International aviation agency will not leave Montreal

The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) will remain headquartered in Montreal. A push by Qatar to have the UN agency, the only one with headquarters in Canada, relocate to Doha from Montreal has been suspended. This comes as the result of a lot of work and “intense” lobbying by three levels of government, according to the federal industry minister, Christian Paradis.

Three levels of government—Montreal, Quebec and Ottawa—lobbied more than 100 member states to keep the International Civil Aviation Organization in its Montreal headquarters. The UN agency has been there since inception in 1947.

The ICAO regulates international aviation transport. It has been based in Montreal since its inception in1947. The government of Qatar proposed that the agency move to its main city, Doha, and offered rich financial incentives to sweeten the deal. However, the offer and the proposal were withdrawn on Friday, May 24. No reason was given.

Minister Paradis told reporters that the city of Montreal, the government of Quebec and the federal government had lobbied one hundred countries for their support in keeping the agency in Montreal. He credited the “level of expertise” that has been built up over the years in Montreal, plus the support of “a number” of countries that they had lobbied. The United States was one of the countries that indicated it would not support the move.

The presence of the UN agency is estimated to be worth about $120 million in economic benefits to Montreal annually and to the Canadian aviation industry. More than 500 staff are employed at the agency, and it support an additional 1,200 direct and indirect jobs, according to the Montreal Gazette.

Prime Minister Harper said at the time the Qatari bid was first revealed that Montreal was a “hub of the aerospace industry around the world,” and that there was “no reasonable case” for moving it.

Had the Qatari bid not been revoked, a vote would have been held in September. The motion to move the ICAO would have required the votes of at least 60 per cent of the 191 member states.

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