Canadians are up in arms today that Portugal edged out Canada for a temporary seat on the United Nations Security Council. Politics was no doubt at play, and it seems that a dispute between Canadian and UAE authorities over landing rights for Emirates and Etihad at Canadian airports may have played a primary role in Canada’s snub.
Bob Rae, a MP from Toronto, blamed the Harper government, saying Canada lost its bid for the seat because Canada has "snubbed China, cut aid to some African countries, froze its entire aid budget for years to come and has shown ‘a complete abnegation’ on climate-change policy."
I question that analysis, but even if true, that’s only part of the story. A UAE official told the AP that Gulf countries lobbied against Canada because Canada has refused to open more landing slots to Gulf airlines and because of Canada’s support for Israel (with the landing rights being the more egregious offense).
The protectionist spat between the UAE and Canada centers around whether more flights to the Gulf are needed. Air Canada argues that there is "no need for more flights" and that increased demand can be handled by AC and its codeshare partners.
That logic doesn’t persuade me. My thoughts are that Canada should let Etihad and Emirates add flights if it won’t overburden the airports like YVR, YOW, and YYZ. It’s not like EK is asking to fly within Canada and continued access to Camp Mirage military base in the United Arab Emirates is worth the possible ramifications of increased foreign competition in Canada.
Nevertheless, I think the Wall Street Journal editorial page today said it best:
Canada has avoided the worst of the global recession and emerged with a vibrant banking system and strong currency (now trading near parity to the U.S. dollar). The courage of its soldiers in Afghanistan, and in other missions, is testament to a nation that honors its commitments. Canadians should wear the U.N. snub as a badge of honor.