Amman local government ended a funding arrangement with Canada’s Department of Foreign Affairs in June, in a decision that the Canadian embassy said was ‘based on principles’
While Canada sent hundreds of millions in aid to Jordan, its king grew his collection of luxury homes
The Municipality of Amman informed Ottawa that it would end a funding arrangement with Canada’s Department of Foreign Affairs in June, in a decision that the Canadian embassy in Jordan said was “based on principles”.
The Guardian first reported last week that Canadian tax dollars had been used by the Jordanian royal family to purchase several new luxury apartments in the Old City, including several apartments sold to a woman on the verge of bankruptcy.
The high-end housing purchases were considered a violation of a decades-old treaty signed between the two countries, which commits Ottawa to a 100% match for every Jordanian dollar Ottawa spends on international development.
Amman … offers six of Canada’s luxury condo developments, each of which costs $7m or more, including an exclusive apartment building featuring $1,000-a-day concierge service and a 21-storey ballroom.
“We worked with a range of sources to find consensus on the policy option presented and formed our decision based on principles,” said Marie de Vaux, a spokeswoman for the Canadian embassy in Amman.
The decision did not come as a shock to many in Amman, who said that with the economic situation in Jordan still fragile, the Canadian government had chosen an unpopular course of action with a volatile but important partner.
“This is like shooting the company’s logo in the bull’s-eye,” said Ahmad Ali Issa, the head of Jordan’s Amman municipality. “If Jordan stops receiving Canadian aid then Canada won’t be able to stay, because without Jordan it’s impossible for us to operate effectively.”
On Wednesday, Jordan’s foreign ministry called on the Canadian government to suspend all aid provided to the kingdom, saying Ottawa had “diverted funds intended for people’s needs into personal gains, with huge financial packages and hundreds of millions of dollars of investments in high-end real estate”.
The announcement drew swift condemnation from the left, who have called for Ottawa to pull the plug on the entire foreign aid program. The progressive group the ACT Foundation, which runs several Canadian campaign groups, recommended Ottawa “end aid to every state that defrauds its citizens and funds luxury buildings for known criminals, ranging from Canadian politicians to major Middle Eastern dictators”.
While the rupture is unlikely to have an immediate impact on the kingdom’s overall aid budget, officials say it will amount to some losing an important source of funding. “Jordan was planning to reduce its relationship with Ottawa in 2019 in any case,” Issa said. “So it is not our decision.”