Canada’s not-so-open skies

An unusual thing occurred in Canada a couple of weeks ago. The top politicians of Canada’s three western provinces – British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan – penned an editorial in the country’s national Globe & Mail newspaper calling for ‘open skies’. The editorial was timed to coincide with a gathering of business interests, government officials […]


An unusual thing occurred in Canada a couple of weeks ago. The top politicians of Canada’s three western provinces – British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan – penned an editorial in the country’s national Globe & Mail newspaper calling for ‘open skies’. The editorial was timed to coincide with a gathering of business interests, government officials and politicians at the 2009 British Columbia International Open Skies Summit.

Now while it may seem like a ‘no-brainer’ – particularly from an Asian perspective – to want to create freer air passenger and cargo traffic through Canada’s skies, the situation is of course, more complicated. Beholden to unions, outdated ideologies, parochial regionalism, or wrapped up in self-absorbed petty interests; the greater good has often gotten chucked out with the bathwater by politicians.

As the three Premiers note, Western Canada sits at a unique global crossroads as the closest link between North America and the rapidly growing economies of Asia.

The realisation of that fact translated a few years back to a number of initiatives, largely encapsulated in the Pacific Gateway Strategy.

The result was a long overdue upgrading of seaports, airports, highways, railways, border crossings and so on, along with a marketing campaign, all with the aim of capturing a bigger slice of the thriving transpacific trade lane.