Canadi>n was in trouble mostly because they paid a huge amount for Wardair. While this increased revenues, it caused even further operational losses. If they waited a bit longer to acquire Wardair, they would have paid a lot less.
The employees of Canadian saved them once, I believe in 1993. When many of them invested their wages in the company for shares...the result being the signatures plane (DC-10-30 C-FCRE) and a few more years of cash. Canadian was actually making modest profits in the mid-late 1990s, but the debt load was just killing them.
When the crunch time came, AA couldn't or wouldn't answer the cash call and Onex's bid was ruled illegal. Then, Robert Milton was coronated as the king of the Canadian skies.