A diplomatic game worth losing

COYNE on Canada’s defeat at the UN Security Council



A diplomatic game worth losing



The votes have been counted, the coveted “Western Europe and Others” seat on the UN Security Council has been decided, and it’s time to congratulate Portugal on its stunning victory. In a clear endorsement of the foreign policy of Prime Minister José Sócrates and his Socialist Party government, UN member states elected Portugal to a two-year term for only the third time in the republic’s history.

That at any rate is what you would gather from the Portuguese press, where it was celebrated as “a victory for Portuguese diplomacy” and confirmation of the country’s “influence and prestige”—though it rated somewhat less coverage than a 3-1 victory over Iceland in a qualifying round for the 2012 European futebol championships. My knowledge of Portuguese is a little rusty, but my sense is comparatively little credit was given to the failings of Canadian foreign policy.

Ah, but this is Canada, where it’s All. About. Us. If Portugal were selected over Canada, it can’t possibly be a reflection of Portugal’s merits, but only Canada’s defects. Plainly, the UN’s 192 member states intended to send a message to the Harper government, being as obsessed with Canadian foreign policy debates as most Canadians aren’t.

Oddly, that was the one point on which the government and its critics were agreed, the government suggesting its “principled stand” on Iran, North Korea and Arctic sovereignty (really? the Arctic?) might have raised some hackles, the opposition blaming its positions on global warming, foreign aid and the rights of indigenous peoples.

I don’t know what’s worse: the sort of self-absorption that believes the world revolves entirely around oneself, or the sort of adolescent insecurity whose self-esteem depends on being elected class prefect by the likes of Iran and Uzbekistan.

In any case, the notion that these votes are decided on the basis of broad principles of foreign policy—and that, by a remarkable coincidence, the UN’s complaints should exactly match the opposition’s—bears no resemblance to how the UN actually works. More typically, votes are “swapped,” one for another, with a frankness that would make a congressman blush. Guyana’s vote, for example, was purchased (or not: it’s a secret ballot, so you never know) in exchange for Canada’s support for a Guyanese judge’s bid for a seat on the International Criminal Court.

On the other hand, the Democratic Republic of Congo’s vote was apparently lost when Canada failed to deliver a promised loan in time for the country’s national day.

Well, all right. If the Harper government was outmanoeuvred at this game by Portugal (and Germany, the other non-loser), the first such defeat after a string of six wins, it deserves to take some heat. It may even be that its policies cost it some votes, notably its disdain toward the UN itself: it was Stephen Harper, after all, who famously passed on a special meeting of world leaders at the UN a year ago in favour of a photo op at an Oakville Tim Hortons. Which makes it something of a mystery why he should have invested so much of his government’s time and energy in seeking election to a body for which he clearly has little use.

No more a mystery, however, than why Michael Ignatieff should have said publicly that Canada had not “earned” a Security Council seat, if it’s as important as his party claims that we should be on it. (No, Ignatieff’s comments probably didn’t have much influence on the result, but they surely didn’t help.) Unless, of course, neither man thinks it matters a whit in substantive terms whether we grab a seat on the Security Council, and this is all about domestic politics.

What exactly do we have to show, after all, for our previous stints on the council? While we’re at it, what does the Security Council have to show for its 64-year existence? The League of Nations was supposedly undone by its failure to take action in the face of the Italian invasion of Abyssinia. But the Security Council’s history has been one long series of Abyssinias, of crises it failed to resolve and invasions it did nothing to stop, from Hungary to Czechoslovakia to Afghanistan. Indeed, it could not even muster a futile vote against these atrocities, being stymied at every turn by the Soviet veto. The shining exception was Iraq, whose conformity the council demanded in 17 consecutive resolutions, but which in the crunch it declined to enforce, Saddam Hussein being the client of several members of the council, or indeed, via the UN’s own Oil for Food scam, their sponsors.

If the Security Council is an anomaly—France, let us recall, is a permanent member—the General Assembly to which it reports is a disgrace. Most of the regimes to which Canada submitted itself for election have never themselves been elected to anything, a motley collection of tyrannies and kleptocracies whose chief amusement, besides packing the UN Human Rights Council with the world’s worst human rights abusers—Libya is a current member—is to pass hilariously one-sided resolutions against Israel.

Ah, Israel. According to former UN ambassador Paul Heinbecker, Canada’s current “pro-Israel” stance probably cost us votes among the UN’s 57 Arab and Muslim members. I’ve no idea if that’s true, but if so we should wear our defeat like a badge of honour.


A diplomatic game worth losing

  1. Thank you for the sane column. I'm sure someone will hate it.

  2. We should be happy and wear the badge of honour, the UN's agenda is all about conspiracies, period… If anyone truly cares about this so-called bogus embarrassment rap, then they are partisan hacks or left leaning media, period…

    • NEO-CON!!!

      • When did NeoCon become a bad word.

      • Neocon: Historically, 30 years ago Neocon meant a former liberal who became a conservative. The cliche was because "they were mugged by reality," but it was because they saw the empirical failures of liberal welfare, state and foreign policies, and they were therefore less ideological than other conservatives and brought much more of a social science background to their argumentation.

    • I don't know what's worse: the sort of self-absorption that believes the world revolves entirely around oneself, or the sort of adolescent insecurity whose self-esteem depends on being… a neo-con

    • Right On !!!!!!!!

  3. we shouldn't be pro israel or pro arab. we need to be pro peace and help others work out differences without being Team United Nations World Police.

    • Pro Israel = Pro peace.

      • For forty years, I thought the same thing (Pro Israel=Pro Peace) largely as the result of societal conditioning and disinformation. Then I started listening/reading to people like Chris Hedges, Noam Chomsky, Christopher Hitchens and Norman Finkelstein. I now know better.

      • Pro Israel=Pro opression

    • What's with this loan to the Congo when Canada has record debt because of the recession, and at a time when many Canadian families are having trouble just providing for the necessities of life. The UN it is an irrelevent relic who's time is past, and certainly isn't democratic by any stretch. Imagine, one of the permanent members of the so-called Security Council has one of the worst human rights records on the planet, as well as having a habit of invading their neighbours and claiming the land and people as their own, and also imagine that this same member has a veto. Yes China is that country, and with a veto they have the ability to overturn a majority vote, and that doesn't speak to democracy.

    • Good point…….for a third grader.

    • A badge of honor?! For siding with Israel who've been bullying Palestinians and stealing their land and their freedom for 60 years, and then saying you don't know if this affected the vote?! Common, Coyne, you must be smarter than that. Your piece is a shameful sham, no honor there.

  4. Finally, a hint of sanity. Thank-you Mr. Coyne!!!

    • Very much agree.

  5. Hit the nail on the head!!!

  6. Columns like this are why I disagree with Wells that Chantal Hebert is the top political columnist in Canada. Well done sir.

    • Hebert is good too. I like both Coyne and Hebert, but I think I like Coyne's writing better (although Hebert must be given credit for strong literary skills in two languages). Coyne, like Wells and Hebert, reports all sides to an issue. Of course, the first step to reporting all sides is actually understanding all sides, and that's where most columnists and journalists fail miserably, unable to understand positions beyond their own.

      • Agree completely, I do like Hebert as well. The 3 you mention are pretty much the only "must-reads" covering federal politics.

        • Did you feel the numerous NGO: Rights & Democracy articles from Paul were balanced?

      • Chantal Hebert has a great deal of insight on political Canada and awsomely balanced insight on Quebec in my opinion.

        Some of the other MacLean's columnists used to write like they were a fly on the wall of the Liberal cabinet rooms. Perhaps that is why Harper has been closed mouth and has ordered his members and high public servants to be as well . Reporters like nothing better than "sources" meaning whisperers and leakers. .

      • Do you really think Coyne understands the plight of 3 generations of Palestinians kicked out of their homeland by rich European and American settlers and kept behind refugee camp fences with their backs to the sea ? He doesn't, he's totally one-sided when it comes to Israel and doesn't see the terror inflicted by their side.
        [youtube VT45km5fv4Y&feature=related http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VT45km5fv4Y&feature=related youtube]

    • Me too!!

  7. Wear defeat like a badge of honour? So it is "self-absorption" above "adolescent insecurity" for you Mr. Clary. The problem is that as flawed as the UN may be, Canada loses a lot more by not engaging with it. If indeed Canada is a country of high values, it should engage with the world in order to uphold those values.

    • "The problem is that as flawed as the UN may be, Canada loses a lot more by not engaging with it."

      Okay. Like what?

      • I don't get it….If the UN is as flawed as it is why did Harper EVEN try to get a seat…….why did he care at all?…..it seems the only thing this PM cares about is slagging the opposition…..

    • Canada should engage with the world in a way that doesn't compromise our principles of decency and fairness. Anybody of any race/religion/orientation/persuasion can find a home in Canada and the law will protect their human rights. (at least this is what we strive for, if not always able to achieve)

      The same is not true for most of the other U.N. participants. Compared to most other countries, Canada is an expert on human's rights. They need to learn from us, pure and simple. If we get voted out of any U.N council, it's to the detriment of other countries, not Canada.

      • Wow, self-righteous sour grapes. Ask Alex Hundert about Canada's respect for human rights. Ask Abousfian Abdelrazik. Ask Maher Arar. Ask the 1000 innocent people arrested and mistreated during the G20 mess.

        • Really? A G20 jack*** being arrested for being a jack*** and inciting public violence is a 'human rights violation'?

          You get that in China your buddy Hundert would have been executed in the street, right? That's what adults call an 'actual' violation.

  8. Well put and to the point Mr. Coyne. My wife is already in love with your brain and writing; and as of this article, I feel a "man crush" emerging. Looking forward to you continuing to represent those of us seeking rational and well argued points of view – rather than the TMZ-esque value of most articles one comes across in our so-called developed western media.

  9. lol. So am I to suppose that anytime we don't get the position we seek, its because those people are bad? It's all their fault for not putting us on the high table! They don't know how good we are, it can't have been our "principled" policies or the fact that we're in bed with the americans :( Hey Coyne, instead of complaining how the rest of the world are hypocrites, try and put out some articles that tell the gov't to come up with an independent foreign policy. Then, maybe, the world will look at us for our own merits.

    • Our foreign policy is already independent, of Europe, Asia and our largest trading partner to the South of us. That's the entire jist of this article.

  10. The real question here is why Harper and co put so much effort into getting a seat in the first place, particularly when the Americans didn't care if we had it or not and didn't have any intention of helping out. It was effectively us against the entire EU, and with how the UN works (if "works" can ever describe the UN) that was never a winning game.

    • To keep the noisy socialists happy.

      • noisy socialist are never happy, find one!

        Look at Castro he finally admitted that socialism did not work out as intended.

      • That in itself is way beyond UN proportion. Socialists life is about harping and crapping. Depression is not an illness but a profession for these type of people.

      • and the disgruntled old PC party members?…..you DO realize that not everyone who critisizes this PM is a Liberal/Commie/socialist/whateverother -ist you want to denigrate your political opponent with..some of us are just angry about the stupid decisions and the ridiculous amount of money this Government has spent…..

  11. I am sure that this column will appeal to the small minded radical right that will take Mr. Coyne's hyper-partisan radical right spin that rather than fix something we should just blow it up. This is typical sour grapes and revisionism on the part of the Harper thinking. The bottom line is this…129 countries votes for somebody else…are they all wrong and corrupt…while Harper suddenly is suddenly the holder of high principle and virtue? Hardly. Harper has attempted to undermine and negotiated in bad faith on many an international stage. The writing was on the wall when at the G8/G20 Harper was incapable of raising funding necessary on his foreign aid maternal care (less abortion). Harper's foreign policy is mired in and modelled after domestic politics that caters to less than a third of the Canadian voter received a resounding slap down on the international stage. Other countries, including the U.S., recognized that Canada's foreign policy is not its own but that of a minority government whose only interest is to pander to it's minority support.

