By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, November 29, 2012 - 0 Comments
John Baird is in New York today to vote against a resolution that would recognize Palestine as a non-voting observer state at the United Nations. The Prime Minister referred to the resolution as a “shortcut” yesterday and has reportedly pressured Mahmoud Abbas to drop the bid. Campbell Clark now considers what Canada might do in response to the resolution passing.
Michael Petrou makes the case that Canada should support Palestinian membership.
After QP yesterday, Liberal MP Irwin Cotler explained why he doesn’t support the resolution.
This démarche by the Palestinians, I’ve said this to Mr. Abbas, I’m not saying anything to [you], ’ve not said to him, I met with him over the past year several times and the Palestinians leaders and I said that this is a breach of Israel-Palestinian agreement. It’s a breach of international agreements, UN Security Council resolutions, etc., calling for direct negotiations between the parties as a basis for just and lasting peace. It’s a breach of a whole series of bilateral agreements with as a result of this mega-rupture, so I think it’s a mistake as a matter of law, as a matter of policy and a mistake in terms of seeking, on the 65th anniversary of that initial resolution, the same two states for two peoples…
Our position should be to bring the parties together for direct negotiations without preconditions, with a view to addressing all of the standing issues that remain on the agenda and with a view to securing, as I say, a just and lasting peace. I think that should be our approach. I think that the extent that we object, our objection should be that this unilateral initiative is in breach of the UN’s own resolutions and in breach of Israeli-Palestinian bilateral agreements and international agreements.
The NDP questioned Mr. Baird on the government’s approach during QP yesterday.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, September 21, 2011 at 10:45 AM - 64 Comments
“I think there’s no likelihood of this initiative by the Palestinian Authority doing anything to further the peace process. I think it’s possible that it could be counter-productive,” Mr. Harper told reporters outside the UN meeting on Libya. “But I would say, if the Palestinian Authority is serious about establishing a sovereign state, the method to do that is not a declaration here at the United Nations. It’s to get back at the negotiating table and negotiate peace with Israel.”
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, March 22, 2011 at 11:49 AM - 15 Comments
Last evening, after four hours of debate, the House unanimously approved the following motion.
That, in standing in solidarity with those seeking freedom in Libya, the House welcomes United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973; that the House deplores the ongoing use of violence by the Libyan regime against the Libyan people; acknowledges the demonstrable need, regional support and clear legal basis for urgent action to protect the people of Libya; consequently, the government shall work with our allies, partners and the United Nations to promote and support all aspects of UNSC Resolution 1973, which includes the taking of all necessary measures to protect civilians and civilian populated areas under threat of attack in Libya and to enforce the no-fly zone, including the use of the Canadian Forces and military assets in accordance with UNSC Resolution 1973; that the House requests that the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development and the Standing Committee on National Defence remain seized of Canada’s activities under UNSC Resolution 1973; that should the government require an extension to the involvement of the Canadian Forces for more than three months from the passage of this motion, the government shall return to the House at its earliest opportunity to debate and seek the consent of the House for such an extension; and that the House offers its wholehearted support to the men and women of the Canadian Forces.
By macleans.ca - Thursday, February 3, 2011 at 12:46 PM - 7 Comments
Diplomatic trips listed in documents introduced in the House of Commons
When Canada failed to earn an elected spot on the UN Security Council last fall, it seemingly wasn’t for lack of trying. The Harper government spent $884,000 sending Foreign Affairs diplomats on trips around the world to advance Canada’s bid. Some 150 trips, from the Polynesian island of Tuvalu to the Solomon Islands, were listed in documents that surfaced this week in the House of Commons. Canada also picked up the tab for several outings with foreign diplomats, including a New York Yankees game and a performance of Cirque du Soleil. The failed bid was the first time in 50 years that Canada lost out on Security Council seat—a failure some attributed to the Conservative government’s foreign policy (while the PMO pointed the finger at Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff, for not publicly supporting Canada’s candidacy).
By Scott Feschuk - Sunday, November 7, 2010 at 12:00 PM - 8 Comments
FESCHUK: Only a nation with a special rapport with China could rent its pandas for a huge sum
Time to shake off the shame of that Security Council defeat and put on a smile, Canada. After five years, Stephen Harper has finally secured a foreign policy triumph that doesn’t involve a Tim Hortons’ expansion. Ladies and gentlemen: we’re getting pandas.
Word has it that China has agreed to rent out a pair of giant pandas for extended stays at zoos in Ontario, Alberta and Quebec. It’s a pretty thrilling development—especially for the people of Toronto, who haven’t had the opportunity to observe a 300-lb. creature that eats 12 hours a day since way back in the mayoral race of 2010.
