Prime Minister Stephen Harper came into office vowing to “bring Canada back as a credible player on the world stage“. Today in New York, however, Canada’s chance to play a role at the UN Security Council came to an abrupt end when UN members considered the record of his government and voted to give the part to Portugal instead (Joanna Slater, “Canada abandons UN bid in embarrassing turn for Harper,” Globe and Mail, 12 October 2010; see also Jane Taber, “‘Sad day for Canada’ sparks call for foreign-policy overhaul,” Globe and Mail, 12 October 2010).
The Prime Minister’s Office has moved quickly to declare opposition leader Michael Ignatieff responsible for Portugal’s victory. However, years of neglect and denigration of the United Nations by the Harper government, its abandonment of UN peacekeeping (and to the extent that the Security Council has made Afghanistan a UN war, abandonment of UN warmaking as well), its foot-dragging on climate change issues, and its general subordination of Canadian foreign policy to domestic partisan political objectives may also have had something to do with it.
It is true, of course, that the Prime Minister did say some nice things about the UN in two recent speeches (his first speeches at the UN since 2006).
But apparently that wasn’t enough to satisfy ungrateful UN members.
See also Ceasefire.ca’s August 2009 discussion of the prospects for Canada winning a Security Council seat (“Canada fighting for a seat at the table,” 1 August 2009)
United Nations photo