    This is not the worldly vision that Canada is capable. This is simply the Harper agenda. And the world knows it. And let Harper know it in no uncertain terms. It seems international community understands Harper does not speak for the Canada they know.

    • The bottom line is…. most of the 129 countries are wrong and corrupt

      • Listen Stephen, I told you once, I've told you a thousand times. Stop reading your own right wing press coverage. Because, you start believing it. And that's when you get in trouble.

      • "Those who live in glass house shouldn't throw stones". At least in these 129 countries the corruption is evident and out in the open. Not hidden under "the cosmetics" and smoke-screens. the Emperor has no clothes, friend

        • "At least in these 129 countries the corruption is evident and out in the open. Not hidden under "the cosmetics" and smoke-screens."

          That's a valid argument in your mind? Really? Because, of course, so many of the 129 countries are democracies, right? And public dissent is encouraged in all of them as well?

          Give your head a shake.

          • it was. in Toronto for the G8/G20. hellooo .. 1 billion $ on riot police. glad you have the tax-dollars to have paid them. all the "democratic" nations are police-states. If you believe that "media-coverage" seems to lead to "democratic" solutions .. maybe "you" should shake "your" head. In all cases, it appears the Law favours the wealthy, in any country. Haven't you been reading the News lately as well. In Canada you do not have access to the Miranda law when detained by police .. and they can be very intimidating. try it next time you are stopped for an infraction .. just get out of your car or try to resist if you refuse to show identification

          • Why not try you goonish tactics in China or Saudia Arabia?

            Marxism is failed. The Berlin Wall is gone. Get over yourself. Even Castro had admitted socialism has failed.

          • ???????? Haven't a clue about what you are talking about mate. And from what I understand, China and S. Arabia are doing rather well under their "Capitalism" according to all the fund managers and investment bankers trying to get their hands on a piece-of-the-action. oh, and about their position on human-rights and freedoms, you will find that most of their populations have been relatively quiet lately. Speak of Iran and now you're talking!.

          • Without freedom of the press how do you know they are doing fine?

            Here is a hint you have your reality upside down. Is China or Saudia Arabia having an immigration problem? Are people trying to jump the queue and trying to get to them?

            When the Iron Curtain fell, people like you whitewashed SOCIALISM and blamed CAPITALISM as evil. Can you explain how GREED in SOCIALIST countries is any better than in CAPITALIST countries?

            You need a politibureau or a group of MEN to tell you what to produce and what line to stand in?

          • Freedom of the press: what planet do you live on? R. Murdoch, the Thomson Family don't give a flying f**k about "freedom of the press" unless it effects their P/L. in the case of China, no…what would you do with 1.5 billion people? In the case of S. Arabia .. they are looking for investors to pay back Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum. What line to stand in? SOCIALISM is about EQUAL distribution of WEALTH. Funny how we hear little about Sweden, Norway but a lot about how the rich should get involved with philanthropy to avoid disaster which will certainly destroy their mansions and "quality of life". GREED: Capitalism – no Law against. Socialism: we make an attempt. In BOTH cases: "power corrupts" and "absolute power corrupts ABSOLUTELY. But I would rather live in a world that tries to correct "there are winners and losers". Because .. if not .. I prefer to use the 2nd Constitutional Right of the USA. And we have learned "0". There Will Be Blood. Why don't YOU just come out and say: hey, I don't like you and I'll just blow you away. Will enjoy hearing your "warped" response..

    • This has little to do with Harper and that comment is out of Grade 3.
      Canadas values outlast and outlive any Government.
      There is NO doubt that our support for Israel already stated by some UN people did in fact influence the VOTE.
      We can stand tall on this one. COYNE is absolutely right.
      Harper-haters are so consumed that logical analysis always fails.
      Carpe Diem.

      • "Logical Analysis" would say people make rational decisions on Israel by assessing facts but in fact you accept information which confirms your identity and values, and reject information that conflicts with them.

        Read Common Cause, written by Tom Crompton

    • Well said CanadaFirst. I was beginning to question where is logic and sanity gone after reading Mr Coyne's one sided and "we art better than thou" argument.

    • Closer to the truth is the 129 are skanky opportunists, playing an old whore's game which should be familiar to European History students. Nothing new to see here. As far as Canada's foreign policy, it should not be made in the bedrooms of the "international community" . Diplomacy is too often linked to agreeing with whatever kinky things they've dreamed up amongst the totalitarians and the Continental mugwumps. Carbon trading. Maurice Strong who should be arrested and tried for the Oil for Food thing that made him rich(er)..He's hiding in Beijing btw. creating a new world currency.

      Canada should wrap it up on the Bono inspired nitwittism .. The DR COngo for crap's sake..it is to larf!!!!

  12. I agree the security counsel and the UN as a whole has no real power anymore (most international military intervention is now done by NATO or other regional organizations). The media has focused too much on this. The only reason this story has any importance is that it does show the changing opinion of Canada in the world stage (which i think is a good thing)….and that's it.

  13. It might have been a "game worth losing" but it still displayed the Harper government's diplomatic incompetence. There's a price to pay for ignoring foreign affairs and letting DFAIT deteriorate.

  14. The world is a complex place, and the UN is a reflection of that complexity. To flippantly say we should disregard the UN for its failures is half a thought. Tell us what alternatives you think might make sense in this world rather than proposing picking up our marbles and going home.

    • absolutely right. Of course politics has to be touched up by a dose of realism, such as it is true that the UN has had only moderate success representing its principles, but the same dose of realism works the other way; its our global community and its not enough to say o well we know better then the rest of the world, no point in taking part in their political games. Lets remember the UN is often viewed as a STAGE for the political actors in this world, mainly states. Hard to give the UN all the responsibility for the failures of the global community when it operates on a budget that is incapasitatingly small and subject to individual countries desires.

    • How about working unilaterally without being hampered by the incompetent bureaucracy/politics of the U.N. In my opinion Rwanda was the death knell of U.N. relevance. Canada has to look to it's own ability to bring stability to the world and work within that sphere to promote change. Who knows, other civilized countries may ditch the U.N. and come on board.

      • Really? Rwanda was entirely the UN's fault. Are you saying that no other countries could act with a conscience if they wanted to? That is completely a self justification of the failures of each and every one of us. Did we take to the streets and demand that our governments act. No we sat silent in our homes and watched the spectacle unfold on TV.

  15. Ah yes…
    " Most of the regimes to which Canada submitted itself for election have never themselves been elected to anything, a motley collection of tyrannies and kleptocracies whose chief amusement, besides packing the UN Human Rights Council with the world's worst human rights abusers—Libya is a current member—is to pass hilariously one-sided resolutions against Israel. "
    This is correct. The UN is useless !
    All you liberal puke heads and go fly a kite near the power plant if you believe the garbage the UN blows out of their hot mouth

    • Why can you not simply choose to disagree with "liberals" instead of denigrating them with pejorative adjectives? Your attitude speaks to the problem with Conservatives today and why they will never achieve the trust and votes of the majority. Respect your political opponents. Gain the respect of the electorate.

      • Oh I think I would rather the "denigrating" be out in the open…..otherwise you end up with a wolf in sheep's clothing

    • Love your colourful language!

    • I'm rubber, you're glue, conservative doodypants.

  16. Now that were not going to be at the table to decide Afghanistan's future, maybe Spain can take our place and we can bring all our men home. Also just a thought, maybe it's time we focus on Canada instead of the rest of the world for a change, we have lots of problems here to.

    • Good point, that completely escapes the entire conversation here. WERE NOT AT THE TABLE!! And we still have men and women in Afghanistan in harm's way…and we have lost Camp Mirage…this even worst than at first realized.

      • Shock! Awe! Horror! Look on the positive side, perhaps this "rejection" is a sign that we are sane.

  17. German philosoper Artur Schopenhauer once said "if you cannot win a discussion with your oponent then try to make him looking bad in the eyes of others". Old trick all over again…

  18. I would like to know just how much money was spent by the Harper government in trying to secure the votes of the UN member states. Was Harper even aware of the secret ballot which would determine the result of all his lobbying? Clearly this is an international rebuff to the present Canadian government.

    • This article is deeply disturbing.
      If you want to wear that badge of honor
      then obviously you don't read anything else but yourself.

  19. Perhaps the U.S. didn't support us because we have made the decision to take our fighting men and women out of Afghanistan next year. We will never know and the U.S. State department will not confirm that they actively supported the Canadian bid for the seat. That tells us a lot.
    Coyne is right. Harper is running the Canadian government, not an African government or a Muslim country. He is making decisions as the Canadian government. If the rest of them don't like it they can get stuffed.
    Of course the opposition are making hay out of this as if it is the last thing on earth. The fact is we may have lost the seat but we have an excellent sound bite of Igantieff bad mouthing the country which will be used in the next election I am sure.

    • Had the US showed its full out support we would have lost more votes. Remember some countries did not support us not only to the above mentioned reasons but also due to our perceived closeness to US and policies. If only Canada could start forming a new organization of countries, were in the criteria for membership is Democracy. If one wish to apply, a country needs to have democratic institutions in place and working. Rogue and despotic countries who wish to join has to reform in order to join in. By having criteria for membership, we will see change for the better instead of a dysfunctional UN or the likes.

  20. The United Nations is and always has been a totally useless organization, at home we have the CRTC equally useless.
    Andrew Coyne hit the nail on the head. Great article

    • Yeah we should stop all international discussion completely. We should have no forum to debate issues of global significance. Oh and lets make sure we get rid of UNICEF while we are at it. Coyne's article is what was useless. What does he actually propose?….. nothing. It is easy to write negative articles that propose nothing.

  21. There are elements of sober rational thought here, no question. But the issue isn't really one of whether the UN is a famously effective body (perhaps, like Churchill's famous comment upon democracy, it's the worst possible multilateral institution, save for all other choices), or whether seats on the Security Council confer anything meaningful than some sort of "status", or whether those voting at the UN represent regimes worth courting, or even whether the process of electing Council members is at all transparent, fair and based on meaningful criteria. Had any of those aspects of the event been central to the question, there would never have been much made of the entire process neither before, during nor after.
    But, indeed, much was made of the election to this seat, and by the very people in government and the media now quick to regard the waste of so much effort as a badge of honour. Rather like a presumptive Olympic champion finishing well out of the medals and taking the opportunity afterward to claim that the IOC was corrupt, the Olympics were a mindlessly commercial undertaking, that many of the athletes were doping, and that, on the whole, she was glad not to have a shameful Olympic medal to wear around her neck. More than mere disingenuous sour grapes, it asks us to believe that the years wasted in pursuit of the medal were worthless. Even though I sympathize with the criticisms, those of us with the ability to take a balanced view recognize it as petulant, baseless whinging. Which is why Mr. Coyne may be correct on many scores, but the loss is still an embarassment and an indictment of the current government's misplaced, thoughtless priorities.

    • You are full of style but little substance.
      Canadas contribution to literally dozens of countries with our value system that outlives all Canadian Governments shows that the UN is a petulant and rather self-serving organisation that is now governed mostly by dictatorships.
      Canada can stand tall with its support of Israel, a country small but surrounded by threatening giants of dictatorships.
      You seem to forget that. This is NOT a Harper issue regardless on any eccentricities.
      Canada is a founding member of the UN.

