United States ambassador to the United Nations, Kelly Craft, right, casts a vote during U.N. elections, Wednesday, June 17, 2020, at U.N. headquarters in New York. Norway and Ireland won contested seats on the powerful U.N. Security Council Wednesday in a series of U.N. elections held under dramatically different voting procedures because of the COVID-19 pandemic. (Eskinder Debebe/UN Photo via AP)

Canada loses bid for seat on the United Nations Security Council on first vote

Norway and Ireland got the empty seats instead

Canada has lost its bid for a seat on the United Nations Security Council, losing to Norway and Ireland on the first ballot.

Canada’s loss came in the first round of voting Wednesday in a secret ballot of 192 member states of the United Nations General Assembly for two available seats on the council for a two-year term starting next year.

It follows the loss by the former Conservative government of Stephen Harper in 2010, and after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau declared Canada’s candidacy once the Liberals came to power in 2015.

Canada needed 128 seats — or two-thirds of the voting members of the assembly. Norway passed the threshold with 130 and Ireland garnered 128 votes.

Canada fell short with 108 votes.

Earlier Wednesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said even if Canada lost, it would continue its international efforts to fight against climate change, economic inequity and preserving the world’s increasingly fragile institutions.

Norway and Ireland had an advance start in campaigning because Trudeau only announced Canada’s intention to seek a seat in 2015 after the Liberals were elected.

Trudeau dismissed suggestions that a loss for Canada would be a political failure for him personally, given the capital he has invested in the bid — starting with his “Canada is back” declaration the day after he won the October 2015 federal election.

Trudeau said his government has been engaged in a wide range of international activities and groups because he said that is in the interest of all Canadians, who need global trade and economic success everywhere so they can succeed at home.

“These are the things that we will continue to do into the future, regardless of what happens this week. But it certainly would be nice to have that extra lever of a seat on the Security Council,” Trudeau said.

ALSO READ: Jagmeet Singh removed from Commons after calling BQ MP racist over blocked RCMP motion

Canada’s campaign for the council has focused heavily on what it has been doing in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. That has included convening like-minded nations to ensure food security in developing countries, keeping vital supply chains open across the globe, and working on new financing models to help struggling countries whose economies have been decimated by the pandemic.

European countries were expected to unite around Canada’s two competitors, which forced the Trudeau government to focus on Africa, Latin America, and Arab nations, as well as the small island states of the South Pacific that face potential extinction one day from rising sea levels caused by climate change.

But Norway and Ireland both spend more on international aid and contributions to UN peacekeeping missions — two criteria that were widely seen as essential in winning a seat on the council.

Trudeau levelled veiled criticism at the UN’s geographical organization that has placed Canada in a grouping against European countries, which can never agree on two candidates for the temporary seats on the council.

“I have nothing but respect for our two competitors, Ireland and Norway, that have demonstrated an engagement in the world,” he said. “It is unfortunate that we’re in a situation of having to compete against friends for this.”

ALSO READ: B.C.’s wild seafood exports snagged in Beijing’s recent COVID-19 panic

Independent Sen. Peter Boehm, who lobbied small island states on Canada’s behalf, questioned in a recent interview whether Canada belongs in the Western European and Others Group, or WEOG, the UN geographical bloc that Canada has been assigned.

“WEOG is sort of a lonely place for Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Israel. We don’t really fit,” said Boehm, who was Canada’s ambassador to Germany in 2010 when the European powerhouse won a seat alongside Portugal, vanquishing Canada in its last attempt for a seat on the council.

Boehm said Canada belongs in the Group of Latin American and Caribbean Countries, which is less competitive and makes more geographic sense for Canada.

One analyst expressed concern that there has been too much focus on Trudeau’s political fate in the UN bid.

“This is not a leaders’ popularity contest; it is about perceptions of Canada’s effectiveness on the world stage compared to Norway and Ireland. Canadians can vote on Trudeau in the next federal election, and we need to remember this is a vote for Canada and not our PM,” said Bessma Momani, an international affairs expert at the University of Waterloo.

Mike Blanchfield, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

CanadaCoronavirusUnited Nations

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Horgan makes campaign stop in Terrace and Kitimat

BC NDP leader met with local First Nations leaders, reiterated campaign promises

Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Sept. 27 to Oct. 3

World Farm Animals Day, Drink Beer Day and Virus Appreciation Day are all coming up this week

‘Monkey Beach’ supernatural film adaptation premiers at VIFF

Based on Kitamaat author Eden Robinson’s debut, mystical novel

COVID-19 cases grow to 13 at B.C. First Nation near Fort St. James

“This is very serious,” says Nak’azdli Whut’en Chief

Ecosocialists nominate candidate for Stikine

Edward Quinlan is the new party’s regional director for Skeena and Bulkley Valley regions

QUIZ: Do you know what’s on TV?

Fall is normally the time when new television shows are released

The holiday everyone needs this year: Vote for your favourite in Fat Bear Week 2020

Voters will get to decide who gets to take home this year’s most coveted prize

Canadian ski resorts wrestle with pandemic-vs.-profit dilemma as COVID-19 persists

Few are actually restricting the total number of skiers they allow on the hill

Victoria-area RCMP locate high-risk sex offender thanks to help of taxi cab driver

Scott Jones wanted on a Canada-wide warrant, ‘a risk to women and girls,’ police say

A (virtual) walk around the world by 88-year-old B.C. man

George Doi says it’s simple: ‘I like walking’

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

End of CERB means uncertainty for some, new system for others

As of a week ago, the CERB had paid out $79.3 billion to 8.8 million people

Horgan, Wilkinson trade barbs over MSP premiums, health care at campaign stops

Horgan called a snap election for Oct. 24 earlier this week

Most Read