Arab governments seek to punish Canada's Middle East advocacy by moving a UN agency out of Montreal.
The International Civil Aviation Organization, which sets international rules for airplane transportation, has been headquartered in Montreal since 1947, but Qatar is now bidding to relocate it to the Middle East in 2016, trying to muster votes from 115 countries to approve the move at a meeting this fall.
The occasion for the move? A meeting by Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird with Israeli Justice Minister Tzipi Livni at a venue in eastern Jerusalem. It's pretty amazing that Qatar would assert a claim to determine where a Canadian minister of the crown may go and whom he may see. What happened next is even more amazing:
At an April 15 meeting with Arab ambassadors in Ottawa, Mr. Baird had a tetchy exchange with Egyptian ambassador Wael Aboul-Magd, who asked him to clarify Canadian policy, according to sources familiar with the events.
In response, Mr. Baird read comments made by Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi in 2010, when he referred to the “occupiers of Palestine” as the “descendants of apes and pigs.” Mr. Baird called the slur unhelpful to Mideast peace. Mr. Aboul-Magd replied that Mr. Morsi was praised by Western governments for brokering a 2012 ceasefire in Gaza between Hamas and Israel.
Update: Maybe it's time for Canada to re-examine this:
It's a long, long flight from JFK to Doha if you have to go due east.