      • How to respond like a mindless partisan:
        1. Make a baseless ad hominem attack ("You are full of style but little substance")
        2. Advance irrelevant tangential arguments, preferably based on faulty logic or no logic at all ("Canada's contribution… now governed mostly by dictatorships")
        3. Continue with assertions that are pure invention, or based on inaccuracies or facts at least highly in dispute (I really wasn't aware that Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt represented "threatening giants of dictatorships"–though I grant they're not beacons of democracy–and wonder, in any event, what the implication is, that Canada should have no relationships with these "threatening giants" whatsoever? And if so, what is Israel if not the most violently aggressive power in the region (based on their recent history) run by a dysfunctional democracy that gives inordinately large amounts of power to small, fundamentalist, xenophobic parties? Not that that's a fair characterization, but one that fits with your characterization of Israel's neighbours as "threatening giants of dictatorships".)
        4. When all else fails, resort to non-sequitur. (Canada is a founding member of the UN.)
        What troubles me is that your vote counts just as much as mine, even when it seems apparent that your opinion is based on ignorance and ideology alone. I grant that I am just as committed to (a far different) ideology as you, but I try to balance this with a concern for facts, reality and the bigger picture. My point was not to make Liberals, NDP, Greens or the Bloc look good by comparison, but merely to state some facts and use them to underscore that this "badge of honour" argument is clearly nothing but a cheap rationalization, and a sign of moral weakness. And yes, I mean moral weakness, because in my world, morality is not inextricably linked with one religion, one political party, or one worldview.
        But then, one might well ask why bother to comment in this kind of a forum, given the likelihood of not advancing sanity or clear thinking at all? It's a good question.

        • Mr. Coyne may be correct on many scores, but the loss is still an embarassment and an indictment of the current government's misplaced, thoughtless priorities.

          Can you define how a victory for Germany and Portugal is an embarrassment and an indictment of the current governments misplaced thoughtless priorities?

          Are you suggesting a seat on the security council is a validation or the thoughtful priorities?

          Think about some admitted members of the U.N. Security Counsel for a moment..


          Read more: Searching for Liberty http://searchingforliberty.blogspot.com/#ixzz12Skhttp://searchingforliberty.blogspot.com

          Okay tell me why their contribution on the international global stage is better. (This should be FUN)

          • See my reply to your other comment below. It should be stated clearly that considering contributions in terms of "merit" without first acknowledging cultural biases, closely-held interests, and lack of objective criteria is a mug's game. Asking your interlocutors to do that can only seem wise to those not willing to consider the question seriously.

            And, no, I have never suggested "a seat on the security council is a validation or [sic] the thoughtful priorities". Anywhere. Are you going to suggest that had Canada won the seat, this would equally have indicated nothing whatsoever about standing in the world, at least for those who voted? Otherwise, you have to conclude that the entire UN experiment is corrupt, meaningless and probably counter-productive (which it may be).

            But then, you ought to be even more incensed with the current government for having wasted so much time and money on the attempt to win a seat.

          • What I find somewhat upsetting is that Canada has heravily supported the UN for 60 years. I can clearly remember those heady days in San Franciso when many, including myself, thought the UN had a future in world peace and would go the way of the League. And I believe it will

            Unlike many countries, including the US, we were among the few countries that paid their duesand provided resources for peacekeeping, even though they were largely useless if either of the parties really wanted to mow, as did Egypt and the UAR, when the gave Canada and the other peace-keeping nations to skedaddle becasue they (the UAR) wanted to beat the pants of Israel but instead got the pants beaten off themselves.
            I feel that the UN has been watered down because the big nations with the veto on the Security Council agree, nothibng will happen (witness Rwanda).

            The other diluter is the large number of takers rather than givers. I would like to see a survey by the UN of how many gravy train riders from third world countries now staff the various UN bodies – except for a few notable ones such as those funnelling aid.

            That is why I think that membership on teh Security Council is no big deal.

          • I don't get why you can't understand me. I said that "the loss is still an embarassment and an indictment…", but I never said that converse was true (that a win would be positive recognition and approval of our priorities). There are two separate issues here: embarassment; and indictment. A win would clearly NOT be an embarassment, but it's not necessarily an endorsement.

            Quite apart from the fact that I am not making the argument you believe I am, I am unclear as to why this is important.

    • Actually the left leaning pundits and opposition are calling it a significant slap.

      Those of us take it as sign in good standing like those Fossil Awards.

      The left and their machinations don't hold sway to solutions or principles.

      You might feel Germany or Portugal is more deserving.

      You also may feel validation by Chavez, Castro, Mugabe is important. I don't.

      • If you and like-minded commentators believe that rejection by the UN is a good thing, why aren't you clamouring for us to become one of the few nations to ever withdraw? We'd save lots of money and possibly start a trend. And since being at the table seems to confer no advantage, what's the harm?

        It saddens me that there is so little logic, understanding, knowledge or goodwill in the discussion.

        • "rejection by the UN is a good thing"? You are suggesting people are voting against someone by voting for someone else?

          Germany and Portugal may have run a better campaign with greater rewards. Would you agree Liberals were rejected by 73.7% of the voters in 2008? I have stated the Liberals won 26.3% of the vote. The Conservatives won 37.6% of the vote in 2008.

          Nations voted for many reasons and Canada did not win. Do you refer to the Liberals, NDP and Bloc as losers and rejected by Canadians?

          Why is it acceptable than to do it now against Canada and our government?

          The UN did not reject Canada. More countries voted for Germany and Portugal to have a security seat.

          Do I feel bad 50 OIC countries voted as a bloc for Portugal who offered the 2002 Arab Mideast Peace Policy to redraw Israel back to give back lands won in 1967? (NO)

          Do I seek validation from Chavez, Mugabe, Castro and other dictators? No

          Our Government sought a seat to help reform the UN from within and inside the SEC, do I think we deserve a seat based on merit and our heavy lifting in comparison to the other two? YES.

          The anti-government supporters think this is a significant issue, just like every other manufactured crisis.

          I did not suggest a "higher profile" would be on no benefit. (That would be illogical and dishonest)

          It would have been a political advantage against the "left" leaning pundits at home. The left leaning media thrive on the negative superficial issues ignoring the real issues that matter.

          I have stated we might be too successful for a U.N. security seat. http://canadiansense.blogspot.com/2010/10/is-cana

          I have stated the "left" feel Germany and Portugal are more deserving http://canadiansense.blogspot.com/search?updated-

          That is why I make fun of those who add up the opposition votes as against the government. It is not consistent.

          • A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. — Ralph Waldo Emerson

            That seems apropos here given your distaste for what you regard as the inconsistent positions you oppose. But frankly, I don't see more consistency in your position. It seems to me that you're now just being disingenuous by claiming that you are only making observations about procedural issues, not taking a stand.

            You would be far more honest by stating clearly your disdain for the Left, your support for the current government, and then advancing some arguments in support. But I have nothing against your position, even though it's not one I agree with. Instead what I find objectionable is your insistence on suggesting that I am a Liberal supporter merely because I made a reasoned (and logically consistent) argument against the self-serving rationalizations being advanced in favour of losing the UN vote. Nowhere do I take a position in line with the Opposition, other than to call this article what it is: a somewhat transparent apology for the ineffectiveness of the current government to secure a seat; an ineffectiveness which is based on the outcome of choices made by the current government. I also take issue with simplistic generalizing, of the sort which treats Chavez, Mugabe and Castro as alike merely because they're not leading democracies. That would be like saying that Harper, Obama and Manmohan Singh are alike since they all lead democracies.
            Furthermore, I don't think I've read anyone on the "left" make the argument that Germany and Portugal are "more deserving", just that we have not made the case that WE are. And it should be stated: I don't take the UN votes for Portugal and Germany as votes against this government one bit, nor do most who seem to be critical. WE take them against the government, because what they represent is that those who voted against Canada evidently felt that there was no particular reason to vote FOR Canada's membership. It wasn't a referendum on every aspect of this government, but it is an indictment of the loss of power and prestige to Canada, and this government is the only body with the responsibility of protecting our prestige and influence in the world.

          • "It wasn't a referendum on every aspect of this government, but it is an indictment of the loss of power and prestige to Canada, and this government is the only body with the responsibility of protecting our prestige and influence in the world. "

            You seem preoccupied with "prestige" and influence of Canada in the world. Now back it up! (This should be fun)

          • There's nothing to back up. Yes, I am concerned that as a sovereign nation amongst the 190-195 or so (depends on who's counting, and the exact definition) in the world we have enough power and prestige to be able to influence the outcome of events which have a bearing on our immediate and/or long term future. This includes trade rights, legal rights and less clear concepts like "values". I am absolutely preoccupied with these things, and I absolutely expect my government to be likewise preoccupied. Whether they are or not, they claim to be and what my vote based on "Standing up for Canada", or something like it.

            Now let's turn tables: you seem to be uninterested in the "prestige" and influence of Canada in the world. Now back it up! (while demonstrating how it's possible not to care while also care deeply about any other political issue) (This should be fun, too)

          • I copied and pasted a portion two of your posts the pattern is you suggest their is a loss?
            Even though I sympathize with the criticisms, those of us with the ability to take a balanced view recognize it as petulant, baseless whinging. Which is why Mr. Coyne may be correct on many scores, but the loss is still an embarassment and an indictment of the current government's misplaced, thoughtless priorities.
            Furthermore, I don't think I've read anyone on the "left" make the argument that Germany and Portugal are "more deserving", just that we have not made the case that WE are. And it should be stated: I don't take the UN votes for Portugal and Germany as votes against this government one bit, nor do most who seem to be critical. WE take them against the government, because what they represent is that those who voted against Canada evidently felt that there was no particular reason to vote FOR Canada's membership. It wasn't a referendum on every aspect of this government, but it is an indictment of the loss of power and prestige to Canada, and this government is the only body with the responsibility of protecting our prestige and influence in the world.
            Quantify the loss I am not convinced your opinion without the introduction evidence for scrutiny holds any merit.

          • :-)

          • Let me guess the dog ate it? :o

          • Well, I will take a stand as having been involved in a UN war, the Korean War, and other "peace-keeping" actions. International bodies are only as powerful to the degree that nations transfer some sovereignty to it., That weakness was shown in the League of Nations and now in the UN. This sense of internationalism has been the hope of left wingers, including those Canadians on the left and the left-wing Canadian governments – Liberal and the prime supporters, the CCF/NDP, for 60 years. I suppose that you might say it has worked, but I believe the nuclear stand-off had more to do with "non-war" in that period than all the efforts of the UN. Whatever was done was done more by the visible strength of the balancing powers. I also suppose that overt rejection by a country would do more harm than just letting iot die on the vine.

    • If I read you correctly, you seem to be saying that because we appeared to value the appointment as we pursued it (and indeed would have cheered had we won), it is hypocritical to now dismiss the appointment and claim the UN is corrupt and not very worthwhile. I don't think the change in perspective is problematical at all. In government (as in life) progress is iterative. You try something . . . it does not work out as you had expected . . . you evalutate, change your views, and do something else the next time. What's important is to look carefully at the real reasons for a loss and understand what might be done differently next time if it is still considered a worthy goal. And re-evaluating the goal itself is also very important.

      This issue has caused Canadians to pay a lot more attention to what is going on at the UN. This being our first loss, we sit up and take notice. Just a few years ago many Canadians were whole hearted supporters of UN-anything. I think Harper would have been pilloried had he decided not to go after the position on the SC. Actually I recall there was a hint of that — and great cries of outrage at the very suggestion that we might not compete.

