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Cablegate: Canadian Officials Suggest That Minister Lapierre's

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS OTTAWA 001105

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

STATE FOR WHA/CAN (HOLST, WHEELER), EB/TRA (BYERLY)

STATE PASS USTR FOR SAGE CHANDLER

TRANSPORTATION FOR OST/IA (EDDIE CARAZO AND SUSAN MCDERMOTT)

COMMERCE FOR 4320/MAC/WH/ONIA/WORD

FAA FOR KRISTA BERQUIST

DHS/TSA FOR SUSAN WILLIAMS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAIR ECIN EINV CA
SUBJECT: CANADIAN OFFICIALS SUGGEST THAT MINISTER LAPIERRE'S
WISH FOR PUBLIC DEBATE ON AIR LIBERALIZATION AND QUEBEC
SCANDAL HAVE SLOWED MOVEMENT TOWARD OPEN SKIES DISCUSSIONS

REF: E-mail Byerly - Gallagher April 8, 2005

SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED--PLEASE PROTECT ACCORDINGLY. NOT
FOR INTERNET DISTRIBUTION.

1. (SBU) Emboffs met on April 6 with Chief of Staff to
Minister of Transport Jean Lapierre, Leslie Swartman, and
Lapierre's Senior Policy Advisor, Paul Stothart, to discuss
the Government of Canada's (GOC) slow steps toward air
liberalization discussions. When Lapierre and Secretary of
Transportation Mineta met in Ottawa at the end of February,
they had announced that they were about to embark on
"exploratory discussions" regarding a more liberal aviation
agreement. (Comment: Secretary Mineta had gone so far as
to suggest that a bilateral Open Skies agreement would be an
important step toward realizing the "vision of NAFTA" in
aviation. Minister Lapierre had stated that the "window of
opportunity to move ahead is now open." End comment.)

2. (SBU) Emboffs observed that almost seven weeks later,
with both the Minister and the Secretary seemingly having
been keen on moving forward, it is surprising that the GOC
has not yet moved to engage in exploratory discussions.
Swartman and Stothart initially explained that Transport
Canada officials (including themselves, who are both new to
their jobs) "needed more time to understand the issues" that
are to be discussed. They then indicated that Minister
Lapierre, who is also the Prime Minister's chief lieutenant
for Quebec politics, is engaged with the revelations of
putative Liberal party corruption in Quebec that threatens
to bring the government down. Accordingly, air
liberalization has taken a back seat to the scandal
investigation. The Minister is not pushing his officials to
commence discussions now on a potentially politically
sensitive file, although, they added, his clear preference,
as articulated in speeches and during his meeting with
Secretary Mineta, is to begin discussions.

SIPDIS

3. (SBU) Swartman and Stothart also noted that, with respect
to the study now being undertaken by the House of Commons
Standing Committee on Transportation, the Minister does
indeed feel obliged to let the Committee do its work before
he gets Transport involved in meeting stakeholders and
developing a GOC agenda, which confirms Kris Burr's message
to U/S Shane (ref B). Furthermore, Swartman and Stothart
provided the same timeline of being ready to start official-
to-official meetings in late August, with a preferred date
to announce this effort being September 19 in Toronto at the
ACI conference.

4. (SBU) On April 8 Emboffs met with Cliff Mackay, CEO of
the Air Transport Association of Canada (ATAC). Mackay
provided the same opinion as Swartman, Stothart, and Burr
with respect to the Committee deliberations having forced a
slowdown in getting the discussions underway. Minister
Lapierre had expected the Transportation Committee to lead
nationwide public debate on liberalization. In addition,
Mackay told us that domestic cargo carriers remain adamantly
opposed to liberalization. In the current volatile
political climate, even starting low-level exploratory talks
would be courting additional political dangers for the
government that it clearly doesn't want right now.
According to Mackay, the small Canadian cargo carriers
believe that pilots' unions scope clauses will not allow
these small cargo operators to effectively link up with big
U.S. cargo carriers. On the other hand, Mackay observed
that the Transport Canada bureaucracy as a whole is not
"pushing back" on the Minister's liberalization agenda,
something that could not have been taken for granted a few
years ago.

Dickson

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