As a young student at McGill University in Montreal, Martial Pagé would look across the street at the then headquarters of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and dream of working for an international organization like ICAO one day.
In 2017, that dream came true when he was named Permanent Representative to the Canadian Mission to ICAO. It’s the only diplomatic posting within Canada and the career diplomat is aware of just how fortunate he is that the stars aligned at just the right time.
“We have such a fantastic privilege of hosting a United Nations organization in Canada,” says Pagé. “Only 10 countries in the world are hosting a UN headquarters. The economic impact is incredible. Thousands come to Montreal every year for meetings and conferences. And several other international organizations are here because of ICAO, making Montreal the civil aviation capital of the world.”
ICAO was created in 1944, just as aviation was becoming more mainstream, to promote the safe and orderly development of civil aviation throughout the world. It sets standards and regulations and develops guidance material touching on a number of important aspects of the global aviation sector, including safety, security, sustainable economic growth and environmental standards.
“Canada plays a dual role as both a member state and the proud host state,” says Pagé.
Being the host state means that Pagé and his team of Transport Canada employees deployed to the mission work very closely with the ICAO Secretariat, the Province of Quebec and the City of Montreal to support the diplomatic community, so that ICAO can continue to thrive in Montreal.
As a member state, Canada supports the important work of ICAO through the 36-member ICAO Governing Council. “To be an influential member of the governance structure is very rewarding,” says Pagé, who chairs the Council Committee on Unlawful Interference, which deals with aviation security, and sits on several others.
Pagé is especially pleased that, in 2017, Transport Canada employee Capt. Claude Hurley was elected as the President of the Air Navigation Commission. “It’s the most senior position Canada has ever held at ICAO,” he notes.
As ICAO celebrates its 75th year in 2019, Pagé looks forward to supporting ICAO as they prepare to host their 40th Assembly in Montreal in the fall. He also plans to continue to raise the profile of ICAO in Montreal and Canada. He says it will also benefit the promotion of careers in aviation, particularly to underrepresented groups, an issue Pagé, the Government of Canada and ICAO all see as a top priority for the coming years.