      • Gosh it's nice to see that there are others capable of understanding what I thought was a pretty clear argument, and of advancing a perfectly defensible counterargument.

        You're absolutely right, of course, but yours is not the argument being advanced by the Conservatives, nor Mr. Coyne. It's still a loss, and it still would be possible to cast doubt on the endeavour and the results, but a thoughtful, not-terribly-partisan Prime Minister ought to say something along the lines of what you just wrote. Our Prime Minister and his colleagues did not do so, more's the pity.

      • I don't buy the navel gazing and decrying by usual suspects for the significance of a loss of a seat at the UN.

        This appears to be almost a cottage industry complainers how "we lost it" because of inaction, a setback or a government policy shift.

        THE DECLINE OF CANADA'S INFLUENCE IN THE WORLD — WHAT IS TO BE DONE FOR IT? http://www.irpp.org/po/archive/feb05/greenhill.pd

        Despite certain accomplishments over the last 15 years, the overriding theme from 1989 to 2004 is that of decline —decline in our reputation and relevance with the United States, decline in our leadership role in development, and decline in the international significance of our peacekeeping and other international security activities.

        Trudeau and Foreign Policy http://archive.peacemagazine.org/v17n1p07.htm

        • You are just perverse. You defend your claim that the UN seat is really unremarkable except for partisan advantage by confirming the criticisms you seek to delegitimize. I completely agree with you that this is not the frist and only event harming Canada's prestige/influence/standing. But this is a signal event with important implications which merely demonstrates the decline you speak of beyond doubt.

          So, are you agreeing by disagreeing, or disagreeing by agreeing?

          • Actually what took place what always does. As a poster you were asked for "PROOF" to back up your opinion. You chose to insult me because you could NOT produce actual FACTS to back up your opinion. (Usual pattern)

            I on the other hand can look to specific examples in our Canadian history that makes your opinion like most of the background noise inconsequential. I don't need a Liberal with cognitive dissonance explaining our the standing in the world. I did not drink the kool-aid.
            ("the loss is still an embarassment and an indictment of the current government's misplaced, thoughtless priorities. "it is an indictment of the loss of power and prestige to Canada, and this government is the only body with the responsibility of protecting our prestige and influence in the world. ) – Your noise
            You appear to be an unhappy person whose party, is gone, has lost or never held power and is unable to challenge the current government on issues that matter according to every election since 2006.

  22. First of all, great, column! I'm glad that are sane people in Canada, who have head on their shoulders (which also does some common sense thinking), and who don't scream that Israel, the only immoral country in the world and a danger to all mankind and their mothers, roasts Arabs for breakfast (and the countries who spew this propaganda usually are busy stoning women in the meantime).

    Second, I think the UN is just a reflection of the ugly, ugly, ugly most-of-the-world we live in. Most third world countries are not just financially poor, they are also morally depraved (and there is definitely a link between the two!) .

    • because "they" are FINANCIALLY POOR they are morally depraved. Haven't you noticed that societies with $$$ always take the high-road? oops, I guess that now the USA is becoming a 3rd world country, it's corruption will be rampant. Wasn't it the richest country in the world that got us into this mess to begin with? Doesn't take long to forget Enron, Lehman Bros, Bear-Stearns, the City, does it? But there is no law against greed is there?

      • it's because they are depraved that they are poor, generally. lots fo countries have lots of resources, and no resourcefulness.

        now, i suppose you are off to write something else on your american internet, then get into your american car to take you home from your american job so you can sit on your canadian high-horse.

        • it's easy to steal and be depraved when you are at the end of a barrel of a gun. Sold to you from a country that has "the right to bear arms" written into it's Constitution. oh, right, I'm a Communist. And what about Russia, China, Iran selling their tools of war? Come on, you are not that naive are you? And Mexico a "failed state"? Maybe if the pop. would stop using drugs then the Mexicans would stop killing each other? California Re-hab anyone? But Canadians are not that much different either. Don't worry .. be happy

    • "Most third world countries are not just financially poor, they are also morally depraved (and there is definitely a link between the two!) "………..

      So I guess we can assume you or no one you know is "poor"

      Do you think their is a link domestically as well?..or do you just apply this stereotype to "other nations"……. your opinion is just so appalling that honestly I am shocked by it…..

  23. It's not only about Canada's support of Israel, it's about Canada's knee-jerk, lock-step support of USA and Israel regardless of the world's view of the issues at hand and whether morally right or wrong. Canada's (read: Harper's) policy is also a reflection of the Christian right-wing undercurrent that informs everything Harper and his government does – not particularly well-received anywhere in the world except the USA. The vote was indeed no surprise.

    • oh no ! the scary old white man from Alberta party are going to change my Canada forever theory.

      Put down the Naomi Klein books and get some fresh air. Reality should not be avoided.

    • "Canada's knee-jerk, lock-step support of the U.S. and Israel"? Please, Canada is not exactly a pro-American bastion of U.S. supporters, especially when the Liberals are in power. If anything it seems that Canada usually attempts to take an opposite line than he U.S. in the name of an "independent" foreign policy. Newsflash: an "independent" foreign policy is not "independent" if it is dependant on what another country, namely, the U.S., does. Canada shouldn't just blindly follow American policy, but on the other hand it definitely shouldn't just blindly oppose it either. Canada should do what it feels is right for Canada based on the principles that it upholds as a civilized western nation, and if it aligns with another nation, it does, and if it doesn't, it doesn't.

    • The current U.S. administration is the least supportive of Israel since the Jimmy Carter years. Even Jimmy Carter was more supportive then after his presidency. I don't believe that the Obama administration reflects the majority of american opinion on this particular topic.

      I don't believe the Harper government's stance on Israel has been entirely one-sided without criticism. It is, however, a position that Israel has a right to exist, is a democratic "free" nation and has a right to protect itself from aggressors. Most of the Arab governments have the annihilation of the Jewish state as a campaign plank. The marxist states openly promote the extinction of Israel while most European countries would readily turn a blind eye to Israel's destruction. With America's current quietness on this issue Canada has become a lonely voice of support. This makes me a proud Canadian and sad at the state of the world.

  24. THANK YOU! For once a more sensible side focused on Canada and not on the politicians.

  25. How is the process at the United Nations any different than here in Canada. The conservatives clearly spend more "stimulus" money on ridings they know they can win. The only problem here is that Harper was met with people that knew the tricks of winning a democratic election and manipulating the electorate a lot better than he did. Conservative complaints about the loss of the security council seat sound very similar to the way liberals here in Canada complain about the way Harper handles elections and tries to buy votes with taxpayer money.

    • "The conservatives clearly spend more "stimulus" money on ridings they know they can win" and your proof is?

      Toronto, Windsor(most) and NFLD, ZERO seats had a large number of projects.

  26. I think the best policy for Canada is a policy in pursuit of truth, honesty, integrity, justice and fair play in it relations with the comity of world nations. If this policy is reflected in our relations with the member countries there is no reason why Canada wont shine again. To pursue policy seeking above goals you don't have to be a Christian, Muslim, Jew or Hindu etc. It is the imprudent approach of our government that has cost us the seat and now we say the grapes are sour.

    • "truth, honesty, integrity, justice and fair play in it relations with the comity of world nations."

      These traits don't win friends in a den of thieves. They will, however, result in getting you a knife in the back. That's exactly what Canada got and why we don't have a council seat.

  27. The idea that diplomacy is a zero-zum game is a bit misleading – that if we compromise or bow to others in attempts to gain favour that we lose something in do so is an oversimplification of the complex world of foreign policy. I can't disagree with Coyne's take on the UN, but the vote is a reflection of Canada's standing in the world and it unsettles me. As a small nation of waning influence, the fact that our 'principled' stand is losing international support can't be good for our agendas domestic or otherwise. Canada has lacked an effective foreign policy for the past 30 years and it is only getting worse. The more we are shut of discussions and lose our options, the more we stand to lose.

  28. I don't agree with your POV, but given your past writing the opinion is not a surprise. THAT said, I think all you have done is provided a convenient excuse for Harper's loss…..the fact is that HE wanted this and HE failed whatever you or he thinks of the UN or it's value.

    In other words, given your past stances, I get your POV and respect it…….but YOU would never have gone for the pitch in the first place now would you?

    • How can you be sure that HE wanted it? Flipping over the NYC from Toronto is not such a chore that HE might have done so to pacify some critics in his own constituency. Toute est la politique.

      • He is the PM…..or are you suggesting that the Prime Minister who all claim rules with an iron fist somehow in THIS instance alowed someone else to pull his strings on an issue as important as this? doesn't pass the smell test.

  29. really Andrew, sometimes you drive me "around-the-bend". I hope your pov is just your penchant for being a s**t-disturber and to raise controversy. Otherwise we are in trouble. Correction. We are trouble!! I used to think your colleague on the CBC/At Issue, Mr. Murphy was a bombastic, pompous a**. Better be careful or you will surpass him! kudos for CANADAFIRST. The UN may not live up to your high-expectations for the way mankind should conduct it's affairs, but I don't see anything else on the horizon to replace it. And who said democracy and fair-play is a given. That's why we make the attempt. No?

    • Well I have an idea. We could have a world wide lottery where we send the money that funds the UN to 100,000 randomly generated people. Then we could have an annual poetry competition with prizes for first, second and third place. We could call it "uniting the nations" or something. Then we could plant a tree. This could in fact replace the UN and achieve a lot more good.. It is just one idea but I am sure there are many more if we put our minds to it.

      • In other words, you are ignorant of what the UN does. Here, educate yourself: http://www.un.org/en/

        • This is what qualifies as education to you? LOL. It may come as a shock to you that someone could be aware of those few UN programs that might actually have some claim to being a benifit to humanity and still consider their outcomes to be so woefully lousy that the resources allocated could be directed to better places. Case in point: How much suffering could have been relieved by the money that was spent last year on the WHO created pandemic that wasn't? Why in fact did the WHO create the pandemic that wasn't? Structurally. If you don't know the answer to this question, it may be you who is need of education my friend.

          • You don't understand what the word "pandemic" means; it's a widespread disease, which H1N1 was. This particular pandemic killed 17,000 people in about 7 months.

          • We are off to Wikipedia now I see. I know that pandemic means widespread disease and that H1N1 illness probably met the technical criteria for pandemic. I have sat on pandemic planning comittees. My point was that the WHO manufactured a pandemic in a sociological and operational sense that demanded a world wide mobilization resulting in billions of dollars being spent to combat an influenza virus that epidemiology showed pretty much from the get go (e.g., Australia) to be a lame duck. Do you have any idea how many people die yearly, worldwide, from seasonal flu? Nonetheless, WHO ramped up their pandemic alert level to 6 and so doing diverted massive funds and energy. They did this for a reason that has little to do with public health and a lot to do with how large bureaucracies like the UN work. But I think you know that was the point. Shall we go on to discuss the largesse and succes of the IMF and the World Bank and my need to be educated from their websites on the blessings these wonderful institutions have brought to humanity?

  30. Those grapes were pretty sour, anyway.

  31. Personally I think the CPCers should do themselves a favour and put this behind them already.

    Every word out of their mouth sounds like an excuse, their airing our domestic political laundry in an international forum (yet again) is embarassing, while their total and utter lack of grace is appalling.

    I'm used to conservatives with self respect, common sense and a sober attitude. I like those types of conservatives and have voted for them often.

    These guys on the otherhand make me cringe on a daily basis.

