We’re Not Ready for the United Nations

Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

June 19th, 2020


Chief Allan Adam of Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation photographed after he was beaten by RCMP officers in Fort  McMurray, Alberta, Canada, March 10, 2020.

As we approach another Canada Day it is time to reflect on why the world community largely left Canada sitting on the shelf. Norway and Ireland, and not Canada, have been elected as the non-permanent members of the UN Security Council. In fact Canada had fewer votes than when we last tried under the Harper government.

So who cares whether Canada gets a seat at the Security Council and would we have made a difference anyway? Hasn’t the UN and its Security Council (SC) been largely discredited since its creation over half a century ago? And there were all those times the UN failed us, like when Russia invaded Ukraine and the US bombed Iraq, and when we allowed a massacre in Rwanda.

Unlike Justin Trudeau, former PM Stephen Harper couldn’t have cared less when he tried and also failed to get a seat. But then he couldn’t even be bothered attending scheduled UN meetings. No doubt his animosity towards world governance has left Canada in a shadow. So it would be easy to just blame Harper but that’s not going to stick.

UN Canadians

Canadians that are part of the United Nations Mali Task Force

Losing says more about Canada and how we are seen by the rest of the world than whether the UN was worth the cost of Harper’s airfare there. There are a lot of explainers out there with a lot of excuses for why we failed this time. Canada came late to the party and had fewer committed votes. The EU clearly voted for European nations over Canada.

Although Canada has moved to increase its miserable levels of international aid and policing, it’s still too little too late. Perhaps the poorer nations would rather not vote for another rich G7 nation. And maybe China used its influence to discourage its client nations as a way of further punishing us over the Ms. Meng, Huawei mess.

How hard did the US work on our behalf given Trump’s mixed emotions about our PM? Renewing our contract to arm Saudi Arabia didn’t help our reputation as a peace loving nation. And the Saudis themselves are hardly going to vote for us after our recent human rights spat. And did I mention how Russia might be voting? Come to think of it Canada has earned itself a few good enemies lately.

Then there is Canada’s middle east policy, slavishly pro-Israeli and embarrassingly so during the Harper years. The Liberals have since nuanced that policy, voting against new settlements, Still, it is hard to see much daylight between the policies of the two governments as Israel mulls amalgamating the West Bank.

We’ve been bullied, abused and pushed around, by both China and the US. And we just sit there and take it as if we really believe that the meek shall inherit the earth. We used to be respected as a powerful military and manufacturing nation. Today we have fallen back in many ways to where we started out – hewers of wood and drawers of oil. Would a UN seat allow Canada to develop a backbone?

Huwai executive

Meng Wanzhou – Chief Financial Officer of Huawei wearing the tracking bracelet required under her bail conditions.

Even Canadians don’t understand why we’re still holding that Huawei executive prisoner for a dysfunctional US administration when she broke no laws in this country. And we don’t get why we haven’t responded in kind to China’s one-sided trade war with us when they export so much more than we do. Do we really expect other nations to vote for an international wimp?

Mr. Trudeau invested a lot of capital twisting the arms and peddling Canadian democratic exceptionalism to more than just a few dictators in his quest for the elusive UN seat. Had he paid as much attention to the budding global pandemic, fewer Canadians might have perished to COVID 19. Ireland has half the death rate and Norway doesn’t even register on the same scale. A pandemic is a matter of global security after all.

While the PM was selling his vision of an inclusive, tolerant and compassionate Canada to African leaders, racial warfare was breaking out at home. And the conflict was over another fossil fuel pipeline making a mockery of any credibility the PM might claim on the climate change file. Oh and isn’t Canada still subsidizing the oil industry, and aren’t the provinces still fighting the carbon tax?

There is no concealing that racial inequality was behind those spectacular protests last winter, which partially shut down our economy. But then racial inequality is embedded in Canada’s Indian Act, created back at the time of confederation. And beyond indigenous populations, the black lives matter demonstrations have challenged the reported successes of Canada’s immigration and multiculturalism policies.

Chief RCMP

Chief Allan Adam of Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation photographed after he was beaten by RCMP officers in Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada, March 10, 2020.

Then video footage appears telling everyone that Canada’s famous red coats are not much better than a pack of thugs and goons. The unending American style police brutality and even murder against indigenous minorities is carried on tape for all to see as the PM and his police commissioner debate how much systemic racism really exists in our police services.

We keep telling ourselves that we live in the best country in the world. And indeed life is pretty good here for some but that ego-centric view glosses over our many warts, especially when it comes to life conditions for our indigenous populations.

So as we approach another celebration of the founding of this country we should embrace some humility. The UN delegates sent us a message. We’re not ready to take a leadership role on the world stage when we haven’t even got our own act together here at home.

But we can do better and there is a lot of work to do. Are you ready for the challenge Mr. Trudeau? What about the rest of us?

Rivers hand to faceRay Rivers writes weekly on both federal and provincial politics, applying his more than 25 years as a federal bureaucrat to his thinking.  Rivers was a candidate for provincial office in Burlington where he ran against Cam Jackson in 1995, the year Mike Harris and the Common Sense Revolution swept the province. He developed the current policy process for the Ontario Liberal Party.



Background links:

Canada Fails –    Trudeau’s Loss –    COVID Death Rates

Foreign Aid –     Are We Listening

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