I said, about a month ago, that “the diplomats in the Pearson Building do have interests: they believe, with good reason, that it was Prime Minister Harper’s foreign policy, especially his unstinting, some would say uncritical and one-sided support for Israel, that “cost” Canada a seat on the UN Security Council when it was, in their minds, clearly, “our turn.”” “That was, and remains,” I added, “the nature of the dispute between Prime Minister Harper’s government and the striped pants set in the Pearson Building: Stephen Harper built a policy on principle, the diplomats wanted the petty privileges that they think come with a seat in the UNSC.”
A bit later I also said that Canada would operate an unprincipled foreign policy: first, to because the Liberals want to get the Jewish vote back and, second, because the diplomats really, really want to have the (useless ~ no veto power) Security Council seat, perhaps for all the attendant cocktail parties and receptions.
Well, it appears that I was right. A report in the National Post says that Prime Minister Trudeau will follow through: ““On the issue of the UN Security Council, I highlighted to the secretary general that part of Canada wishing to re-engage robustly with the United Nations and in multilateral engagement around the world includes looking towards a bid for the UN Security Council,”” he is reported to have said.
That’s going to be a bit tricky, but doable.
To get the Jewish vote back my guess is that he, the prime minister, will have to almost as supportive towards Israel as was Prime Minister Harper ~ the only difference being that Prime Minister Harper supported Israel on principle.
But to get that UNSC seat he is going to have to satisfy the Europeans, the Africans and, above all the Arabs and their friends that he is back, that “Canada is back” to being “fair and balanced,” which, in UN speak, means being highly critical of Israel at every opportunity.
It will take a lot of first rate media spin to convince Canadian Jews and Arab leaders, both, simultaneously, that black is white and white is black, but the Liberals have done harder things to get what they want.
Getting a seat on the UNSC means going down a rathole that includes, for example, agreeing that countries like Pakistan, which has a law (Sec 295C of its penal code) that makes the death penalty mandatory for blasphemy, and the United Arab Emirates, where abuse of foreign domestic workers is an international scandal, deserve to have seats on the UN Human Rights Council. But that the sort of mental and moral gymnastics our foreign service officers will be able to manage in order to get that valuable seat on the UNSC … and all those invitations to the most exclusive cocktail parties. (Yes, yes, I know: important work is done a cocktail parties, and in the hallways of big conferences and, and, and … that’s true, but it’s not the be-all and end-all of diplomacy by any stretch of the imagination.)
The United Nations is an important organization. If it didn’t exist we would want to invent it. Canada has done, and continues to do valuable work in the UN, proper,. and in its many and varied member agencies. Lester Pearson earned (and deserved) a Nobel Peace Prize for his work there … in the UN General Assembly. Ever since the place was formed the UN Security Council has been more trouble than it’s worth, and the fact that France and the United Kingdom, for example, have a veto, because they are “great powers” and Germany, Japan, Brazil and India do not is a scandal. Canada should be proud of not having a seat on the UNSC. But some civil service “professionals” ~ who are unworthy of that title ~ are rumoured to have actively worked to promote the Liberals and undermine the Conservative government, while it was still in office, and now they appear to being “paid off” or “paid back,” or however one wants to describe it. Anyway, it looks to me as though the Liberal government is going down a moral rate hole in order to get a seat in the sewer for the diplomats.