  32. valid observation, however Harper made a point of standing behind his principles (wright or wrong in someone's view), probably knowing well in advance that they might cost him the vote. We should be trying to promote our values and not to compromise (too often) in order to win a vote from Libya and the likes.

  33. You know Harper's embarassed and reaching for excuses when he starts talking about "secret ballots" like it's some big conspiracy.

    Ever known a democratic vote that wasn't secret?

    Neither have I.

    So what's he saying?

    Are Canadian general elections suspect because our votes are secret?

    Oh I forgot, it doesn't have to be true, it only has to be plausible enough to fool the masses. Silly me.

    • He's saying countries pledged their support to Canada then voted for Portugal.

      • I know what he's saying technically, but he's trying to play it like a conspiracy against Canada and using the term "secret votes" like it's some clandestine cabal thingy we should all be soooo concerned about.

        As though we should be sagely bobbing our heads in agreement with the wisdom of his words. LOL

        I say enough with the excuses. You can't go around dissing the UN at every angle and acting high and mighty with other countries and think it's going to win you international votes.

        These guys are in over their heads and they obviously know it.

        • I don't see him saying it's a big conspiracy. He's saying countries told us they'd vote for us and then they didn't. Maybe these countries worked together on this, but that doesn't seem to be implied by Mr. Harper. Not sure how it's an excuse. Also, why do you believe these votes were motivated by a concern for the UN rather than the individual country's own narrower self interest?

          • I'm saying that Harper's political style wins him political enemies. I would think you'd agree with that, since the "principled stances" he's taken eschew the very notion of any reasonable middle ground.

            And I don't think the votes were motivated by a concern for the UN itself, but for the issues taken up by the UN for which many countries have vested interests, that our current government has lacked so much diplomacy on.

            Diplomacy doesn't mean abandoning values, it simply means finding what you do agree on and working on that first, with an eye to balancing the very important against the not so important.

            When you act high and mighty you tick people off, it's that simple. A little humility would goes a long way, but Harper has far too little to make a difference. IMO of course.

          • This was the first time Canada was in the position of facing a contested vote for a Security Council seat, because Germany decided to throw its hat in the ring out of turn. Do you think Germany was motivated by a dislike for Mr. Harper? And what was going on with those thirty countries that voted for Canada after we withdrew? Was it their own self-loathing?

          • You're missing my point. I'm not ascribing any nefarious motives to anyone in this process. Their votes are their own for their own reasons.

            It simply appears to me that Mr. Harper is however, through his tone and his need for excuses.

            This was a predictable result of the tough talk and hard stances Harper's taken since governing, and he is certainly not one to make apologies for that, which is a perfectly a legitimate stance, but not one you can expect great results from in a diplomatic forum.

            So frankly I think they were a bit naive to think this would work out for them, but be that as it may, they should move on and stop with the excuses, because anything they say now amounts to as much.

          • Aren't you saying countries were motivated by dislike for Mr. Harper and that this dislike comes from his disinterest in the United Nations plus some other unspecified foreign policy choices?

          • I don't think it's that cut and dry. I doubt their personal feelings really come into play much, it's more a matter of what they think Canada will or won't do for them under the current administration, and Harper's given us a pretty clear cut foreign policy with little room for nuance and even less for diplomacy.

            In other words I think they're assessing in a cool analytical way concerning what they think they can gain from voting for us, though in a few cases (the UAE and China comes to mind) there is probably some emnity at the moment.

          • It's worth remembering that this is the first time UN members were asked to vote for us. It's possible we'd have lost a contested election in any of those earlier years. Now you seem to agree with Mr. Harper on the substance: we have a clear foreign policy and some countries don't support our choices. We're not going to camouflage our choices for this year's Security Council elections.

            Which leaves you needing to explain which choices you would change and whether the ability to win this seat would be a suffficient reason to change them.

          • I don't neccesarily disagree with many of his goals, but Harper is too clumsy by half.

            We could achieve the ends we desire without acting so belligerently. It's not our way as Canadians to act like this. We are usually far more respectful and cautious, even to those we may dislike. In the past we seeked to change the things by demonstrating our principles not rubbing them in people's faces. Harper has changed this and calls it strength, but I don't see it as any such thing.

            Diplomacy is a game of sorts. If we intend to play at all we should show some nuance. For example our stance on Israel. Of course we support them, but do we have to be so one sided as to show no concern for the palestinians whatsoever? How does one bring someone around to being reasonable by spitting in their face?

            Before this I had assumed Harper had little if any interest in the UN at all, since it seemed obvious to me he was burning diplomatic bridges left and right.

            Now he appears to care what these same people think. It's odd to say the least.

          • What did we do that demonstrated no concern whatsoever for Palestine? Did Portugal and Germany act differently?

          • While I support Israel as well, it cannot be said they have not over-reacted in some cases, or that they are not baiting the Palestinians by continuing to building communities within their future state. This under cuts Israeli crediblity in terms of believing they even want a deal.

            So Harper has many harsh words for what the Palestinians must do, but he has none for Israel? It beggars credibility and makes his concerns appear one-sided.

            And in such a fractious volatile debate, choosing to back a side without qualifiers demonstrates how we currently approach such debates, and it's not a vote winner.

          • It's worth remembering that this is the first time UN members were asked to vote for us

            Actually, it isn't. I looked it up. The last two times Canada got into the UNSC, we were voted in. Last time, Canada and the Netherlands won on the first ballot, and Greece couldn't muster enough votes. The time before that, Canada and Finland got in, and Greece also lost that contest.

            I agree with the substance of your points, though. This is the first time Canada faced a hotly contested vote to get on the UNSC. The last two times were cakewalks, because Greece never had much support.

          • Thank you. I have had no luck finding this information – where does one look this up? Not apparently at the UNSC site.

          • I used Proquest's Canadian periodical database to search for relevant news articles about Canada's Security Council bids from 1998 and 1988. It's very convenient – I was able to find this information in two minutes.

            Proquest isn't available online for free, but if you have an account with a university library or a public library, you can usually access it online by visiting that library's website and logging on using your university ID or public library card.

          • Thanks – I miss ProQuest, there's only CBSA here (which I dislike so much I just plain forgot it existed).

        • "These guys are in over their heads and they obviously know it."

          The scary thing is they apparently DON'T know it.

          • They're playing to the crowd obviously. Playing dumb is a long held tradition of politicians in such circumstances. LOL

  34. If the UN Security Council is an anomaly and the UN General Assembly is a disgrace, why did Canada try so hard to become a Security Council member? Surely the Conservative government could have saved itself a lot of time and effort.

    And I can't help but think that many Conservative supporters would be saying more favourable things about the UN if Canada had won its bid for a seat on the Security Council.

  35. This is all sounding like sour grapes. Had Canada been chosen, I'm sure there'd be self-satisfied smirks all around, and heated debates about what 'our' policy, being selected, should be, this or that.

    It is not a badge of honour or dishonour. It simply does not matter, chosen or not.

    • d'accord.

  36. In my view, Canada's would-be representation on the UN Security Council is not one of democracy (at just 0.498% or 34.26 million to the entire world's 6875.1 million), nor of democratic preferences. It is rather one of how the rest of the world's governments as represented by members on the UN General Assembly seeks to influence decisions and resolutions at the UN Security Council through the election of its non-permanent members. It is really a product of accretion to being seen as trustworthy and competent of the role in which the seat is accorded direct influence under the governance system and design of the international law convention and forum. It is an embarassment to lose the prospect of the opportunities to influence at the council stage as a middle-power capable of arbitrating issues of global importance and advancing towards some common interest.

    Andrew Coyne's point of view is cynical, as much as Stephen Harper's is, because it neglects possibilities during a time of great transformation and deep reckoning, and who's saying we should not get out of their sun?

  37. I will wear no badge of honour for the war crimes inflicted by the Israeli or the Palestinian military groups. Get real with your biases, Canada as I recall it does not promote warring factions. Are you trying to buy votes somewhere Andrew??

  38. Shorter Andrew Coyne: I have no insight into why Portugal won this seat instead of Canada. But I don;t like the UN anyway.

  39. The world rejected Stephen Harper, will Canada do the same?

    • Nope, he is here to stay!

      • Snort.. he isnt here to stay forever. He will lose eventually… just a question of when.

        • I agree he wont stay here forever, but he will stay as long as he wants to, I honestly give it another 5 years easily, the longer the Liberal party doesn't make drastic changes, nothing will change, is not that I don't like Ignatieff is just that he is not going to be elected.

    • World as in dictators that represent a large number of voters?

      You mean the member states who want to erase the only democratic state in the middle east?

      Your "world" is an ugly place.

  40. Finally a sane and normal portrait of the UN Security ( rather INsecurity council)Council and our thankfully lacking role in same!

    Our values and principles have been espoused and our stable financial situation in face of world financial collapse and moral standards in the face of world terrorism by the countries that are in the self same council. Thank G-d they don't want us – we certainly don't want to be voted down constantly by them as we would be only one sane voice in a pack of wolves. We are far more powerful outside the INsecurity council than in.

    To quote Rudyard Kipling or Ecclesiastics in a place where there is no man – strive to be a Man. Canada is THE MAN

    We are PROUD of you CANADA and proud to be Canadian

    More power to you!! NOW—->

  41. The opposition parties are leaping on the wrong horse if they think this is going to make Canadians mad at their government.As a Korean veteran who took place in the first U>N> action now in my eighties I still see young Canadians running off to fight battles under the U.N . flag.Lets not talk domestic politics as the cause .This is a bunch of third world countries who are mad because we cut off the hand outs to a bunch of dictators and to a bunch of Muslim countries who are always working against us for our recognition of the state of Israel.As for Obama this tells it all another American President thinking he can bring peace to the middle east by the 50/50 method.He should have enough guts to tell those in middle eastern countries to show some sincerity in recognizing Israel's right to live in peace without the nut cases from Iran threatening their extinction .If the three opposition (Coalition) think this will go any place with the Canadian voter then force an election over it and you will soon get your answer or drop the B.S. Canadians do not like to hear those who serve our cause not to put the necessary effort into a seat we well deserve.The next time the U.N is looking for troops give them the Portuguese president's phone number

    • Well said.

      Thank you for your contribution to our country.

      Herbivores, fascists and left leaning socialists don't understand history. They believe greed does not exist in Russia.

  42. Thank you Andrew Coyne as usual with a deep analytical comment that most journalists miss.
    Canada has NOTHING to regret with our solid DONATION BASE to HAITI, to PAKISTAN, to AFGANISTAN and to COSOVO/BOSNIA and our solid committment to AFRICA.
    We are a large Country but a small population and to compare our Government to petty dictators on the United Nations is assinine

  43. Excellent column, Andrew. A welcome antidote to all the myopic navel-gazing and hand-wringing in the Canadian media in the last few days.

    • Wow, what a Harper Conservative Kool-Aid drinker you've become, CR.

      • How is the Marxist club coming along?

        • I don't know, you tell me, you seem to be obsessed by it, NonSense.

      • Just curious: Do you consider Andrew Coyne to be a "Harper Conservative Kool-Aid drinker"?

        I'm trying to figure out what provoked your ill-tempered response. I was agreeing with the points Andrew made, and if you check my comment history you'll find that I made many of the same points a few days ago.

        • On this issue, yes.

          • Seriously? I don't consider Coyne to be a "Harper Kool-Aid drinker" in any respect, and I think most fair-minded people would agree with me.