Cynics and also everybody have noticed that the Harper government is largely indifferent to minor global issues like climate change. But when it’s something as important as panda bears, the Prime Minister is willing to order the full-court press.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, November 2, 2010 at 1:55 PM - 0 Comments
Michael Ignatieff lays out his foreign policy vision to an audience in Montreal.
But none of this will be possible without the talents of every Canadian. Foreign policy is no longer reserved for diplomats, development workers, and soldiers. We used to talk about a “whole-of-government” approach. Our Global Networks Strategy requires a “whole-of-Canada” approach instead.
The next generation of Canadians will be the most international ever. Young people studying and working abroad will be Canada’s best ambassadors, and their experiences will shape the future of our country. We must rebuild our leadership in the world so that our young people can be proud again to live in a country that helps to improve our world.
And we must always support the youth of this country, when they go abroad to serve Canada. They are our finest representatives.
In the centre of our engagement with the world, we must restore our finest Canadian traditions, inspired by peace, justice, and mutual aid. We must show the world – and ourselves – that Canada can inspire us again.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, October 19, 2010 at 6:33 PM - 0 Comments
The Scene. Michael Ignatieff, attempting to combine his day job as a politician and his after-hours work as host of a late night phone-in radio show, surrendered the floor this afternoon to Derek from Toronto.
“My question relates to the fiscal waste and mismanagement that this government is doing,” Mr. Ignatieff said Derek said.
“They emptied the cupboard. Their spending is a hodge-podge with no real vision or direction. Why is the Prime Minister throwing away my generation’s money in such a reckless, incompetent and visionless way?” Derek begged by way of the Liberal leader. “Why?”
The Liberals stood here to applaud Derek, or Mr. Ignatieff, or Mr. Ignatieff’s relating of Derek’s concern, or perhaps all of the above. And obviously quite moved by this expression of concern from a real person, the Prime Minister came up quick to respond.
“Mr. Speaker,” he said, “actually nothing could be further from the truth.”
By Scott Feschuk - Tuesday, October 19, 2010 at 2:00 PM - 0 Comments
Who needs the Security Council? There’s a much bigger job for Canada out there.
The Security Council defeat was tough for Canada, but it overshadowed a more shocking international snub. Earlier this month, it was reported that the United Nations had appointed a diplomat from Malaysia—and not a Canadian—to serve as global ambassador to space aliens.
The news, reported in Britain by the Sunday Times, came as a real blow to Stephen Harper. Our Prime Minister had gone so far as to appoint John Baird to his cabinet—what more could he possibly have done to showcase his willingness to work with unusual life forms?
As it turns out, the Times made a mistake: the Malaysian official has in fact been put in charge of protecting us from incoming asteroids. Naturally, the UN hasn’t actually named anyone to serve in so silly a role as global liaison to E.T.
Which means the job is still up for grabs! I shall depart immediately to make Canada’s case to the General Assembly . . .
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, October 18, 2010 at 5:52 PM - 0 Comments
The Scene. “My question is for the government,” Bob Rae said. The Speaker having just called a start to Question Period, that seemed appropriate. And this being the Liberal foreign affairs critic’s first chance in quite awhile to publicly question the Conservative side—the Liberals lately preferring to focus on more domestic, which is to say “real,” matters—he seemed eager to get full measure for his minute and a half.
Specifically, Mr. Rae wanted the government side to account for its failure to secure a seat on the United Nations Security Council. Notably, the government side was more than eager to accept all blame.
“Our government is very, very proud of the principled foreign policy positions that we have taken over the past five years,” government House leader John Baird enthused to applause from the Conservatives around him. “Our government makes foreign policy decisions based on what is right and not what is popular, and we have nothing to be apologetic about.” Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, October 15, 2010 at 2:09 PM - 0 Comments
Cannon reiterated what several top government officials have disclosed already this week — that Canada had 135 written assurances of support and 15 verbal ones. ”The United States was among that group,” Cannon said from Brussels, where he was meeting his NATO counterparts.
Cannon made that remark only in French, during a short teleconference with journalists in which he took only three questions. Cannon immediately backtracked from the statement when asked a follow-up question. ”Let me clarify that: I don’t want to indicate that we did or did not get support from the United States. I want to make that clear,” the minister stated. ”I don’t want to go into who supported . . . during the course of that vote. I’ll leave it to the individual countries to indicate their position, vis-a-vis that given that it is a secret vote.”
