Address by the Honourable Lisa Raitt, Minister of Transport, on Behalf of Minister Baird to 38th Session of International Civil Aviation Organization Assembly

September 24, 2013 - Montréal, Quebec

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Mr. President, Mr. Secretary General.

Madam Premier, Mr. Mayor.

Ministers of transport, heads of delegations, friends and distinguished guests.

On behalf of the Government of Canada, I am truly delighted to welcome you to Montréal, one of the world’s great cities and the natural home of this important institution.

Sixty-nine years ago, in 1944, ICAO [International Civil Aviation Organization] was founded to promote the safe and orderly development of international civil aviation throughout the world. The founding members, which included Canada, pledged their commitment to the idea that, through the development of civil aviation and the benefits that development would bring, ICAO could be a key driving force to “preserve friendship and understanding among the nations and peoples of the world.”

Anyone who has benefited from aviation has benefited from the global collaboration, the sharing of ideas and the innovations in policy and regulation that take place in this city and this building, as well as from the industries and businesses who have made their homes in Montréal.

Friends, we all know that important decisions and deliberations will take place at this triennial assembly over the next two weeks.

For much of ICAO’s history, civil aviation has played an important role supporting the global economy. When the aviation industry suffers, often we also see the same for the global economy.

And close to seven decades after its founding members came together to build this organization, ICAO continues to carry out its work efficiently and effectively. 

Because of ICAO, air travel is more safe and more convenient.

Because of ICAO, air travel is less vulnerable to terrorism and more secure. 

And because of ICAO, the air industry generates more jobs and more economic benefits for communities, regions and national governments.

That is why Canada strongly supports a strong, relevant, efficient and effective ICAO.

It is why we have such a productive partnership with the organization.

And it is why today, our commitment to this important body is stronger than ever.

Canada and ICAO

As you all know, since ICAO’s creation as a permanent institution in 1947, Canada, Quebec and the world-class city of Montréal have been so very proud to host this organization.

This year has been a particularly important one for this relationship. As you all know, this past May the Government of Canada and ICAO signed a new Supplementary Headquarters Agreement that will keep ICAO’s headquarters in Montréal, ICAO’s natural home, for an additional 20 years beyond 2016. I am pleased to advise you all that Canada has completed the regulatory process to ratify this agreement. Canada recently contributed $1.4 million to modernize ICAO conference facilities and enhanced and expedited the services we and our partners offer ICAO representatives. This kind of effort by all three levels of government as Team Montréal shows what we as Canadians can do when we put our minds to it.

Let me just say how very proud we are to work hand in hand with ICAO and to be host to this great organization.

Beyond the institutional arrangements that benefit ICAO, permanent delegations and staff, Montréal offers an unparalleled quality of life. It also provides access to numerous international organizations, research and educational institutions and businesses that are located here, as well as a thriving aeronautical industry, much of which has located here because of ICAO’s presence in this city. We are grateful that the international community has recognized the advantages that Montréal offers to ICAO.

Canada will also increase its support to the organization over the coming year by setting up a dedicated liaison function to assist with the settlement and integration of international delegates, staff and their families.

Agenda for the 38th Assembly

The agenda for this 38th Assembly is ambitious and, in some areas, challenging, particularly the question of aviation emissions. 

ICAO needs to maintain the momentum, coming out of the High-Level Conference on Aviation Security, the [12th] Air Navigation Conference and the [Sixth Worldwide] Air Transport Conference, in order to continuously improve standards, recommended practices and guidance material on the safety, security and economic fronts. Canada believes that ICAO must continue to play its crucial role in these areas.

The Future

Aviation as we know it today exists because of innovation, and the world we live in today owes many of its defining characteristics to aviation. Aviation and our global economy and society have evolved in ways that no one could have predicted. ICAO’s challenge is to drive innovation in aviation that will meet demands and expectations we can hardly fathom. The challenge is to build on the enduring idea that by coming together as nations, sharing ideas, debating and arriving at compromise and consensus, we can ensure aviation maintains its enviable safety record and grows to benefit all of our citizens.

Many of the issues on this, the 38th Assembly’s agenda, are not easy. Innovation rarely is. I strongly encourage the member nations of ICAO to live up to the founding ideals of aviation in the deliberations ahead. We must all strive to improve the already high standards in safety and security and to improve the economic viability of our sector in these challenging global economic times.


Ladies and gentlemen, our modern world relies on a safe, secure and efficient international civil aviation system. This goal motivated the founding members of ICAO and must inspire us today so that civil aviation can continue its important role in the world now and in the future.

Again, I am honoured to welcome you all and to salute ICAO as it continues its important work in global aviation.

I wish you all a productive assembly and hope you enjoy your time here in Montréal.

Thank you.