Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Amid all the hooting and hollering

Bob Rae gets it right:

I think the case for Canada is very strong and I think the case was made effectively by the prime minister, but I think frankly it transcends partisanship and it transcends one political party or another, you know, when the prime minister is at the United Nations, speaking on behalf of Canada and talking of 65 years of Canadian experience, that is, I think, a story that everybody needs to hear and he wasn’t just talking about his own government, he was talking about the achievement sand the accomplishments of many different governments and I think that is the way we should approach it. I think we would be much better off in foreign policy if we looked much longer and harder at the things that we are doing together as a country and not see it as some partisan exercise. As far as I’m concerned, it is not a partisan exercise and I think that is the approach that we should be taking.”

Now I'll be frank. It wasn't Michael Ignatieff's fault that we lost the seat. It was Stephen Harper's foreign policy that made him lose this bid. But let's be clear, the Globe's editorial on the subject gets it right in the last paragraph:

Under the Conservatives, Canada has maintained its position of global leadership. It led at the G20/G8 this summer. It was the driving force behind a maternal-health initiative that promises to dramatically improve the lives of countless women in the world's poorest countries. It may hedge on an issue like climate change, but has enunciated an unambiguous message in terms of human rights, and democratic principles. It has aligned itself squarely with countries, such as Israel, which respect such principles. If Canada's failure to win a Security Council seat is a result of Conservative foreign policy, then it says more about the UN than it does about Canada.

On the global stage, Canada is consistently doing things right. The problem is that the UN is filled with a whole lot of countries whose leaders oppose some or all of the things that Canada champions. There is a large bloc of countries that oppose Canada's support of Israel. There is a bloc of countries which aren't impressed with Canada's direction for Climate Change. There is a bloc of countries which believe that Canada should give more foreign aid to Africa/middle east/southeast asia/AIDS/pick one. There are some countries who feel that Canada should stay in Afghanistan, and others who feel that Canada should not be in Afghanistan now. Add all this up, and it isn't surprising that Canada would have lost this bid when all it takes is the Islamic countries and most of Europe who may feel that there is more power in having an additional seat on the Security Council.

Mine is not to judge, but when NATO and the G8 seem to be more effective bodies, do we really care about a seat at the UN Security Council, let alone the UN itself?

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