By Andrew Coyne - Friday, October 15, 2010 at 9:00 AM - 0 Comments
COYNE on Canada’s defeat at the UN Security Council
The votes have been counted, the coveted “Western Europe and Others” seat on the UN Security Council has been decided, and it’s time to congratulate Portugal on its stunning victory. In a clear endorsement of the foreign policy of Prime Minister José Sócrates and his Socialist Party government, UN member states elected Portugal to a two-year term for only the third time in the republic’s history.
That at any rate is what you would gather from the Portuguese press, where it was celebrated as “a victory for Portuguese diplomacy” and confirmation of the country’s “influence and prestige”—though it rated somewhat less coverage than a 3-1 victory over Iceland in a qualifying round for the 2012 European futebol championships. My knowledge of Portuguese is a little rusty, but my sense is comparatively little credit was given to the failings of Canadian foreign policy.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, October 14, 2010 at 6:34 PM - 0 Comments
The Prime Minister makes his first comments on the lost security council vote.
“As I’ve said before, our engagement internationally is based on the principles that this country holds dear,” Harper told reporters at an event in eastern Quebec. “It is not based on popularity.”
The Canadian government, Harper said, takes its positions based on the promotion of “our values — freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law, justice, development, humanitarian assistance for those who need it.” ”Those are the things we’re pursuing, and that does not change regardless of what the outcome of secret votes is.”
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, October 14, 2010 at 12:21 PM - 0 Comments
Shashishekhar Gavai, India’s High Commissioner to Canada, refused to comment on how India voted, pointing out that the member nations cast a secret ballot. However, he said Canadians should not become preoccupied with the loss of face associated with the defeat, pointing out that India lost a similar contest in 1996.
“One has to move on. It’s not really the end of the world,” Mr. Gavi said Wednesday in an interview. “Canada’s position does not stand diminished in any way.”
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, October 14, 2010 at 9:02 AM - 0 Comments
In an opinion piece for Fox News, a former spokesman for several American ambassadors to the United Nations says the United States did not rally support for Canada ahead of the security council vote. And that unnamed conservatives believe a grand conspiracy was afoot.
Some conservatives in Canada believe that the Obama team worked with Canadian liberals to leave Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s conservative government hanging without vocal U.S. support. In the past, American ambassadors around the globe were instructed by Washington and led by the US Mission to the UN to work aggressively behind the scenes rallying capitals around the world to support certain countries in crucial Security Council elections. At other times, vocal American support was needed to highlight a priority U.S. issue. In Canada’s case, Rice chose to say nothing publicly and declined to lead a global campaign on behalf of our northern neighbor. Her silence also seemed politically coordinated when Canadian Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff criticized his own country’s policies on climate change and its staunch support for Israel – policies the Obama team disagrees with.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, October 13, 2010 at 9:26 AM - 0 Comments
To explain the security council vote, the Globe cites a shrinking international profile (exacerbated by minority government), a late campaign, Africa, Israel and the environment.
So what did the government do or not do to lose this crucial vote? According to close observers, many things. The Conservative government’s increasingly unflinching support for Israel – even as members prepared to vote, International Trade Minister Peter Van Loan announced new trade talks from Tel Aviv – cost it support in the Middle East and throughout the Muslim world.
The government’s perceived indifference to Southeast Asia cost votes in that region, while cutting back on the number of African nations receiving aid undermined support on that continent. Canada’s foot-dragging in creating a carbon market played heavily against it among numerous small island nations that perceive melting icecaps and rising sea levels as a mortal threat.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, October 12, 2010 at 9:45 PM - 0 Comments
While the Harper government blames Michael Ignatieff, ambassadors interviewed by Canadian Press don’t mention the opposition leader. Instead, African ambassadors tell Canadian Press it was the Harper government’s positions on debt relief and the UN Relief and Works Agency.
But “senior African officials” tell Postmedia Africa does not feel negatively. Instead, “officials based at the UN” say it was the Harper government’s position on Israel that upset members of the Organization of Islamic Conference, while one “senior Islamic official” says the OIC felt snubbed when Canada didn’t address the conference like Portugal did. Don Martin says “some” say the United Arab Emirates lobbied other Arab counties to vote against Canada after the Harper government refused to open runways in Toronto, Vancouver and Calgary, but a “senior government official” says Canada got a “good chunk” of the Arab vote.
Meanwhile, “government insiders” were preemptively guessing it might be Peter Van Loan, in Israel, with the new trade deal.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, October 12, 2010 at 6:56 PM - 0 Comments
Tony Abbott—leader of a conservative coalition—delivered a speech on the matter last April. Two years ahead of the vote, the government has preemptively accused Mr. Abbott of harming their campaign for a seat.
