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

Leadership transitions at the College of the Rockies

Paul Vogt steps in to lead the College as former president David Walls retires

Council approves new policy for reserve, surplus funds

Cranbrook city council has approved a new reserves and surplus policy, which… Continue reading

Jill Carley new vice-principal at Mt. Baker Secondary

Following the announcement of a new principal for Cranbrook’s high school, a… Continue reading

Council signals interest in interim national auxiliary constable program

Cranbrook city council has expressed interest in continuing with an interim national… Continue reading

Cranbrook city council approves agreement with RecycleBC for curbside collection

Cranbrook city council has taken another step towards curbside recycling collection, unanimously… Continue reading

21 new COVID-19 cases confirmed in B.C. as virus ‘silently circulates’ in broader community

Health officials urge British Columbians to enjoy summer safely as surge continues

Tough time for tree fruits as some B.C. farm products soar

Province reports record 2019 sales, largely due to cannabis

‘Let’s all do a self-check’: Okanagan mayor reacts to racist vandalism targeting local family

Home of Indo-Canadian family in Summerland was targeted on evening of July 13

Province agrees to multimillion-dollar payout for alleged victims of Kelowna social worker

Robert Riley Saunders is accused of misappropriating funds of children — often Indigenous — in his care

B.C. businessman David Sidoo gets 3 months behind bars for college admissions scam

Sidoo was sentenced for hiring someone take the SATs in place of his two sons

PHOTOS: Inside a newly-listed $22M mega-mansion on ALR land in B.C.

The large home, located on ALR land, is one of the last new mansions to legally be built on ALR land

Thousands of dollars in stolen rice found in B.C. warehouse

Police raid seizes $75,000 in ‘commercial scale’ theft case

COVID-19 gives B.C. First Nation rare chance to examine tourism’s impact on grizzly bears

With 40 infrared cameras deployed in Kitasoo-Xai’Xais territory, research will help develop tourism plan with least impact on bears

NDP wants Lower Mainland MLA removed from BC Liberal caucus for alleged homophobia

BC Liberal leader, some MLAs apologize for Christian magazine ads but Laurie Throness doubles down

Most Read