Canada lacks the courage for a successful UN Security Council bid

In March 2016 at a press conference at the UN in New York City, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Canada’s decision to seek a seat on the UN Security Council for a two-year term in 2021-22.

Canada is ready once again to take a seat in the UN Security Council….With a renewed commitment to international peace and security, now is the time for our return.

But that welcome and well-received announcement was before the November 2016 presidential elections in the United States brought Donald J. Trump to the White House, occasioning major adjustments to the Canadian Cabinet to better facilitate the all-important Canada-USA trade relationship.

Way back in February 2017, warned that retention by Chrystia Freeland of the most important part of her erstwhile international trade portfolio — Canada-USA trade — while also becoming Canada’s foreign minister risked sidelining our UN agenda.

And that is exactly what has happened, with our bid for a UN Security Council seat looking more and more like the most high-profile casualty of our Trump-first fixation.

Canada is behind on its bid to win a United Nations Security Council seat, say former diplomats and foreign affairs officials, which they suggest shows a lack of political will to backstop a Liberal promise that has now become a low priority.

In fact the Justin Trudeau government may well be regretting they ever decided to seek a UN Security Council seat in the first place.

After all, such a position would force them to publicly take positions on a range of issues where the choice might well be to anger the Americans or abandon important international principles.  This problem would clearly be most acute were Donald Trump to secure a second term in office. (Perish the thought.)

But even with a friendlier White House in 2021, there still remains the thorny issue of domestic Canadian politics undermining good foreign policy.  Domestic considerations have always been a factor, but the Harper government took base political pandering to hitherto unseen depths.

In the view of Andrew Stobo Sniderman, a former human rights policy adviser to Stephane Dion when he was Foreign Minister:

What Stephen Harper understood well (and his successor Andrew Scheer understands still) is that bombastic bravado against bad guys abroad, however useless or even counterproductive, can score political points inside Canada.

Take for example the recent Conservative motion to freeze Canada’s relations with Iran, described by Sniderman as follows:

The recent Conservative motion about Iran represents the cheapest, most cynical form of politics: seeking partisan advantage at the risk of putting Canadians in real danger.

But the problem is that this cynical Conservative strategy worked. To the surprise of many, including the Conservatives, the Liberal government reversed its campaign pledge to restore full diplomatic relations with Iran and voted in favour of the Conservative motion.

Rather than potentially anger a small but very vocal segment of the Iranian-Canadian population, the Justin Trudeau government caved in.  So the question is obvious: if they cannot withstand this kind of cynical Conservative ploy now, why would they do any better when confronted with a plethora of such issues as a voting member of the UN Security Council?

For the full article on the state of play in Canada’s bid for a UN Security Council seat, see: Canada seen to ‘dial back’ UN Security Council bid, say insiders, all ‘rhetoric,’ no action (Samantha Wright Allen, The Hill Times, 20 June 2018).

For an in-depth discussion of the implications of the Conservative motion on Canada-Iran relations with panelists including Rideau Institute President Peggy Mason, and University of Ottawa Professors Omid Milani and Thomas Juneau, see: Parliamentary Briefing on Canada’s Iran Policy- Hosted By Iranian Canadian Congress (ICC) (youtube, published by ICC on 20 June 2018).

And see also: Ottawa’s efforts to restore relations with Tehran going nowhere says academic (Beatrice Paez, The Hill Times, 20 June 2018).


Photo credit: PMO (PM Justin Trudeau addresses 71st Session of UN General Assembly)

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8 Responses to “Canada lacks the courage for a successful UN Security Council bid”

  1. EricJuly 16, 2018 at 4:32 pm #

    Ireland, which has a much more progressive foreign policy than Canada, is apparently also vying for a Security Council seat:

    Honest Canadians should advise other countries to back Ireland rather than a maple leaf that acts as a U.S. stooge.

  2. Pete KirbyJune 23, 2018 at 1:28 pm #

    Right on, Anne Streeter!

    The Trudeau/Freeland pro-israel, anti-Russia policy is an embarrassment to all sentient Canadians. To support the corrupt Poroshenko, nazi-riddled government of Ukraine while shipping LAV’s to Saudi Arabia is a clear indication that Peace is not a high priority with our Sock Puppet and his warmongering Mistress.
    ….and don’t get me going on the leaking Bitumen pipeline!
    (Harper was a disaster…and now we have him back in sheep’s clothing!)

  3. Guy St HilaireJune 23, 2018 at 10:21 am #

    It has been a long time since Canada had it’s own foreign policy .We have been
    corralled and usurped by outside interest which basically leaves us being puppets whose strings are being pulled by other than from our own country .As a most glaring example , the bashing of Russia ,for no reason other than that is what NATO does , stands out glaringly as supporting my views.We are presently on the wrong side of history as the saying goes. We are at the behest of dual citizens who happen to rule the United States of America , in congress and the senate .Isn’t time that we stopped feeling sorry for the victimizers and paid attention to the victims in this world .

  4. jordan BishopJune 23, 2018 at 10:08 am #

    Anne Streeter has said what needs to be said It should be on the front page of every newspaper in our poor old country.

  5. Jef SimpsonJune 23, 2018 at 10:01 am #

    I agree with Anne Streeter. Well said Anne.

  6. Donald KerrJune 23, 2018 at 9:22 am #

    I agree with Anne Streeter; our international policies lack any consistency. Or maybe the policies are consistent with what the corporate business community prefers – like arms sales, oppose indigenous land rights, no policy on inequality, weak policies on human rights, etc.

  7. Anne StreeterJune 23, 2018 at 7:06 am #

    Why should we deserve it? As you say, Trudeau & Freeland have reversed the pledge to restore diplomatic relations with Iran, we are not talking to Russia, we are supporting the Neo Nazi puppet state of Ukraine, we have imposed sanctions on Venezuela, we sell military hardware to countries with human rights issues (Saudi Arabia comes to mind) and we have a dreadful voting record on the Palestinian/Israeli issue. What more is there to say!


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