Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Revisiting Harper's Bid For the UN Security Seat

When Louis St. Laurent was acting as secretary of state for external affairs, he held a dinner party in honour of Ernest Bevin, who was then Great Britain's foreign secretary. At the end of the meal, Bevin got up and made a speech, praising Canada for standing beside Britain in her hour of need. 'His compatriots, he said, would never forget the way their cousins across the Atlantic had come to their assistance during the darkest days of World War 11.'

St Laurent was not impressed by the implication that Canada had entered the war out of loyalty to the mother country, rather than for reasons of principle.
In his reply to Bevin he went out of his way to emphasize that Canada's declaration of war had been an independent decision made by the country's elected representatives, that it was prompted by the nation's determination to fight Nazism and had nothing whatever to do with helping Britain. (1)
That was an important stand, because Canada's foreign policy was based on what we felt was right at the time. And that same independence kept us out of Vietnam and Iraq, despite the fact that they were wars waged by our powerful neighbours. And St. Laurent wanted his guest to understand that, in no uncertain terms. 'St Laurent believed that most Canadians wanted their country to contribute to world peace and better understanding among nations. ' (1)

And I firmly believe that most Canadians still want "their country to contribute to world peace and better understanding among nations." Unfortunately our current government does not.

And for that reason more and more people are lending their voice, protesting a seat on the UN Security Council for a man so committed to war.
Harper wants this seat for a reason, and it has nothing to do with his phony reiteration of UN "values" -- none of which has he ever paid even lip service to. No, Stephen Harper wants the seat so that he can assist the U.S. in whatever imperial adventures and world domination plans it rolls out. Seeing Harper shaking hands with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas was truly repugnant, given Harper's unmatched and singular support for whatever Israel does. (Remember his "measured response" comment regarding Israel's laying waste to Lebanon? A more grotesquely disingenuous gesture is hard to imagine.) If Harper gets his wish, it will give him more opportunities to back Israel and support whatever action against Iran that the U.S. and Israel want, including bombing its nuclear sites. (2)
When Jean Chretien decided not to go to Iraq, Stephen Harper was livid. Not because he had studied the situation and weighed his options. What he said was: "I don't know all the facts on Iraq, but I think we should work closely with the Americans." (3)

He would have been quite willing to send us to war without knowing the facts. 'Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition' and to hell with what Canadians want.

Is this really a person who should be on a "security" council?
Canada’s formerly expansive foreign policy has narrowed into three tunnels at the end of which lie Washington, Kabul and Tel Aviv. Those faced with a choice between Canada and Portugal might well consider what Canada’s platform is, and whether we are the same Canada that once worked so hard for peace in the world.

In terms of actually winning votes, the Harper government seems to have it backwards. Shortly before announcing our candidacy, the government cancelled its bilateral aid programs in eight African countries, along with Cambodia and Sri Lanka. It then sent its hapless CIDA Minister, Bev Oda, to Colombo to harangue the Sri Lankan government on human rights abuse. Salt may cure some wounds, but it tends not to win votes.

The second question is, Does Canada deserve a seat in the Security Council? Bob Fowler, Canada’s longest-serving UN ambassador, says no: “The world doesn’t need more of the Canada it has been getting.” Narrow or non-existent policies on key issues, an ineffectual aid program based on the shifting sands of political opportunism, UN peacekeeping operations languishing at rock bottom, and cynical opportunism in the Middle East suggest that Canada may not have much to offer. More than half of the Security Council’s time is spent on African issues, a continent that the Harper government has deliberately pulled away from. And we seem not to be very interested in the UN anyway. (4)
"The world doesn’t need more of the Canada it has been getting.” Wow. This is our country guys and this is what he has done to it. How incredibly sad.

When Canada stayed out of Iraq, a group calling themselves 'Canadians for George Bush' began holding rallies. In Ontario speakers included Jim Flaherty and Stockwell Day. Out West, Jason Kenney led the charge.

At one of these rallies, a group of war protesters showed up, and the George Bush fans, Canadians all, began to chant "USA! USA!"

I guess we'd better get used to it.


1. The Making of a Peacemonger: The Memoirs of George Ignatieff, By Sonja Sinclair, University of Toronto Press, ISBN: 0-8020-2556-0, Pg. 108

2. Don't Give Canada a Security Council Seat: Despite the PM's high-minded rhetoric, we haven't earned the spot, By Murray Dobbin, The Tyee, September 27, 2010

3. Report Newsmagazine, March 25, 2002

4. Canada and the UN Security Council: Not Ready for Prime Time? The McLeod Group, September 2010


  1. I know you don't mean we have to get used to Canadians chanting "USA, USA" but it might come to that, Emily.
    Certainly the US doesn't need our military resources, their military is 23 times the size of ours. One large and one small US state will make up the population of Canada. No, they need our natural resources: not just oil, not just lumber, but WATER, yes, and LAND.
    I've been saying for years the only country Canada needs fear is the one that can send its troops across our thousands of miles of undefended border, stick the red-white-and-blue into the ground, and chant "USA, USA"! They won't even need to use those guns they love so much.
    Sadly, I believe that's what our present Prime Minister wants.

  2. I agree. That's why they've always had such a keen interest in the man. They won't have to fight for something he quite gladly gives them.

  3. That's why the specious arguments in favor of those American jets make me so sick. We don't need to buy THEIR jets to protect us from someone ELSE. Nobody else is interested in invading Canada. The Russians have plenty of northland of their own.
    I love and mourn the young men who are losing their lives in Afghanistan, and my heart aches for their families, because the whole gig is rigged, it's another Viet Nam, and those boys are dying unnecessarily.
    Canada's military made GREAT peacekeepers. When there was sufficient cause (i.e. WWII) they were great fighters. But we don't need those damn fighter jets, and we especially don't need to spend hard-earned Canadian taxpayers' dollars to buy them from the US of A.