            Mulletaur, check out the excellent "In Conversation with Maclean's" from Vancouver a few days ago: http://www.cpac.ca/forms/index.asp?dsp=template&a

          • Perhaps I'm not fair minded, but I don't pretend to be. Coyne often criticises Conservatives, but almost always for not being conservative enough or consistently conservative, in other words, dogmatic in their pursuit of ideology. But he just as often carries the water of the Harper Conservative government and twists himself into pretzels trying to hide the fact that he's doing so. He's not even bothering to do so here, because he doesn't have to. What the Harper Conservatives hate, he hates too i.e. the United Nations. That doesn't change the fact that this was a defeat first and foremost for Canada, and secondly, although no less importantly, for Harper and his foreign policy.

          • But he just as often carries the water of the Harper Conservative government and twists himself into pretzels trying to hide the fact that he's doing so.

            Example? I can't think of a single thing Coyne has written that would justify this characterization.

            That doesn't change the fact that this was a defeat first and foremost for Canada, and secondly, although no less importantly, for Harper and his foreign policy.

            Nobody knows for sure, because it was a secret ballot, but I think the main reason Canada lost was because the Arab Bloc voted en masse for Portugal. The UAE was influential in campaigning against Canada's bid because of the failed airline negotiations, and the Arab Bloc was directly courted by Portugal while Harper ignored these countries. At the end of the day, Canada's pro-Israel foreign policy may have been the most significant factor.

          • You say nobody knows, and then you speculate on something you don't know. No different than what Coyne does in this article. And it amounts to the same thing : defending a Conservative defeat.

            I have pointed out in the past when I think Coyne's Conservative pettycoat is showing through a little too obviously, you just have to go looking for it.

          • No different than what Coyne does in this article. And it amounts to the same thing : defending a Conservative defeat.

            Note the part where Coyne cites former UN ambassador Paul Heinbecker and then says: "I have no idea if that's true". As you point out above, you don't pretend to be fair-minded. Coyne wasn't parroting Liberal attack lines and attacking Harper; ergo, he's defending him.

            Consider the possibility that Coyne is looking at this rationally and objectively, and you're the one who views everything through a partisan lens.

          • If you want rational and objective, Chantal Hébert occupies that territory all by herself.

          • Yes, her column is excellent.

          • Actually, I am in favour not being in the UAE good graces. The Saudis offered a way out, none of them took them up on it. I agree with Crit that Andrew, although on the Right, is fair and accurate. As far as having an opinion, I believe he gets paid for that

          • Everybody has an opinion. People read columnists and editorialists for analysis, not the sort of thing you could get in a bar room or from Conservative talking points.

          • According to the official, Cravinho impressed many IOC members through his assertion that Portugal backs the Arab Peace Initiative in the Middle East. First proposed in 2002, the initiative calls for a "comprehensive" regional settlement in which Israel would revert to its borders before the 1967 Six-Day War, which Israel says was a defensive action. http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2010/10/12/st

    • I agree CR, the funny thing is they think the more they write all that junk, is going to become the truth somehow, If Harper really thought we needed this or just if he wanted it, we would be there, the UN, my personal belief, is not like what it was meant to be.

      • My favourite line from Coyne's piece: "I don't know what's worse: the sort of self-absorption that believes the world revolves entirely around oneself, or the sort of adolescent insecurity whose self-esteem depends on being elected class prefect by the likes of Iran and Uzbekistan."

        • Good again.

        • Yes, so true!

  44. Wear a rejection by Muslims states with a Badge of honor???

    Hey American Journalinsts can shoot their mouths off about being Anti-Muslim – so why can't I!

  45. Could it possibly be the most right wing government this country has ever seen? Could it be the drastically different approach to foreign policy? Our new bull-in-a-china-shop approach to diplomacy? The fact that our govt has now become an unconditional ally to the most right-wing Israeli coalition govt we've seen in a long while? Our deliberate sabotaging maneuvres at the Copenhagen meeting? The fact that we have turned our back on the world's poorest in Africa? Deliberately locking horns (at times even insulting) with leading countries like France, Russia, China, Mexico and God only knows how many more to come?

    Not according to Coyne. We didn't do anything wrong. What's more, the UNSC is apparently beneath us, he says.

    What a joke. A sad one at that…

    • You are right we did not lock up the Pro Hamas-Fatah Hezbollah vote!

      We did not agree with giving India a permanent spot on the Security council.

      We did not agree to exclude developing countries like China, India from COP15 treaty. We demanded 3rd party audit. (The left leaning organizations blamed Canada)
      China+US account for 40% vs our 3% nice try.

      Africa was promised payouts from Robin Hood tax even Paul Martin did not agree.

      You are free to insult Canada as less deserving or not selling out their principles or abandoning their ally.

      I hope you join the next flotilla and join your brothers.

      • Here's the problem with this set of talking points:

        If this is truly how Harper felt about the UN, then why in God's name would he deliberately put himself in such a humiliating position by courting the very group he is now denigrating? He went as far as giving them bottles of maple syrup, for God's sake.

        I realize that being constantly surrounded by idiots might lead the Chessmaster-in-Chief to believe that everyone else is just as dumb but, unfortunately, Canadians are that stupid. We see this feeble attempt at saving face for what it is. Harper is so certain of his own supreme genius that he actually thought that he could fool the UN into voting him in. The man is clearly drunk off of his own Kool-Aid.

        And get it straight, CanadianSense. I'm insulting Harper, not my country. Harper is NOT Canada.

        • The left feel it is humiliating to be rejected by the UN. Regular folks are not paying attention and don't care.

          Small gifts, token of appreciation confuses you? You have never been to a trade show or Costco for a sample?

          I find it funny how the left feel it necessary to denigrate our PM because they did not vote for him or his party.

          Was our PM and the team naive to believe the written and verbal promises to support Canada? Possibly.

          Did we lose points for not being a pushover for the thuggish countries in the UN, hell no.

          Your tirade reflect the limited contribution of the U.N for it's inability to fix the Middle East conflict.

          You can't connect the dots that regular folks do. The U.N. needs reform and Canada would be an asset to help fix it.

          Feel free to denigrate our PM because you did not vote for him.

          When a soldier dies overseas of a mission you do not support, do you blame the soldier or mourn his loss as a fellow Canadian?

          Are you like those people who show up to the funeral of the soldier and protest?

          When Bob Rae got deported from Sri Lanka did our PM, government follow YOUR example?

          No they stood next to a fellow Bob Rae, Foreign Affairs Critic vs Sri Lanka.

          • Samples at Costco?

            I don't think that there is anything else to be said here… I didn't even bother reading the rest.

          • I agree you are unable to accept facts or evidence. Your hatred for the Conservatives outweighs any loyalty or respect for the office or government of Canada.

  46. I have no political position regarding the middle east. However, this article and particularly the last two paragraphs are the best work of jurnalism that I have red, and I read the Der spiegel, NYT and the Economist.
    Going to add Maclean's, now.
    It is the exceptional mind of yours(and the very few alike) which we need tun this nation.

  47. Has Canada ever faced a vote to be elected to the UNSC? The other seats this round were won by acclamation. It was only the Western Europe group that voted.

    • 1999 was no contest, 2 countries 'won' 2 available seats.

      • Thanks, I've had no luck digging that information up. Were you able to find an online source for it?

  48. I agree that it's a Good Thing that Canada did not get the seat, though for a different reason. The Stephen Harper Conservative government is, for the most part, incompetent. It is also embarrassing on the world stage. I am very glad that we do not have one of Harper's lapdogs representing us on the security council. Can you imagine?

    The reason this debacle has become such an … er … debacle, is not simply because we did not get the seat. It is because the government itself, starting with the Prime Minister, have fallen all over themselves, practically foaming at the mouth to lay the blame – ANYWHERE – but not on themselves and their policies and their long-held disdain for the UN. They even blame Ignatieff for musing on the government's record on issues that would tend to recommend Canada to the communities of nations. They should have simply shut up about it, taken their embarrassment, made a few comments of regret, congratulated Portugal and then zipped their lips. No, they have to turn it into a stick to batter their domestic foes. I have absolutely no idea who the opposition leaders are in most other democratic countries – and I'm sure other countries are barely aware of Ignatieff, let alone being influenced to not vote for Canada by his pretty mild remarks.

    Stephen Harper, for all his dishing out of insults, accusations, lawsuits, character assassinations – sure has a thin skin himself. His bullying, overbearing manner of dealing with political critics is matched by his whining, self-serving, blame-anybody-but-me flip-side. Not an inspiring leader of this country. And don't come back and tell me Ignatieff is "not-a-leader" because you don't know how he'd be as PM, we couldn't tell upfront what SH would be like – I thought he 'just' had his Reform hidden agenda, I didn't expect his outrageous character flaws. They have only emerged over time. He is a typical bully. Someone needs to really stand up to him and he'll crumble.

    So we're well out of the Security Council. Good. Let's have an election and finalize the rejection!

    • " I am very glad that we do not have one of Harper's lapdogs representing us on the security council. Can you imagine?"

      I agree. While I am sad that my country has officially lost its good standing in the world, I also think that allowing Harper a vote at the UNSC is the stuff of nightmares. I don't even want to think of the things he would have tried to push through if given that much power.

      It's bad enough that we have to endure his damaging policies in Canada, inflicting him on the rest of the world would just be plain irresponsible.

  49. It's a secret ballot Robert…..you know the thing Harper is crying about? so if HE doesn't know….how do you know?

  50. What Canadian really cares. The UN is just tax money wasted. They solve non of the worlds real problems. Lets concentrate our tax dollars to better Canadian lives. Time to decalre ourselves neutral and shrug off the worlds self afflicted wounds.

  51. Coyne's tortured attempts to spin a major defeat of the Harper government on the international scene into something to be shrugged off almost make one cringe.
    This was not as much a vote for Portugal as it was a vote of non-confidence in the present Canadian government's foreign policy. And it is not really a convincing argument to list other governments which are "worse" than that of Canada.
    After years of insulting the UN in words and deeds, Harper suddenly decided that a seat on the UNSC was worth an effort, and he, Cannon and his junior minister, visited and lobbied there.
    Haprper has destroyed Canada's international reputation through his dogmatic stance against ecologically sound policies, reduction in foreign aid, refusal to afford women elsewhere the same rights Canadian women are entitled to.
    Also, it was not Canada's support of democracy in Israel that upset others, but Harper's unquestioning backing of the civilian casualties caused by its wars on its neighbours.
    For Coyne now to bad-mouth the UN as a club we would not want to join is disingenuous.
    Either Canada wants to be part of the international community, warts and all, or it should not even try for a seat at the Security Council.

  52. Maybe the Canadian government should not allow one of their MPs accuse the Chinese government of running a hooker-spy agency…[youtube 8HoA-QYHoG8 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8HoA-QYHoG8 youtube]

    • THIS IS TRUE! Trust me it is. The "massage" is the #1 tool that they use. The Chinese certainly use women as a part of their array of shady tactics used to gain knowledge about for example, business or military information, as I have personally seen working here in Asia over the years. They are notorious for it, as anyone working in Asia in any official capacity can note.

  53. What evidence do you offer that Portugal even played this vote swapping game, or that it was what clinched it for Portugal over Canada, aside from your febrile imagination ? What would Portugal have to offer that Canada doesn't ?

    And then you go on to attack the United Nations as an institution.

    Don't try to justify or defend the Harper Conservative government on this, Andrew. You just lose credibility.

    • 2002 Arab Deal to redraw Israel land to before six day war.

  54. That was a freebie for the left leaning pundits to chase. Don't you get it?

    The PM has to throw a bone for the left to gnaw of every few weeks.

