Canada paid the price yesterday for its principled foreign policy stance, especially for its support of Israel, when it lost its bid to Portugal for a non-permanent seat on the powerful United Nations Security Council. In an indication as to how much the world has changed, it was the first time since the world body’s inception in 1945 that Canada had not won a Security Council seat after having been elected in every previous decade.
Canada, a founding UN member, withdrew its candidacy for the two seats reserved for “Western European and Other States” after the second ballot when it lost a third of the support it had received on the first ballot. Requiring a two-thirds majority, Canada received only 78 votes while Portugal took 113. Portugal won unopposed in the third round of voting, while Germany claimed outright the other non-permanent seat, valid for a two-year term, on the first ballot with 128 votes. Canada had last served on the council in 2000.
To the chagrin of the UN’s petty tyrants and dictators, the Conservative government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, in power since 2006, is a strong, unabashed supporter of Israel. And to his credit, Harper steadfastly refused to “water down” his government’s foreign policy direction to curry their favour during Canada’s campaign to secure a seat. The Conservatives even announced the day before the vote that it was strengthening its trading relationship with Israel, a move that would have displeased the UN’s Arab-Muslim block. For years, these countries have tried to diplomatically isolate Israel, passing numerous motions against the Jewish state.
“The principles that underlie the policy of foreign affairs, freedom, democracy, human rights and common law, are the foundation of each of these decisions. Some would say that because of our attachment to these values, we lost the seat. If that is the case, so be it,” said a defiant Canadian foreign minister, Lawrence Cannon, after yesterday’s defeat.
Canada’s stout refusal to compromise on those values also earned a rebuke recently from the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Like a schoolyard bully, the UAE abruptly banned Canada this week from its military base, Camp Mirage, on Emirate territory that the Canadians have been using since 2001 to deploy their soldiers to Afghanistan. The Emirate government even refused to allow the Canadian defence minister and chief of defence staff to fly over its territory when the two high-ranking officials were returning from a three-day tour of Afghanistan.
The alleged reason for the shocking base cancellation was a dispute over valuable landing slots in Canada for the UAE’s state-owned airlines. Despite the fact the Canadian mission in Afghanistan, where over 150 Canadian soldiers have died, will now face increased difficulties, the Harper government, taking its usual ethical stance, has refused to link “air negotiations to geopolitical issues.”
Naturally, Canadian liberal and leftist critics were quick to blame the Conservative government for the recent foreign policy reversals. The tilt towards Israel, they believe, cost Canada votes among the UN’s Arab and Muslim countries and the states they influence, which constitute about a third of the UN’s 192 votes. Liberal opposition leader Michael Ignatieff, a former Harvard professor and friend of the Obama White House, taking advantage of Conservative government’s “embarrassment” and hoping for electoral gains, has called the UN rebuff “a sad day for Canada.
“After more than four years of a Harper Conservative government, the sad reality is that too many countries have lost faith in the way Canada conducts its international relations,” Ignatieff said.
The Conservatives believe, however, that it was Ignatieff himself who helped undermine the Canadian bid and therefore bears a large measure of responsibility for Canada’s historic loss. Recently, the Liberal Party leader questioned whether his country even deserved a seat on the Security Council because of the Conservative record on global warming, foreign aid priorities and its ignoring of the UN since 2006. Cannon said Ignatieff’s comments did not allow Canada to speak with one voice, which was used in the UN against the Canadian election effort.
Iganatieff is in good company when he expressed doubt over Canada’s fitness to serve again on the Security Council. The Canadian Arab Federation (CAF) had called on Arab and Muslim UN delegations to vote against Canada. Among the reasons the CAF lists for a negative vote are that Canada was the first country to withdraw from the racist and anti-semitic UN Durban II conference and its support of Israeli incursions into Gaza and Lebanon. Another transgression, probably the greatest in the CAF’s eyes, is that Prime Minister Harper refuses to deal with the CAF.
But while the left/liberal media and politicians in Canada are calling the UN defeat “an embarrassment” and “a loss of face”, many Canadians are pleased with the vote result. They view the UN as a morally bankrupt organization that manifests its internal corruption by having Libya as head of its human rights panel. Containing tyrants whose only goals are to destroy Israel and to suck as much money out of the West as possible so that they can then steal on a larger scale than they are already doing in their own countries, such Canadians view this week’s rejection by the UN as a badge of honor. They believe it is time for Canada to reduce its economic and political investment and withdraw from this corrupt organization that regards itself as the world’s unelected socialist government and help form a league for democratic countries only.
But until then, unusual for governments in this day and age, Canadians will continue to be served by a foreign policy of unbending moral convictions, as expressed by Lawrence Cannon:
“We will not back down from our principles that form the basis of our great country and we will continue to pursue them on the international stage.”