View From the Hill by Keith Beardsley – PM Speaks on UAE Dispute – January 9, 2011

Ottawa ON – Finally the Conservatives have come up with some decent talk points on the UAE dispute. For the past three months their standard pushback has been that they were defending Air Canada by not granting additional landing slots to Emirates Airlines.

Frankly, I doubt too many Canadians give a hoot about protecting Air Canada and I suspect most of us would prefer the freedom to choose what airline we fly if we are going to the UAE or transiting through that region. Those talk points never cut it and let’s face it once you get out of the Ottawa bubble, how many Canadians are even following this issue.

The Prime Minister’s comments today according to QMI agency were “I could never see [Canada] treating an ally like that. Could you imagine after 9/11 if the Americans had come to the Canadian government and said, ‘We need help on something to do with security’ [and we said] ‘Well, only if you do something on Buy America.’ I mean, give me a break.”

With the Prime Minister changing the tone to make this one of how you treat your allies, it shifts the story line to where it should be. Is this how the UAE treats its allies? If so, then quite a few other allies should be taking a second look at their relationship with the UAE.

This line of reasoning will make more sense to Canadians. But give me a break, why did it take three months to make the switch and why didn’t PMO communications realize this back in October?

Keith Beardsley is a senior strategist for True North Public Affairs in Ottawa, as well as a blogger and political analyst. He can often be found running or cycling on his favorite bike trails.

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  1. Emirates Airlines should have their landing rights restricted in North America because of their actions recently. Why can’t we show these people that we are not going to take s**t from them anymore! Landing rights are a privilege and the UAR has done nothing to deserve more. Remove those rights and see where they go next.

  2. Sad to say, but if the UAE decided to stop selling oil to us, we’d be scrambling to find another supplier, and gas prices would shoot up to $1.50 in eastern Canada over night. None of the”cheap” dirty Alberta oil gets piped here, so we’re pretty much stuck with world market prices. We could threaten to stop shipments of Ontario McIntosh apples to the UAR in retaliation, but I doubt they’d be shaking in their boots over that.

  3. Strange that noone complains about the Air Canada protection, despite its merger with Canadian years back its still lousy service and unprofitable, with the canadian government protecting STAR alliance and its lufthansa deal ,as we all know STAR carries canadian travellers via its european hubs to asian destinations, look at SWISS how many canadian travellers go to Switzerland , than SWISS should have only 2 flights a week(easy calculation). So guess protectionism ..look at home first before throwing stones at others. patrick

  4. Patrick, the protection is deeply engrained for Air Canada. They must keep the headquarters in Montreal, they must provide bilingual service and I would imagine other items that increase the cost to end users.

  5. Year-end bonuses come to mind…

  6. Missing from this discussion is our PM’s ignorance–at times uncaring ignorance (e.g. preferring Tim Hortons to attending the UN, and turning his back on Africa)–of international cultures and affairs. Sadly, in cases such as the above, we are witnessing the consequences of being “led” by the man who wanted to build a firewall around Alberta and who had never travelled outside Canada before he became PM of Canada. The consequences? Canada’s steady decline in the eyes of the world.

  7. Author

    PJR I hear the Crullers are better at Timmies than at the UN…..For coffee you have to go with Coffey’s Coffee!

  8. No doubt, no doubt. So why didn’t Harper lobby for Timmies at the UN?

  9. Im no fan of defending Air Canada but I do believe the UAE took a wrong tack by using threats to obtain landing rights. I do hope the government can find common ground with the UAE and resolve things, I like Emerites I’ve flown with them, the service is great and they dont even lose your bags. I dont believe in protecting an uncompetitive airline I thought we were past that. As for some of the other comments I still think we have the best government one could hope for in a minority I’ve yet to see any sign of a credible alternative.

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