    It keeps the opposition busy in avoiding substantive issues that might trigger an election.

    • "It keeps the opposition busy in avoiding substantive issues that might trigger an election."

      Like, for example, how inept its government is, especially in international affairs.

      • You measure a vote for a security seat in the United Nations as a barometer of successful diplomacy of international affairs? WOW!

        You think the OIC voting Bloc of 50 nations share your values and beliefs?

        Are you suggesting Canada is less deserving than any of these?
        Gabon. http://searchingforliberty.blogspot.com/2010/10/u

        My standards are much higher. I expect the money we give in international aid be accountable an not wasted. I don't need validation by despots and thugs that make up the United Nations to be proud of Canada and the work we do. Do you?

        • "You measure a vote for a security seat in the United Nations as a barometer of successful diplomacy of international affairs?"

          Nope. Actually, it never crossed my mind before this display of incompetence. But, presumably, it occurred to some nimrod in the PMO. Otherwise, why'd they throw their hat in the ring?

          • Who exactly is calling this a crisis, a loss of face of epic proportions again?

            Your rationale than is because some "nimrod" in the PMO campaigned and lost a contest for a temporary seat in the U.N.?

            What specifically has you so bummed out? Is the chatter in your next cocktail party going to be affected?

            I don't get why your shorts are in knot.

          • Sorry, I can't speak for whomever is calling it a "crisis" or a "loss of face"…I didn't. I merely described it as a display of ineptitude. You go right ahead and dress it up in whatever way gets you through your day.

            And I'm not "bummed out" at all nor, when I last looked, were my shorts in a knot. If anything, I find the affair rather amusing, in a Leacockian sort of way.

          • We have different views, I will give concede naivety by our government in the machinations of the voting at the UN. You do realize they won power in 2006 and may lack the resources and expertise or interest in playing the old game of winning a security seat. Minor setback try again next time either way no loss of sleep either way. (for me)

            Did Cannon, Foreign affairs, the department over estimate the worth of written and verbal promises?

            According to our government+civil servants they had the numbers. It fell through. This would have been a feather in the cap for local pundits-politicians to (drive the crazy) in my opinion. Better parking, more cocktail parties. ( Sarcasm last two points)

            The Rob Ford campaign in Toronto is driving the left nutty?

          • "This would have been a feather in the cap for local pundits-politicians to (drive the crazy) in my opinion. Better parking, more cocktail parties. ( Sarcasm last two points)"

            Sorry again…your sarcasm(?) is totally lost on me here. I don't even understand the sentence, let alone its intent.

            And Rob Ford? WTF? There's some kind of parallel universe going on in your cranium that is simply mystifying to me.

          • Are you familiar with the Toronto Mayoralty race? Rob Ford is the anti-Christ for the Liberals -NDP in Toronto.

            The over reaction by the usual suspects in the left are decrying the security seat loss. This is of no significance to the majority of regular people.

            The chattering class, political junkies on the left are consumed with the embarrassment, prestige, reputation, appearance, standing as a result of Canada not winning seat at the UN.

            I don't think many of us centre, centre right share the incredible loss experienced by those in the left. I would imagine some of are more concerned about quantifiable things and accountability in delivering aid. How many wells, meals, roads, bridges, tents, vitamins delivered vs. how many cocktail parties we host.

            From what I read recently from the UN, reconstruction, aid is moving very slowly in Haiti.

          • Very eloquent and, once again, unrelated to my original comment. Do carry on, regardless…

  55. I'm surprised that Harper didn't produce a new tough-on-crime bill to divert attention for his humiliation.

  56. Great column. It begs some interesting questions though.

    The system of vote-swapping is eerily similar to the system of treaties and pacts that went into place prior to World War 1, a series of pacts which are credited with being the primary cause of the war. One country A guarantees solidarity with another country B. B has a pact with C. C and D have a pact with E. And so on. A crisis happens, and this series of side-deals triggers an unpredictable series of events.

    But the UN is supposed to be an antidote against the series of pacts that created WW1. Instead, it is not much different. There are blocs. There are side-deals. There are unsavoury exchanges. No wonder it is so ineffective at doing any good.

  57. Ignatieff was out of place making those comments and you can thumb me down as much as you want, that's politics and diplomacy 101, and he blew it big time, that's why MOST Canadian voters still see him as someone that doesn't belong in politics, having said that, it doesn't have anything to do with Canada getting a seat at the UN.

    • We need more non-politicians in politics not less. What a refreshing change it will be to have Ignatieff as PM.

      • You have to be kidding ??????????????????????

    • Agreed it would have made the Liberal messaging more effective to the already converted if they had not spiked the ball before the contest began.

      That being said I don't hold Ignatieff responsible for the loss. Ignatieff made a tactical mistake. Bob and Martha were sent out in damage control mode.

      I believe our PM went Rambo on Ignatieff in Italy when he was informed of some statement that Canada does not belong in the G8. (It was not Ignatieff and the PM apologized)

      • Canadian Sense, I agree with you with the Italy thing, it was wrong!

    • questioning and/or criticizing the government is part of a healthy democracy. we should be weary of anyone that condemns the practice.

      • I agree it is part of a healthy government but there is always a time and a place, and when it comes to Canada they need to put a united front, no matter what, all of them!

  58. And boy, are they expensive !!

    • And you don't pay fines with diplomatic plates.


      The ultimate handicap sticker.

  59. Mr. Coen, your comments would have been great coming from the government and given as their reasons for not, repeat, not trying to get the seat. Now, it sounds exactly like a very embarassing attempt at rationalization.

  60. I do hope you are right, in the example of Middle East peace, in implying that the game is only beginning. In that case, indeed, a security council seat is simply a shiny reportable object.

  61. For the record:

    Canada got 114 votes on the first round, 13 short of the required 127.

    Would we have gotten those votes if Ignatieff had kept his big mouth shut ?

    There is obviously no way of knowing. But as Coyne says, "they surely didn't help"

    • If Ignatieff's remarks, four weeks previously, had such an impact, then, obviously, we have the wrong person for a prime minister.
      Harper spoke to an empty UN Assembly Hall when he lobbied for votes.
      Most countries could not care less what a leader of an opposition party thinks, they are interested in what the government has/has not done.
      It's a silly attempt of blaming someone, anyone, for their shortcomings. By now, even Harper has dropped this inane argument.

  62. The UN is useless. It was meant to unite nations, but all it does is divide. Each country votes according to its own politics, not the good of the world. And the fact that Israel is the only country who is barred from sitting on the Security Council is outrageous.

    • Yup!

  63. The outcome of this event is obviously being spun in many contradictory ways, running the gamut from A) this is an embarrassing and humiliating defeat for Canada to Z) this is a blessed exoneration from a corrupt ineffectual council that is unworthy of our noble participation.

    In any event, it doesn't do much for Harper's reputation as the great chess master. He clearly misread the board and walked into a checkmate in this game.

    Those who would interpret the whole sequence as a brilliant and deliberate manoeuvre intended to cater to his supporters' antipathy toward the UN should be careful with this one. If that were true, it would expose his ruthless willingness to use international diplomacy as a means of manipulating domestic politics. He wouldn't do that…would he?

  64. Here, here to Coyne! The voice of reason in a sea of aged blow hards.
    Our foreign policy is our own, rightly established to serve the interests of CANADA.
    In the current world we must put CANADA first. In some cases allies, the UN et al be damned.
    We have grown beyond this adolescent notion about what everyone else thinks of us.
    Our time to rise is now. Our time to lead (based almost entirely on the resources the world covets) is now.
    Realpolitik dictates that CANADA does not need the UN.

    • Speaking of blowhards…

    • Actually, it's: "Hear, hear"!

    • I thought I heard stirring martial music in the background as I read this…which is kind of unsettling, actually.

      • Pay no attention to the man behind the trombone…

  65. It seems that Canadian conservatives and their sympathizers believe that the United Nations should only consist of nations who are mirror images of themselves. I would think the whole idea of United Nations is to bring together the whole array or world views and try to come up with solutions that are palatable to all or most. The conservative attitude is basically "if you're not with us – you're against us". This attitude divides people not unites them. This is abundantly clear with Harpers domestic agenda. Stop the ego tripping and juvinile blaming and grow up and get serious.

  66. I suppse AC's main point is that since our rejection had nothing to do with principle – either Harper's self- absorbed they hate us for our principles, or the oppositions assertion that the rejection must have exactly matched their agenda/wishlist – but rather was about the arguably corrupt little internal horse trading that accompanies these votes. It's a good point,although it ignores the margin of our loss.After that he gets sidetracked into a little anti UN tirade."What exactly do we have to show, after all, for our previous stints on the council? While we're at it, what does the Security Council have to show for its 64-year existence?"

    • First off didn't we get RTP and the landmines reforms through on our watch? Perhaps the council imperfect as it is at provided some kind of forum for the great powers to jaw, jaw, jaw as a great man said, instead of war, war, war? Are you seriously arguing that holding a postion of influence wouldn't matter in any case since the UN is such an imperfect body? "Unless, of course, neither man thinks it matters a whit in substantive terms whether we grab a seat on the Security Council, and this is all about domestic politics" I sincerely hope neither man shares your cyncism.

  67. You keep you socialists happy.

  68. We should not forget that the Security Council is the only organisation in the world whose resolutions are binding on all UN member countries. No other organisation has that clout, not the G20, not NATO, not the OECD. So SC membership IS very important.

    Since 2000 Portugal has been working hard to secure a seat on the SC. This does not just mean playing “you-scratch-my-back-I'll-scratch-yours.” It also means listening to representatives of other countries over a long period of time, and becoming aware of the issues facing smaller countries.

    In 2001 Chrétien announced that Canada would attempt to secure a seat, but all effort was stopped under Harper until very recently. This meant a halt to discussions with other countries on what Canada would bring to the Security Council, countries that are acutely interested in the direction the SC will take in the next two years.

    Unlike ANY previous Canadian PM, Harper has publicly expressed disdain for the UN.

    Also, Harper has the strange habit of talking down to people, including representatives of foreign countries, even countries much larger and more powerful than Canada. He may be personally unconscious he does this but the irritation is plain to see whenever he addresses other leaders (Copenhagen, Toronto) or does a side-by-side meet the press event (Cameron, Obama).

    What do you think other countries would have expected had Canada been given a seat on the Council? Do you think they would have expected a sensitive conciliatory, brokering middle power, i.e., the Canada of old? Or do you think they foresaw a new braggart Canada that would become even more conceited rigid and bombastic were it to sit at the Council table?

  69. It was foreign policy priority number one to win the vote. It would prove how great Canada's values were by showing they were a leader among the international community. The plan was to wear it as a badge of honour, that would deflect criticism of those policies.

    Now that we've lost the vote, we hear that it is actually in the rejection of our values by the international 'collection of kleptocracies and tyrannies' that we really prove how great we are. The true badge of honour, we're now told, comes by proving we are out of step with the international community.

    It is also childish and self obsessed to assume others are preoccupied with what we think when we lose such a vote. Which, I suppose, is why the Minister of Foreign Affairs held a press conference to blame the whole thing (back before we realized it was really a badge of honour) on a single (and possibly valid) statement from our opposition leader.

    As pointed out, Harper has no use for the UN. This was always about domestic politics for him. Maybe, in the end, that's why he/we didn't win.

