Canada’s failure to obtain a seat on the UN’s Security Council rotation
Calumny! The UN votes against Canada
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It did not take long for the chattering classes of the left to blame Canada’s failure to obtain a seat on the UN’s Security Council rotation on the Harper government’s principled support of Israel. The tsk-tsks could be heard from the editorial rooms of newspapers to the halls of academe.
Even yesterday morning there were articles questioning whether International Trade Minister Van Loan’s call for closer trade ties with Israel could cost Canada a seat. We can only ask these commentators, “Have you no shame?” Those who criticize our government’s foreign policy seem to think that there is nothing wrong with the moral relativism implicit in treating with failed states and cultures on the same basis as we do with free nations. It is sad for them and sad for this country.
What is not sad is that we have a government that clearly and candidly sides with a democratic ally facing the same existential threat as all democracies. What is not sad is that the Harper government does not believe in political equivalency in treating with tyrannies, theocratic and otherwise. What is not sad is that this government puts principle above pandering. And for those who think that there is any moral high ground in the UN vote, they perpetuate a great calumny much to their discredit.
Council members are supposed to be chosen on the basis of their contributions to international peace and security. Though Germany, as expected, received one of the two remaining seats, Portugal’s election over Canada was a surprise though all three countries have served two-year terms on the Council in the past twelve years. Few countries in the world have made contributions - far above their weight – as Canada has. And the contributions this nation has made covered not only peacekeeping but a commitment to the UN sanctioned Afghanistan mission that has cost so many Canadian lives. In fact, just several days ago, Portugal declared that it would support Canada’s bid though it would not withdraw its own name from the list of five. The five non-permanent members of the council usually represent five different geographic areas. It is unusual to see Germany and Portugal, both European nations, elected in the same round. Austria, Japan, Mexico, Turkey and Uganda are the five non-permanent members being replaced in this round of votes. South Africa, India and Colombia won this year’s other three seats in uncontested selections.
Arab opposition to Canada’s membership was however only one factor in our defeat. Another was unity and solidarity. EU and EU-aspiring nations voted as a block for both Germany and Portugal. Canada –sadly – did not demonstrate even our own internal solidarity. In September Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff made the following statement, “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.’ 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.” Mr. Ignatieff knows better.
The fact that the Harper government - or any government - voices criticisms of the UN, should never disqualify it for membership in its various forums. Unless of course Mr. Ignatieff thinks that speech should be compromised in order to get along. The criticisms that the Harper government has voiced are far less visceral than the statements of the late American democrat and progressive Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan. He served as US Ambassador to the UN and called it “A dangerous place!” Furthermore, despite criticisms, Canada’s commitments to international humanitarian involvement, UN military missions and contributions to its international organizations continue at Canada’s historical levels. Finally Mr. Ignatieff surely understands that his statement is decidedly contradictory. It is not the government that takes the seat at the Security Council, it is the nation. It is not the Conservatives policies that Mr. Ignatieff undermined, it is Canadians purpose that he damaged.
Despite this vote, we as a people can continue to take pride in Stephen Harper’s foreign policy that since the Francophonie summit four years ago has sent a fresh Canadian message of clarity, candour and courage throughout the world. It has been and remains a bright, new dawn for this nation. It has burned off much of the stagnating smog that has been a protective cloak for the smug hypocrisies under which we conducted ourselves on the world stage for too long. Principled power is never preceded by conditional adjectives. It is a force to be used as a shield for the innocent and a staff of the just. It is not dependant on numbers. It is dependant only on energy and daring. The message of the Harper government is clear. We Canadians—who in two World Wars over the past century sacrificed more sons and daughters than even America in proportion to population to assure the survival and success of liberty – will never barter values to expediency. We will all be the better for it.