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Friday, February 12, 2016

Canada to Seek Seat on Security Council


Written By: The Associated Press
Originally published February 11, 2016

Canada plans to make a bid for a seat on the UN Security Council, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Thursday as he hosted UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon.

At a news conference in Ottawa, Trudeau said he has indicated to Ban that Canada wants to “re-engage robustly” with the United Nations and the global community.

That includes “looking towards a bid for the UN Security Council," Trudeau said.

In 2010, Canada lost its bid for a two-year council term to Portugal, even though it held a seat at the table off and on for six decades. Critics blamed the historic loss on Stephen Harper’s Conservative government, saying that it failed to make a strong bid.

Paul Heinbecker, a former Canadian ambassador to the UN, said Canada’s frosty relationship with the organization dates back to 2006 when a Canadian peacekeeper was killed during the Israeli-Lebanese war.

“The loss of the Security Council seat, I think, was indicative that the contempt that the Canadian government was manifesting for the UN was being reciprocated by the UN members,” Heinbecker said on CTV’s Power Play Thursday.

“They preferred a bankrupt Portugal -- a country they knew was bankrupt -- to a solvent Canada,” he said.

Heinbecker said former prime minister Harper “basically snubbed” the UN multiple times by choosing to not show up to events.

“I think what we saw today with Ban Ki-Moon and Prime Minister Trudeau in their press conference was a much warmer relationship, a much more enthusiastic relationship.”

Ban said he welcomes Trudeau’s plan and called Canada “one of our most important partners.”

He credited Trudeau’s leadership with helping secure the “breakthrough” global agreement on climate change reached at the Paris summit in December.

Ban also “highly” applauded Canada’s ongoing efforts to bring in 25,000 Syrian refugees.

Ban said he and Trudeau had a “very constructive exchange” Thursday on a number of issues that also included global security and Canada’s contribution to UN peacekeeping missions, which has fallen from around 3,300 troops in 1993 to just 113 today.

The UN chief also seemed to nudge Trudeau to boost Canada’s international aid spending for poorer nations.

“I’m sure that Prime Minister Trudeau and his government will pay more focus on this matter,” Ban said.

Both Ban and Trudeau expressed their outrage over recent allegations that UN peacekeepers sexually abused underage girls in the Central African Republic.