For the past sixty or so years, Canada has been on the United Nations Security Council a total of six times, about once a decade. Every time they have been up for nomination they have been elected to a high profile, high power position on the fifteen member council. That is, until this past Tuesday when they were beat out by Portugal for the last remaining seat.
Instead of seeking a better understanding as to why The Harper Government failed to grab a seat for the first time since the UN’s inception, Canadian Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon decided to place the blame solely on the back of Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff.
“This is a government that for four years has basically ignored the United Nations and now is suddenly showing up saying, ‘Hey, put us on the council,'” Ignatieff said last month, “Don’t mistake me. I know how important it is for Canada to get a seat on the Security Council, but Canadians have to ask a tough question: Has this government earned that place? We’re not convinced it has.”
I’m no fan of Mr. Ignatieff, but he’s no more responsible for losing this seat than I am for JFK’s assassination. Since when does the 191 member UN listen to the ramblings of an unheard of opposition leader over the actual Government of Canada? And if they did listen to Ignatieff instead, what does that say about the Harper government?
Fact is Ignatieff was correct in questioning Canada’s earning of the position. In the four years of Conservative rule, what have they done? Let’s seeâ€¦ They have abandoned the Kyoto Protocol, cut bilateral aid to several developing countries throughout Africa, Latin America, and Asia (limiting assistance to just 20 countries). They have taken soldiers away from peace keeping missions, a roll Canada used to be identified with and put them toward the Afghan Mission (a NATO mission) and let’s not forget Harper’s unabashed support for Israel in the Middle East.
“I do not in any way see this as a repudiation of Canada’s foreign policy,” Lawrence Cannon said, “The principles underlying our foreign policy, such as freedom, democracy, respect for human rights and the rule of law, were the basis of all our decisions.” Big dealâ€¦ this day in age most countries around the world share those same principals including Canada’s competition for the council membership, Germany and Portugal.
Simply stating our moral fiber is the basis for our decisions does not make them the right decisions. African ambassadors for instance, pointed to a series of Canadian positions on African debt relief to the Conservative government cutting funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency and accusing it of having terrorist links.
Council members are supposed to be chosen on the basis of their contributions to international peace and security, Afghanistan alone simply doesn’t cut it. Under Stephen Harper’s watch Canada has lost its standing in the world and there are no signs of it returning.
The Harper Government, just like the former Bush Administration seems to have a problem when it comes to accepting responsibility for failure, instead choosing to shift the blame elsewhere or flat out denying there is a problem in the first place. This kind of politicking makes the politicians look like kids and tries to make fools of ordinary Canadians.
“Don’t play this blame-game stuff with Canadians. It’s an insult to their intelligence.”
Wowâ€¦ Ignatieff was right twice!