Jordan is the pick of Parliament -

Jordan is the pick of Parliament

Canadian MPs disagree about a lot, but they agreed on free trade with Jordan


Sean Kilpatrick/CP

“Your leadership (in) standing by Jordan and the challenges that we have been facing is something that I continue to commend. I know, as brothers, we will be able to move forward and overcome these challenges.” —Jordan’s King Abdullah II, to Prime Minister Stephen Harper

The House of Commons usually finds a way to disagree about whatever’s on the table. Unanimity isn’t impossible, but it’s rare. When it comes to the Israel-Palestinian struggle, Conservatives and New Democrats and Liberals all agree that a two-state solution is in the region’s best interests, but they fundamentally disagree about how to achieve that peace. We heard a lot about that this week.

But there’s one area of Middle Eastern common ground for Canada’s parliamentarians.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s last stop before heading home after a week overseas was in Amman, Jordan. There, Harper met King Abdullah II, the Jordanian monarch. They praised each other’s work to common ends: Abdullah II lauded Canada for standing with Jordan through tough times; Harper applauded Jordan’s moderate regime in a volatile region.

Canada committed $105 million to the Jordanians. In the face of a refugee crisis that’s brought thousands of school-aged children across the border from Syria, that money will alleviate stress on Jordan’s school system. That was the headline news. The Jordan Times led its coverage of the bilateral meetings with Abdullah II’s shout out to the Canada-Jordan Free Trade Agreement.

Trade negotiations launched in 2007, after the King visited Harper in Ottawa. Five years later, on June 4, 2012, NDP MP Don Davies stood to support the proposed free-trade agreement. Gerald Keddy, the parliamentary secretary to the international trade minister, recognized Davies’ endorsement of the bill. That decision, Keddy said, “took a leap of faith and some courage.” Less than a month later, the bill became law, and Canada and Jordan were free traders.

There you have it. Jordan brought together two men, Keddy and Davies, who love to disagree and even thrive on a bit of acrimony. Few people have accomplished that feat. Let there be more.


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