Canada opposes ICAO's proposed move to Qatar
By: Ruchi Shroff
Canada is resisting a push by Qatar to move the headquarters of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) from Montreal to Doha, Reuters has reported.
ICAO, which was created as a UN agency, has been based in Montreal since 1947. Qatar had reportedly argued that Montreal - in the eastern province of Quebec - was too far from Europe and Asia and suffered cold winters. It also complained Canada made it hard for delegates to get visas and said Canadian taxes were too high. Qatar says it will build ICAO a brand new headquarters and cover all the organization's running costs.
Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird has spoken to Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani about the issue.
"Our government is working to keep ICAO in Montreal," Joseph Lavoie, a spokesperson for Baird reportedly said. "Minister Baird is personally ready, willing and keen to work with the government of Quebec and the city of Montreal to keep ICAO in such a world-class city."
The lease on ICAO's current Montreal headquarters runs out at the end of 2016 and the organization is in talks with Canada to extend that to 2036.
ICAO's 191 member states will vote on the Qatari proposal at an annual general assembly in Montreal, which runs from September 24 to October 4. A minimum of 60% must vote in favor to back the move.
"To my knowledge it's the first official request to move the permanent seat that we've had since we were established here," spokesman Anthony Philbin reportedly said.