Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Liberal Leader Costs Canada Seat on Security Council

Canada has been unsuccessful in its efforts to obtain a seat on the UN Security Council. Germany and Portugal won the seats designated for the Western bloc. Colombia, India and South Africa also won seats to the Council. Their two year terms begin on January 1, 2011.

Lawrence Cannon, Canada's Minister of Foreign Affairs, stated that Liberal Party leader Michael Ignatieff played a role in its failure to earn a seat at the Security Council.

Ignatieff has criticized the Conservative government of Stephen Harper for ignoring the UN. Last month, Ignatieff said, "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."

After hearing Cannon's criticism, Ignatieff responded that the failure to earn a seat "lies squarely and exclusively with the Harper government."

Now how significant Ignatieff's comments were in denying Canada a seat on the Security Council is, of course, debatable. It would be interesting to hear what UN member countries who voted against Canada would have to say about it but I'm inclined to think they would not comment about such matters.

Yet I can't imagine Ignatieff's comments did Canada any favors. If anything, Ignatieff cut off his own nose to spite his face. If Canada had been elected to the Security Council it would have been there until December 31, 2012. It is quite possible that Canadian voters could elect a Liberal government in the interim. In which case, Ignatieff would have come into power with a seat on the Security Council and would be in a position to appoint a permanent representative to that body.

Let's put it another way. I don't think any opposition politician in Colombia, Germany, Portugal, India or South Africa publicly objected to their country's presence on the Security Council. Ignatieff's comments are downright enigmatic.

Speaking of enigmatic, here's an article I wrote about Ignatieff in December 2008 shortly after becoming leader of Her Majesty's Official Opposition.

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