By Paul Wells - Tuesday, October 12, 2010 at 5:28 PM - 0 Comments
I actually don’t think it is overwhelmingly important whether Canada has a seat on the Security Council. The big stories in the world these days are not, as a rule, United Nations stories; the United States — not just Bush in Iraq, but Clinton in Kosovo, and probably Obama in who-knows-where soon enough — pays little heed to inconvenient Security Council decisions. One measure of how little any of this matters is this: Conrad Black wrote an entire column about Canada’s application for a temporary seat that betrayed complete confusion about what the Harper government was applying for, repeatedly calling it a “permanent” seat and comparing Canada to permanent-seat aspirants like China and Brazil. And nobody in the comments to Conrad’s column even noticed his mistake.
But I digress. But while it’s fair to minimize the importance of a Security Council seat, it’s also fair to note that however little Canada could have accomplished with one, it will accomplish less without it.
It is also fair to lay all credit or blame for this state of affairs at the feet of Stephen Harper. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, October 12, 2010 at 3:20 PM - 0 Comments
Michael Ignatieff’s statement on today’s defeat at the United Nations.
“Today, the international community sent a message that we cannot ignore. Our task is now clearer than ever: restore Canada’s proud standing in the world.
“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. The absence of leadership is noticeable, from blocking any progress on climate change, to freezing foreign aid and abandoning Africa, to largely ignoring the UN itself.
“We know of our potential because of our history. For decades, under both Liberals and Progressive Conservatives, Canada has led proudly on the world stage.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, October 12, 2010 at 3:10 PM - 0 Comments
“I do not in any way see this as a repudiation of Canada’s foreign policy,” he said. “The principles underlying our foreign policy, such as freedom, democracy, respect for human rights and the rule of law, were the basis of all our decisions. ”Some would even say that because of our attachment to those values that we lost a seat on the council. If that’s case, then so be it.”
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, October 12, 2010 at 2:51 PM - 0 Comments
NDP leader Jack Layton’s statement on the UN security council vote.
“For the first time since the creation of the United Nations, Canada has failed in its bid to serve as a non-permanent member of the Security Council. The result of today’s vote is deeply disappointing.
“Instead of trying to shift the blame, Stephen Harper’s government must accept responsibility for the loss of Canada’s reputation on the global stage. Every decade for the past 60 years, the world community trusted Canada with the grave responsibility of serving on the UN Security Council. Canada earned the confidence of the global community by conducting a responsible foreign policy which reflected a Canadian consensus on commitments to peace, justice and sustainable development.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, October 12, 2010 at 2:39 PM - 0 Comments
From Siri Agrell’s interview with Sichan Siv, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.
We’re running against Germany and Portugal. How do you like our odds?
These three countries have very good credentials. Canada, you’ve been involved in peacekeeping operations from the beginning. One benefit for Canada is that it’s not a European country. Although it belongs to Europe in terms of voting, people can argue that you have the U.K. and France already as permanent members and you should not have two more Europeans on the council. That would work in your favour. I’m sure the Canadian delegation would use that. Probably most people will go with Germany because Germany has been a huge benefactor to the UN and also because they have a very international aid program. That doesn’t mean that you are buying votes, but for poorer countries, that is a factor.
Our government has suggested that if we lose, it will be the fault of our Official Opposition. Do voting members look at the internal politics of the country? Do they care about our domestic issues?
No. Developing countries will look at what we call the neutral agreements, who supports each other on the UN level. If I vote for you, would you vote for me? On that note, I want to mention that the United States is the only country that does not trade votes.
By macleans.ca - Tuesday, October 12, 2010 at 2:02 PM - 0 Comments
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, October 12, 2010 at 1:08 PM - 0 Comments
Canada has failed in its bid for a seat around the UN security council table.
For those keen fans of finger-pointing, Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon is due to address reporters in New York at 1:15pm (viewable here). The Prime Minister’s Office has summoned Ottawa bureau chiefs for a briefing at 2pm. NDP foreign affairs critic Paul Dewar will speak with reporters in the House foyer at 2:30pm. And the Liberals have called a news conference with Michael Ignatieff, Bob Rae and Scott Brison for 3:30pm in the National Press Theatre.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, October 7, 2010 at 3:44 PM - 0 Comments
“We’re getting close to the vote and they are clearly feeling the heat. The speech was designed to cover their backs so, if they don’t win, they can blame Ignatieff,” one person who had been in the room told Reuters on Thursday.