There once was a healthy relationship, steadily going strong. But it turned sour. Now there's constant sniping. The bad blood has already cost Canadian taxpayers at least $300 million. An annual trade of $1.5 billion is also at risk. So are the fortunes of the 200 Canadian companies with offices in the United Arab Emirates, Canada's largest trading partner in the Middle East and North Africa.
The penalties come courtesy of Stephen Harper. He wouldn't allow Emirates and Etihad Airways to increase flights to Canada, ostensibly to protect Air Canada.
But I have a 2006 document in which Air Canada proposed a partnership with Emirates. It called for a coordinated schedule between Canada and Dubai, starting with a daily Dubai-Toronto flight and expanding to other cities. It asked Emirates to operate its own aircraft on the routes. It even suggested flight times to maximize connections with Air Canada.
But Air Canada demanded 50 per cent of the profits, having made minimal investment and taken little or no risk.
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