Canada to fight 'tooth and nail' for UN aviation agency to remain in Montreal

The Canadian Press

OTTAWA - Canada is ramping up its efforts to prevent Qatar from wresting away the only United Nations agency based in this country.

The Middle Eastern country is seeking to convince the UN to let it host the headquarters for the International Civil Aviation Organization, currently based in Montreal.

Personal phone calls to the Qatari prime minister from Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird are part of what Canadian officials call a tooth-and-nail fight to keep the organization in Canada.

The city of Montreal and the province are also involved in the battle, which some have suggested is being waged because of Canada's foreign policy in the Middle East.

But a spokesman for Baird bristled at the suggestion, saying the way Qatar has handled the bid shows they're not a suitable host for a UN organization.

Qatar made an unsolicited pitch to the ICAO earlier this month, reportedly offering to construct a brand new building and cover all the expenses for the move.

A vote of member states is set for this fall and a move to a new permanent seat could take effect in 2016, depending on the result of the vote.