Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Canada drops ball on Security Council bid

It actually happened.    Canada lost its bid to be on the UN Security Council for the first time -- ever.   We've had six previous stints over the last six decades.   But not this coming one.

The United Nations conveniently divides the non-permanent seats on a geographic basis to ensure a global perspective to balance the original five nuclear powers which also happen to have vetoes.   For example, one seat always goes to an Arab League member to ensure the interests of the whole bloc and not just the individual country is represented.

The Western Europe and "Others" group (Others being the Caribbean, Canada, Australia and New Zealand) get two of the non-permanent seats for a two year term.   Traditionally, a non-European country is one of the two chosen to ensure the European Union doesn't have effective control of the UN's enforcement body.   A ⅔ vote of the General Assembly is required to grab one of the seats.   Yesterday, after being in last place after the first ballot but with no hope of catching up to Portugal (Germany was on the verge of winning the other seat anyway) Canada conceded -- and then PM Harper promptly blamed Michael Ignatieff for ensuring there wasn't a "united" front from Parliament.

Excuse me?

Just months after winning a minority government, Harper openly supported the carpet bombing of Lebanon.   He's ripped up virtually every environmental agreement we've signed.   He's cut foreign aid to Africa substantially while boosting it to Latin America (mostly to, again, corrupt government - à la the US).    And last year, on the opening day of the annual General Assembly, he skips the session to open up Manhattan's first Tim Hortons ™.    And he thinks bottles of maple syrup will make up for all of that?

Keep in mind that at the start of the Oslo Round of the Middle East peace talks, Canada (under Mulroney, a Progressive Conservative) offered to deal with the strand that is coping with the most contentious issue of all -- housing and the right of return for Palestinians to Israel proper.   This was continued under Campbell, Chrétien and Martin, but thanks to Harper we've had that taken away from us and with just cause.   We are no longer seen as a fair arbiter when it comes to that part of the world -- supporting Israel while insisting on justice for the dispossessed Palestinians (Muslims and Christians).

At present, no country I am aware of has their embassy to Israel in Jerusalem simply because the final status has not been determined.   In fact, if one was born in Jerusalem, a Canadian passport will only denote the city, not Israel.  But the religious groups that Harper panders to have repeatedly demanded that Canada move its embassy in Tel Aviv back to Jerusalem.   If not Harper, then perhaps someone with an even greater ideological bent than he will make that move.   Then whatever is left of Canada's supposed fair mindedness will be shattered forever.   Oh, and with that, any hopes of a free trade agreement with the EU also goes out the window.

As for dumping Africa off his foreign policy priorities -- well, imagine if Harper had been Prime Minister instead of Mulroney some twenty-five years ago.   I'm not saying that Lying Brian was the only person responsible for the freeing of Nelson Mandela, but his standing up to Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher and the evil policy of "constructive engagement" was a major turning point -- many countries followed our example and imposed crushing sanctions on South Africa that forced it to reform.    Harper might have just shrugged his shoulders and said, "Why should we support a convicted terrorist?"   Apartheid might have lingered a lot longer -- perhaps forever.

And it was Mulroney that pushed Reagan towards a toughened Clean Water Act in the States that benefited cross-boundary waters.

And oh yes -- the current spat over landing rights for the airlines from Abu Dhabi and Dubai which has cost us our air force base in the United Arab Emirates.   Something which has managed to divide the Harper caucus over something, perhaps for the first time since he took power.

Oh for those days -- pragmatism over ideology.

Harper has only himself to blame that Canada is the world's laughing stock, instead of a beacon of hope and reason.   And all of this, under a minority Parliament.

Vote for this post at Progressive Bloggers.


penlan said...

Good post. Well documented. And right on!

Anonymous said...

Ahh, so now will the Libs finally stop propping Harper up?

The UN does deserve criticism. Probably half its members are thugs.They opress human rights and are openly stealing resources meant for impoverished people.

Having said that it is clear though that Harper wanted a seat.Why, I have no idea.

I hope that we don't base our foreign policy based on what we think the UN wants us to be.

Walking out on Iran is the right thing to do.

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 10:32

You write: "The UN does deserve criticism. Probably half its members are thugs.They opress human rights and are openly stealing resources meant for impoverished people.

Having said that it is clear though that Harper wanted a seat.Why, I have no idea."

May I suggest an answer to your question? Maybe Harper felt that he would fit right in .... lol