The UN vote and those to come
Plenty of long faces across the river on Parliament Hill when the UN General Assembly voted to give its two revolving Security Council seats to nations other than Canada? Or maybe CISIS’ intelligence-gathering capacities had already warned the Trudeau government of the intentions of the world’s smaller nations? Mr Trudeau put a lot of energy into this campaign, more than former PM Harper who had also tried for a seat, but without much enthusiasm.
There are two big elephants in this room. First is that our reputation is not so hot at the UN -- too much foot-dragging on Indigenious rights, which groups from across Canada keep reminding the UN’s members. Many of those nations have this “problem”. We are also known as the USA’s right-hand person. Despite our few jabs at independence -- say, Trudeau Sr. with Cuba and Viet Nam, the Iraq invasion -- we’re considered the Americans’ enablers in Venezuela, Ukraine, Bolivia, Honduras . . . and China.
Ask most any foreign journalist, and Canada’s reputation is that of America’s kid brother (or hit-man). As a young reporter, my experience of this was startling: a revolver held to my temple by a political activist, raging at my obvious Canada-CIA connection. This was Mexico in the ‘60s (see the movie Roma?).
Both developments are unfortunate and unnecessary. That’s why the UN vote hurts -- we, who invented UN peace-keeping -- now reduced to a third place vote?
Considering these broad changes in our relationship with the world, the UN vote is no big surprise. Obviously, too, it is not the fault of the Prime Minister, nor our foreign service, especially the Canadians in so many UN agencies and services. Trudeau’s only blame is that he couldn’t re-direct the oil tanker in time.
Couldn’t his government have acted quicker on First Nations questions, or stepped back from US meddling in Latin America ... and China? What is our long-term beef with this huge trading partner? And why must we pick one side or the other? We can let the Americans pursue their trade ambitions, and we try not to get trampled in these disutes. Canada has -- or had -- a privileged relationship with China -- thanks, way back to Dr Norman Bethune’s vital assistance to Mao himself and his fledgling efforts to unify China.
Our captain is trying his best -- with much of our country’s best talent -- to steer us through today’s Rocks-and-Hard places. But this UN vote does tell us that it is not just some last-minute politicking the world needs. Isn’t it a mutual commitment needed on our part, not our history’s and our governments’ past record of minimal substantial change.
What about a constitutional convention to re-draw our entire nation? A shift in our diplomatic stance to independence and a middle power “fair trade for all” mindset? We’d win the next UN vote . . .