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Tue 25 Jan 2011 12:13 PM

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Canada’s Harper under fire from ex-PM over UAE spat

Former PM Jean Chrétien says political row has not been well-managed, calls for quick resolution

Canada’s Harper under fire from ex-PM over UAE spat
Former Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien
Canada’s Harper under fire from ex-PM over UAE spat
Former Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien
Canada’s Harper under fire from ex-PM over UAE spat
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper

Prime
Minister Stephen Harper has come under fire from ex-Canadian premier Jean
Chrétien for failing to rein in the ongoing diplomatic feud between Ottawa and the UAE.

Jean
Chrétien, who was prime minister of Canada from November 1993 to December 2003,
said a quick solution was needed to defuse the row in light of the UAE’s
strategic importance.

"I
think this problem has not been well managed," Chrétien told Arabian Business
on the sideline of a conference in Riyadh.

“I
hope they will resolve the difficulty because we need good relations with this
part of the world.”

Relations
between the oil-rich UAE and Canada have deteriorated rapidly since November,
when Canada’s transport agency refused to give Gulf carriers Etihad and
Emirates fresh landing rights.

The
UAE had been requesting new rights for six years.

The Arab country retaliated with the closure of Camp Mirage,
a secret military base located outside Dubai and used to supply Canadian troops
in Afghanistan.

The political feud took a new turn in December, when the UAE
Embassy announced Canadian citizens would no longer receive free visas.
Instead, tourists must now pay up to $1,000 Canadian dollars for visas.

Earlier this month, Canada’s opposition foreign affairs
spokesman Bob Rae said Ottawa had been guilty of ‘diplomatic bumbling’ and had
put a $2bn bilateral trade relationship at risk.

Earlier
this month, Prime Minister Stephen Harper accused the UAE of leveraging the War
on Terror to push its own domestic aviation interests.

“That’s
just not how you treat allies, and I think tells us you better pick your
friends pretty carefully in the future,” Harper said, in reference to the
closure of Camp Mirage.

Chrétien
said Canada had always maintained good relations with its Gulf allies.

“I
never had any problems when I was prime minister with the countries here. I
never had, in the ten years I was there, had that type of problem without
finding a solution,” he said.

 

SA 8 years ago



This issue will do no good to any of the involved parties.

bocanut 8 years ago

"I think this problem has not been well managed,"
The same could be said about Adscam.

Michael Behiels 8 years ago

Canada's Prime Minister Harper, in an outburst of misguided and foolish rage fas seriously damaged Canada's foreign and defense relations with the UAE and many other Arab countless.

PM Harper put his Conservative Party and his determination to win a majority government ahead of Canada's international interests. Harper's close connections with the privatized Air Canada corporation has allowed protectionism to rear it's ugly head. Harper showed the same protectionist leanings when he stopped BHP Billington, an Australian company from buying a Saskatchewan Potash corporation.
PM Harper pleads with the G20 and G8 Leaders to reject protectionism but then turns around and does just the opposite.
Harper's refusal to allow UAE airlines more flights into Canada has cost Canadian taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars and made Canada look like a bully in the eyes of the world.

AK 8 years ago

The only time Jean Chretien knew enough to hold his comments was during the scandals in his administration, namely, Adscam, and Shawinigate.

All other times, as a former Prime Minster, he comments inappropriately at will.

gg 8 years ago

Canada did not refuse to renew landing rights for the UAE airlines. It simply refused to expand those landing rights as demanded by the UAE. In response, the UAE closed the Canadian military base in the UAE, charged fees for Canadians entering the country, and refused entry into UAE airspace to a Canadian aircraft carrying government officials.
Canada determines who will fly into it's airports- not some country like UAE. Canada doesn't need the UAE. We don't need it's oil, it's money or anything else. In response to the UAE actions, Canada should cancel all landing rights into Canada, and not allow any UAE aircraft entry into Canadian airspace.

igm 8 years ago

It's so pathetic that Canadian right-wingers are coming over here to tar Chretien with the Adscam brush. Here was a Prime Minister who inherited a $35 billion deficit from Conservatives in 1993, then left office with multibillion-dollar surpluses. If he was a Conservative, they'd worship him like a saint and forgive him all his trespasses.

Chretien was in parliament for four decades in a variety of portfolios, ultimately serving as Prime Minister for nearly a decade. I wouldn't ignore or dismiss him.

There is indeed a significant trade and diplomacy conflict here between Canada and the UAE. The UAE's move to impose costly visas on Canadian travellers alienates precisely those Canadians that they want to attract--the businessmen and tourists that they want to ride on those big A380s of theirs.

Both Canada and the UAE have made a hash of this. I hope they wise up and stop jeopardizing trade, travel, and notably our mission in Afghanistan.

Micko 8 years ago

As a Canadian who travels a lot to the Gulf Countries, I used to be just as competitive as any of the 31 other country citizens who used and still continue to travel and receive their visa free of charge on arrival to the UAE.

Unfortunately thanks to Harper's foolish decisions and cowboy style of doing business, I am forced to travel on Emirates or Eithad as they provide the visa within 2 to 4 working days and at a reasonable visa fees, however I can't travel for short business trips within the Gulf countries as before because of the visa rules.

It took Canada and Chrétien's government several years of developing and maintaining excellent relationships with the UAE and other Gulf Countries and Harper destroyed everything within 2 months with is anti-business decisions and lack of diplomacy.

cornell 8 years ago

Exactement, AK. You are so right.

Maps Onburt 8 years ago

What close connections? Air Canada is owned by no other company... in fact its illegal for any entity to own more than 10%.

jmw 8 years ago

Sorry Michael,
Most informed Canadians won't agree with you. It is the UAE who is the bully in this situation. When Canada offered further landing opportunities in Calgary and Vancouver, the UAE turned them down--they only want Toronto.
Economically the UAE needs us more than we need them. Harper is protecting Canadian interests from the gov't subsidized flights out of UAE --that's his job.