  70. Best thing I have read on this issue. Thank you Andrew for providing some much needed perspective.

  71. It sounds to me like Harper and Cannon had trouble coming up with enough excuses for their diplomatic and foreign policy bungling, so Andrew tried to provide another one. It is very easy Andrew to find ways to criticize an organization like the UN. It's even easier to find reasons to criticize this government's foreign policy and diplomatic efforts, so why does your article contain none of this. Your suggestion that Harper can wear this defeat like a badge of honour is a specious one. If the UN really is as unprincipled as you suggest, imagine how Harper must feel knowing even THEY don't want him.

  72. David Frum hit on it perfectly today … it's the EU making a power play by hogging all the seats. The Western Europe and Others group could make the decision themselves, by only putting up 2 candidates, just as every other grouping only put up one candidate per spot. The last non-European candidate to win a seat on the UNSC was Canada in fact, back in 1998. Australia were denied in 1996 (last year they were on was 1986; they're making another run in 2012), and New Zealand were last on in 1994 (they're making a run in 2014). I would hope Australia would get it in 2012, as they've already been denied once. And then I think it's likely that New Zealand will be shut out in 2014.

    A third of the seats on the UNSC are held by European countries, and have been for the past 10 years, and that's ridiculous.

    And that line about how this is the first time that Canada has lost a bid for a UNSC seat? Check this out: it states that Canada withdrew after three unsuccessful rounds of voting in the 1946 UNSC elections.

  73. It's safe to say that backroom maneuvering has also played a part in getting a temporary seat on the Security Council, and yet Canada has succeeded consistently every 10 years. What's different about Canada this round?
    Canada's failure cannot be attributed to a block of angry despots alone.

  74. https://sites.google.com/site/thegospelaccordingt

    'We'll never sign agreement recognizing Jewish state'
    10/15/2010 19:15

    PA President Abbas meets with Hadash MKs; says any deal requiring recognition or land swap out of the question.
    Talkbacks (55)
    Any peace agreement which requires the Palestinians to recognize Israel as a Jewish state or an exchange of land is out of the question, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said Friday.

    In a Ramallah meeting with Hadash party Knesset members, Abbas said that it was now up to Israel to recognize a Palestinian state with 1967 borders, and that the PA had already recognised Israel back in 1993, thus negating the need for any further acknowledgment.

    Prime Minister Netanyahu said,"Palestinian recognition of Israel as a Jewish state is central to the dispute between us [and is necessary for its resolution]. If the Palestinians expect a national state, we can expect our own national state for the Jewish people."

  75. , what does the Security Council have to show for its 64-year existence?


    Resolution 1559
    the UN voted to disarm Hezbollah, and to have foreign troops removed from Lebanon. Hezbollah began a rocket firing campaign, abducted two Israeli soldiers from Israeli soil and tortured them to death.

    Land for Peace?

    Israel withdrew from Gaza and forcibly removed 8,000 Israeli settlers from Gaza, the Gaza Hamas fired over 10,000 rockets at civilian targets in Israel, killing hundreds. The terrorist aggression failed to elicit one vote of censure at the United Nations.

    Bosnian Muslims

    Some 30,000 Bosnian Muslims had gathered in early July 1995 at the UN military base in Potocari , a suburb of the Srebrenica,. for protection from advancing Serbian forces under the command of Gen. Ratko Mladic.

    But Mladic and his soldiers entered and told UN Dutch commander Karremans to hand over Bosnian men to his charge. On that fateful day, July 11, some 23,000 women and children were separated from their male relatives under the watchful eyes of the UN, and deported.

  76. Another careless report that Ignatieff 'said publicly that Canada had not “earned” a Security Council seat'.

    What Ignatieff said was that he wasn't convinced that the Harper government had earned the right to sit on the Security Council.

    I agree with what he did say.

    As for this evaluation of the UN, what do you suggest as an alternative, if any?

    • The sentiment is the same. People will read the remarks the same way. It was not prudent to speak out as he did.

      • For me, the sentiment is not the same. I think that Canada deserves the seat based on its history with the UN; the Harper government doesn't deserve the seat based on its history with the UN. It is a distinction with a difference that seems to have escaped almost everyone.

  77. In my view a lot of your criticisms can be explained by the unstable minority government situation. For example regarding: "most country's who decide to try for a turn plan a campaign for the seat three years in advance. " — this is not so easy to do if you do not know who the government will be 6 months down the line (or two months, or one month) That is why our "dirty laundry" is occasionally flaunted for all to see. Announcing the pull out of Afghanistan was also intended to appease the Canadian public, many of whom are opposed to our presence there. It is not that your suggestions are unreasonable — but for Canada to address these in a meaningful way in the context of an unstable government would be akin to attempting to graciously host a dinner party in the dining room while ignoring the fire in the kitchen. I don't expect to see the electorate take responsibility any time soon, nor the media drive a more sophisticated debate. Nice try, though.

  78. Having neviewed all tghe usual suspects of Harper haters, once again thank you ANDREW COYNE for a real analysis of the situation.
    The UN is a toothless tiger as evidenced by RWANDA/BOSNIA/SOMALIA and a dozen others.
    It is dysfunctional and overblown with political obesity.

  79. You're right, those grapes probably were sour anyway.

  80. boo hoo, who cares

  81. why someone will hate it ? i dont understand

  82. So, let's simplify this, just for arguments sake. If this were THE sandbox to be playing in…. wouldn't it dawn on anyone to THINK that maybe no one wants this guy (Harper) around anymore, and that maybe the United States did us a favour by not campaigning on our behalf, so that it would expedite an election to get rid of him. Or at the very least, give us an opportunity to elect a majority government and get us out of this stagnant rut.

    The seat on the UN may not be THE most important thing for Canada, but important enough to question the leadership and direction of this country particularly during a "global" economic recession. Important enough to be a part of a conversation that strives to improve international relationships.

    It's embarrasing because we just spent over a billion dollars to host the G8/G20 summit and in return we were just publicly snubbed.

    It really only matters to debate and speculate on which perception of the facts will prevail.

    See you at the polls.

  83. How much was spent trying to gain a seat on the Security Council – billions?

    • Depends if you count the G8/G20, I guess.

  84. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/opinions/opin

    Another pov from someone who's on the ground. Saunder's raises some interesting questions that AC should have little difficulty concuring with. Namely that the cons talk a good talk on principles but when push comes to shove often don't follow through.[ just like the old liberals often did]. When they do the're often as not in their own narrow parochial interests and not necessarily Canada's, or those of the international community[ the sane ones of course]

  85. As a diplomatic spouse, I suggest that Canada can signal its displeasure by using the “Letters of No Objection” issued by DFAIT Protocol to foreign missions in Ottawa. A diplomat or their family member here needs one to get things like a drivers license, or for a spouse to work without a work permit. The problem is that Canadian diplomatic families overseas in their countries seldom get reciprocal treatment. For spousal employment, Germany and France are the worst deadbeats, with the USA pretty close behind them. And you can guess how well UAE treats us. DFAIT rubber-stamps these things to curry favor. A lot of good it did us this time. But in the meantime, we're betraying our own people overseas – the resulting DFAIT attrition speaks for itself. I'm not saying that we punish these countries – just that we finally treat their diplomats the way they treat ours. This change is yet another example where DFAIT will require “strong direction” from the PMO.

  86. and would you have been 'OK" with winning one too……….and why?…
    ……and frankly I think Canada has lost more than just a security seat here…..but this is just an opinion….like most "news" nowadays

    • to be honest because we deserve it. Are you asking me why our team "over estimated the process" vs promises?

      You do realize we fell short with 114 votes on round one? Germany had 127 I think. You can review the machinations that our team was as prepared, committed, worthy. Losing a vote for a security seat does NOT mean it is a negative reflection on us as alleged by some. Do you suggest the contest that actually took place was based on MERIT?

      Have you seen the membership list?

      Seriously are you kidding me? http://searchingforliberty.blogspot.com/2010/10/u

      The question is would the Liberals have needed a dry cleaner for their blouse to win the seat?

      I have pride in Canada, at times we fall short in delivering aid effectively or demanding accountability at home or overseas. I think we have turned the corner with this Conservative led minority government. Investing-rebuilding in key areas including our military and families with the support of at least one other political party.

  87. Although I agree that the UN has many defects, it's the only worldwide body of its type that we have. Mr. Coyne, your attempts to downplay the significance of this event leave me wondering.

    We came in 3rd (out of 3!) because Harper and his bunch have repeatedly embarrassed us and alienated other countries on the world stage. The following foreign policy fiascoes come to mind:
    – Our foot dragging and obstructionism during the Copenhagen summit
    – Our withdrawal of aid from Africa
    – Our blatantly one-sided policy of sticking up for Israel no matter what the country does
    – Our refusal to accept responsibility for child soldier and Canadian citizen Omar Khadr

    The world can see that Harper is a trogoldyte. It's a pity that apparently we can't.

    • You are the trol

  88. You nailed it Shamwari! You might want to consider employment with MacLeans.

  89. "Ah, Israel. According to former UN ambassador Paul Heinbecker, Canada's current “pro-Israel” stance probably cost us votes among the UN's 57 Arab and Muslim members. I've no idea if that's true, but if so we should wear our defeat like a badge of honour."

    Because Israel can do no wrong. In fact, how dare anyone question Israel's decisions. Anyone who questions Israel's decisions and criticizes Israel for her policies is antisemitic. The Jewish State is infallible and can never be questioned. Long live Israel and her right to do whatever the hell she wants!

    • I fully support Israel. I think you stink.

  90. Bravo, Andrew! This is the first rational article I have seen in Macleans for awhile. The Liberals likely realize this but it's gaining them political points for the upcoming election.

  91. Why are we deserving of a badge of honour if the reason we lost the vote to Portugal is that under Harper we have asuumed a pro-Israeli stance? Are there perhaps more countries that earn its international supporters badges of honour or is it just Israel?

  92. I don't know what's worse: the sort of self-absorption that believes the world revolves entirely around oneself, or the sort of adolescent insecurity whose self-esteem depends on being elected class prefect by the likes of Iran and Uzbekistan.

    Well put. Personally, I couldn't be happier that we are no longer seen by other nations as the obedient, cooperative little country who can always be counted on to support every fashionably progressive posture adopted by the "international community". A door mat that reads "WELCOME" is still a door mat.

    • Exactly. I remember this basically being the inane theme of one of Naomi Klein's inane columns on foreign policy. She seemed to assume that the absolute and sole goal of our foreign policy should be not to offend anybody, ever. Presumably, this would have included Hitler in 1939.

      • Reminds me of a Toronto Star article I read shortly after Kevin Rudd became Australia's PM, and flew straight to Copenhagen to address the climate talks. I forget whether it was Susan Delacourt or Carol Goar, but it doesn't matter. They wrote about the standing ovation, and wave after wave of adoring applause that Australia earned by finally announcing it would be signing Kyoto and supporting the next round of climate talks. The author of that article rued, "All this could have been Canada. But it wasn't. It was for Australia." The whole climate issue was beside the point. What really mattered was that Canada was missing out on all the adulation. And here I thought that most people outgrew the need to be part of the "cool crowd" in adoloscence.

        • Our parents always taught us to be wary in wanting to be in the in or cool crowd as we might fall in with the bad/wrong crowd instead. What an apt lesson that one was.

          • I also find it interesting that it's well-established in psychological literature that one of the leading causes of low self-esteem among depressed individuals is an unhealthy obsession with what others think of you.

            On the other hand, those with healthy self-esteem do not obsess over what others think of them.

  93. Is it a disappointment that Canada did not get the seat? Of course it is! But is it worth crying over? Of course not! This is more of an added indictment of UN than Canada.