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Political foes trying to keep ICAO from leaving

May 3, 2013, Ottawa – Some unlikely allies join forces today to show their opposition to a bid to move the International Civil Aviation Organization from Montreal to Qatar.


May 3, 2013
By Wings Magazine

May 3, 2013, Ottawa – Some unlikely allies join forces today to show their
opposition to a bid to move the International Civil Aviation
Organization from Montreal to Qatar.

Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird and Quebec's minister of
international affairs Jean-Francois Lisee will hold a news
conference to present a common front on keeping the UN agency in
Montreal.

Although it's unusual for federal Conservatives and Quebec
separatists to share a podium, Baird told the House of Commons
Thursday that he will work with anyone to ensure the agency doesn't
move.

Qatar made a pitch last month to the agency about moving its
Montreal headquarters to the Middle East kingdom's capital of Doha.

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Baird was in Doha in early April and says Qatar officials didn't
mention they were going to make a pitch.

The organization sets international standards for civil aviation
and is the only United Nations agency based in Canada.

Baird points out that Qatar is a country with great wealth and is
offering a lot of money to lure the agency to Doha, but that
shouldn't be a factor.

"We don't think that these type of things should be for sale and
we're going to work strongly to convince other countries,'' Baird
said Thursday.

Baird and Lisee will be joined by the mayor of Montreal at
Friday's news conference.

Also backing Canada's bid are international unions who say a move
to Qatar is at odds with the ICAO's mandate.

"How can an organization that has to defend the rights and
safety of workers and passengers be moved to a state whose citizens'
pleas for democracy are answered with batons and buckshot?'' David
Cockroft, the general secretary of the International Transport
Federation, said in a statement earlier this week.

Canada has played host to the ICAO since 1946. Its current
headquarters were built in the 1990s at a cost of $100 million.

Losing the ICAO would be a financial and political blow for
Canada.

Montreal is the hub of Canada's aviation industry, and its
international reputation as a major player is reflected in the
ICAO's longtime residency.

The organization also feeds the city's economy; it employs 534
staff and says it generates some $80 million annually for Montreal's
economy and 1,200 direct and indirect jobs.

The Qatari bid, meanwhile, is seen by government critics as being
politically motivated and a reflection of Canada's pro-Israel policy
in the Middle East.
For the bid to prevail, a minimum of 60 per cent of the ICAO's
191 member states must sign off, a threshold that could send a
strong rebuke to Canada.