Qatar’s bid to relocate a United Nations civil aviation agency from Montreal to Doha has garnered such an outpouring of anger among Canadian politicians that one official is calling it “one of the greatest political reunions in the history of Quebec and Canada.”
The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), responsible for setting international civil aviation standards, has been headquartered in Montreal since its inception in 1946.
Last month, Qatar offered the ICAO a chance to set up shop in Doha starting in 2016, promising to bankroll the construction of new premises and cover the relocation of materials and staff, as well as expenses from staff terminations and severance packages, AP reports.
Canada stands to lose some $120 million in revenues if the agency is relocated, according to the CBC. Montreal Mayor Michael Applebaum also said some 60 other offices function there due to the ICAO’s presence.
Thus, the response to Qatar’s offer has been vitriolic, with politicians united under the banner “Team Montreal” to criticize the Gulf country’s wealth, foreign policy and even its weather.
Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird appears to have particularly taken issue with the fact that Qatar did not tell him about the bid when he visited here last month. According to AP, he said:
“I, for one, would much rather have four seasons rather than a crushing humid temperature of more than 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) 12 months a year.”
The decision to move the ICAO and keep it as is will be made in September, when Qatar must garner the support of at least 60 percent the ICAO’s 191 members. According to some Canadian politicians, the Western nation’s pro-Israel policy could prompt Arab nations to favor Qatar.
Credit: Photo of ICAO headquarters courtesy of Wikipedia