arms Regulations does not allow citizens from 25 countries to work on strategic military weapons. Bell Helicopter asked the U.S. government to waive the policy but the request was denied last week.

Many of the workers removed from the project at the Mirabel plant hold dual citizenship and one has worked with the company for nearly 20 years. Their countries of origin include China, North Korea, Haiti, Venezuela, Lebanon and Vietnam.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper told the media last week that he has raised the issue with the U.S. government over the past several months and said the federal government is concerned about the policy.

Bell Helicopter told the employees it would try to re-assign them to other projects. The Canadian company is a division of Bell Helicopter Textron Inc., based in Fort Worth, Texas, the world's largest helicopter maker.

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