x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

UAE and Canada are 'cooling off'

Canada and the UAE need to take a step back and restore calm for the sake of trade, an Ontario minister said.

DUBAI // Canada and the UAE need to take a step back and restore calm for the sake of trade, an Ontario minister said yesterday.

Sandra Pupatello, Ontario's minister of economic development and trade, said: "Right now, we are in a bit of a cooling-off period so that we can step away and take a renewed look at how we can find a middle ground on this issue. That is what I think we need to do."

The Canadian provincial minister is in the UAE heading a delegation of 35 companies to the Arab Health Exhibition and Congress.

"We have taken a very aggressive approach to state our case to the United Arab Emirates that we are very interested in being a part of the growth in health care," said Ms Pupatello.

She said she was hopeful the strained relations between the two countries could soon be sorted out, as there was "a lot of ancillary impact that is not recognisable yet".

"International relations are a federal responsibility, and so you can imagine that every province is really pushing our federal government to do its job on that front."

Canada was recently asked to leave the UAE military base Camp Mirage, which was being used to support war efforts in Afghanistan. The move was seen by some as retaliation for Canada's refusal to give additional landing rights to UAE airlines.

Earlier this month, rules came into effect requiring Canadians to pay a fee for visiting the Emirates, cancelling their on-arrival visa rights.

"Canadians have a very strong brand: we are nation builders, we are the ones that lead the UN, we go and resolve things in different parts of the world … So it is very unusual for us to be embroiled in something like this, because traditionally our role is very different," said Ms Pupatello. "I think that behoves us to bring a calmer mind to the table."

Canada's former prime minister, Jean Chretien, who led a Liberal government from 1993 to 2003, also voiced strong opposition to the way Stephen Harper's government had managed the problem. Mr Chretien, who is currently visiting Saudi Arabia, said he had never faced any problems with countries in this region when he was prime minister.

While in the UAE, Ms Pupatello has met with Dr Hanif Hassan Ali, the UAE Minister of Health, and Qadhi Saeed al Murooshid, the director general of the Dubai Health Authority.

"We discussed co-operation between both sides in various health-related areas," said Dr Salem al Darmaki, the acting director general at the Ministry of Health.

"There is no doubt that there is a presence of Canadian expertise in both the private and public healthcare systems in the UAE, and there is potential for partnerships," said Dr al Darmaki.

Ms Pupatello stressed that Canada and the UAE have had a long-standing relationship in many areas.

"Some of our companies have been here for 30 years doing work. When you have that long a relationship, sometimes you can get mad at each other.

"But even so, you still take a minute and then you come back to the table," she said.

"I think from both perspectives we want to say we are too important to each other - let's work this out and if we both bring that kind of attitude to the table, I am convinced that there is resolution to this."

 

balqabbani@thenational.ae

 

Also see:

Confused and saddened by UAE-Canada rift

UAE shows new assertiveness in tussle with Canada

Angry words fly as Emirates eyes Canada