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Qatar wants agency

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.

The Qataris made a formal pitch to the organization in April, reportedly offering a brand-new building for the organization and a promise to cover all the costs associated with the move.

Now Canada is preparing a counterattack.

"(Foreign Affairs) Minister (John) Baird will fight tooth and nail to keep ICAO in its rightful home of Montreal," spokesman Rick Roth said in an email Thursday.

Canada has played host to the body, which sets international standards for civil aviation, since 1946.

The Qatari offer comes as Canada and the ICAO are negotiating for a new lease on the Montreal headquarters, built at a cost of $100 million in the 1990s.

Though the organization didn't go looking for a new host, it is obliged to consider Qatar's bid under the organization's rules.

A vote is set for this fall.

The result of that vote has both economic and political implications for Canada.

There are 534 staff employed at the organization's headquarters and the agency claims to generate some $80 million annually for Montreal's economy and 1,200 direct and indirect jobs.

For Qatar's bid to prevail, a minimum of 60 per cent of the ICAO's 191 member states must sign off.

There are concerns a decision by UN states to remove an agency from Canada will be seen as punishment for the Conservative government's broader policy stance on the Middle East.

Baird irritated many in the Arab world last month when, while on a visit to the Middle East, he met Israel's foreign minister at a coffee shop in East Jerusalem, which the Palestinians and the UN consider occupied land.

Match solves mystery

SASKATOON -- Police say a matchstick has helped them resolve the 50-year-old cold case of a man murdered at the Saskatoon Golf and Country Club.

Investigators believe a 17-year-old youth shot and killed golf-course worker Richard Hartz in 1963 during a robbery.

But the suspect, whose name is not being released, can't be charged because he died in 2009.

Police say advanced technology showed matchsticks found on the golf course came from a matchbook in a stolen truck the teen used in a different robbery.

The teen was the leading suspect at the time, but there was no arrest despite an investigation involving hundreds of witnesses and interviews.

Ontario budget orange

TORONTO -- In a last-ditch bid to stay alive and avoid an election, Ontario's minority Liberals revealed a $127.6-billion budget Thursday awash in NDP orange along with the red ink.

Ticking off every demand the New Democrats put on their long list -- from giving motorists a break on their insurance to delaying and eliminating some corporate tax breaks -- the Liberals have thrown down the gauntlet and put the party that holds the balance of power between a rock and a hard place.

The New Democrats have a choice: prop up a government hungry for their left-leaning supporters, or defeat the budget that they helped craft and force an election just 19 months after the last one.

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 3, 2013 A14

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