Liberal MP Scott Brison seems to be following in the footsteps of his fellow MP Bob Rae, Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty and the former leader of his party, Jean Chrétien, in taking the part of the United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.) against the national interests of Canada. Mr. Brison is even delivering messages for a representative of the family owned business and wannabe country known as the U.A.E.
Jean Chrétien, of course, makes a habit of lining up on the side of despotic regimes like Communist China. We’re used to that and aren’t too surprised to read that he’s siding with his pals in the Gulf, pressing PM Stephen Harper to rein in the ongoing diplomatic feud between Ottawa and the U.A.E. Why isn’t the former prime minister calling for the U.A.E to reverse it high-handed, arrogant approach to its relations with Canada? But that’s typical Chrétien, eh?
As for Dalton McGuinty: he recently wrote a letter to the prime minister urging Stephen Harper to resolve the dispute. No evidence exists that I can find that Ontario’s premier has called on the other side to stop linking landing rights in Toronto to use of Camp Mirage, which was supporting our efforts in Afghanistan. But McGuinty is desperate for votes—enough said.
Did we dare expect a more even-handed or Canada-first approach from Bob Rae or Scott Brison? Apparently not.
According to the Toronto Star, Brison tells us that Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the U.A.E.’s minister of foreign affairs, made plain his displeasure at the diplomatic spat between his Gulf state and Canada. Well bully for him. But get this: according to the Star-Brison report, Al Nahyan is “very upset and he’s very hurt by this [Canadian] government, but it does not represent an animosity toward Canada.”
If what the U.A.E. has done to us so far does not represent animosity, I’d hate to see what does.
Canada is only one of several countries, including Korea, France and Germany that have serious reservations about giving the U.E.A.’s airlines expanded landing rights. This issue goes much deeper than Brison, Rae, McGuinty, et al, would have us believe. Here are some of the things European Airlines Secretary General Ulrich Schulte-Strathaus had to say about the issue recently in Washington (source: Air Transport World):
“Emirates Airline, Qatar Airways and Etihad [Airways] represent a new kind of competitive threat that is incompatible with the existing world aviation order ….
“[the trio of Persian Gulf-based carriers] are owned by their respective governments and operated as an instrument of national strategy… and they are integrated vertically across commerce, tourism and foreign policy. The airlines are just a part—a tool—of this vertically integrated economic chain [which are] being driven by a policy which is not compatible with that of the US and Europe, or I suspect, Australia, China, Japan, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Chile, Korea and so on.
“[the three] have more widebody seats on order than the entire US industry has in its current fleet … 425 brand new long-haul aircraft in the next five years.”
Powerful self-interests are at work here.
The need to protect our national interests seem to have convinced Prime Minister Stephen Harper to resist the Emirates’ request for more landing rights, which would see Canada’s long-haul aviation market being flooded, as the U.A.E.’s airlines apparently have done in Australia, New Zealand and Britain.
Why are all these Liberals lining up on the side of the Emirates? What’s their game? Why have so many senior Liberals chosen to lobby so hard on behalf of this file. And why can they not see that Canada’s national interests are at odds with those of the U.A.E.?