Last night, Prime Minister Stephen Harper made his pitch for a seat for Canada on the United Nations Security Council. The vote for the non-permanent seat will take place on October 12.
The Council of Canadians has argued that the Harper government does not deserve this seat because of its refusal to recognize the human right to water, the fact that almost every country in the world has signed the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and its dismal climate policy.
We first raised our concern about Harper’s bid in a letter to the editor in the Globe and Mail back in March 2009. That letter can be read at http://canadians.org/campaignblog/?p=231.
In May, we hand delivered a letter to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon that outlined why we believe the Harper government does not deserve a Security Council seat, which prompted critical questions in the House of Commons and a mention on the CBC National News. More on that at http://canadians.org/campaignblog/?p=3570 and http://canadians.org/media/other/2010/12-May-10.html.
And in September, we faxed a letter to the 192 permanent missions at the United Nations expressing our concerns about positions the Harper government has taken on water, the climate and Indigenous rights. That’s at http://canadians.org/campaignblog/?p=4583.
Earlier this week, Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff said, “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.”
And yesterday, NDP foreign affairs critic Paul Dewar said, “It’s very difficult to see how we have a strong case (for the seat). In fact, it’s the opposite of that. So I am very worried about our chances of getting a seat at the Security Council.”
Canada’s ambassador to the United Nations from 2000 to 2004, Paul Heinbecker, has said, “We’ve always won and we’ve always won pretty convincingly. We’re probably going to win this time but not because the Tories have carried out policies which have endeared them to UN voters – I think that’s not the case – [but because] there is a long and good reputation Canada has at the UN.”
A Toronto Star editorial today states, “On Harper’s watch our foreign policy has, in truth, been less UN-focused, more Washington-centric and more muted. We’ve gained an unwelcome reputation at the UN for shirking on climate change, being erratic on human rights, less balanced on the Mideast, and indifferent to peacekeeping and disarmament. And we’re freezing aid. …In other words, there was a day when our claim (for a UN Security Council seat) would have been self-evident.”
And Toronto Star columnist Olivia Ward highlights, “Small island states at risk of disappearing as the climate changes are unimpressed with the Harper government’s stance on global warming. And Ottawa’s failure to back overwhelmingly endorsed UN measures on water as a human right and aboriginal rights has also raised eyebrows.”