by Khadijah Ali (Special Reports, Crescent International Vol. 49, No. 5, Dhu al-Qa'dah, 1441)
Canadian human rights activists have called on the Liberal government to re-evaluate its foreign policy options in view of its failed bid for a United Nations Security Council seat. They have launched a campaign that has already been endorsed by a number of prominent Canadians and others seeking a complete review of Canada’s foreign policy especially relating to its support of Israel and failure to support Palestinian rights.
The review campaign has gained traction in light of Canada’s failure, for the second time in a decade, to secure a two-year non-permanent seat at the 15-member United Nations Security Council table. Competing against Norway and Ireland for the two seats, Canada came a distant third in the June 17 vote.
Canada has served on the Security Council six times before and had earned a reputation as a peacemaker. Its conduct was often contrasted with its more belligerent southern neighbor, the US, that has attacked weaker countries killing millions of innocent people and destroying the victim societies’ infrastructure. Far from condemning US aggression, over the last 20 years, Canada has willingly joined Washington’s wars in distant lands.
It is, however, Canada’s abandonment of Palestinian rights that has irked most Canadians. A poll, conducted by EKOS Research Associates (co-sponsored by Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME), Independent Jewish Voices Canada (IJV), and the United Network for Justice and Peace in Palestine-Israel [UNJPPI]), showed many Canadians want the government to increase its support for Palestinian human rights.
“The poll also found three out of four Canadians want their government to express opposition to Israeli annexation [of the West Bank], while almost half support going so far as to impose sanctions on Israel,” said CJPME in a statement issued on June 17. A similar poll in October 2017 found 67% of Canadians oppose Israeli policies and want the government to reflect this in its policy.
In recent years, Canada has consistently voted against UN resolutions which validate Palestinian rights. Examining Canada’s voting record at the UN, International Human Rights lawyer, Dr Jonathan Kuttab pointed out that “since 2000, it voted ‘No’ to 166 different General Assembly resolutions on Palestine,”.
Ireland and Norway, that won Security Council seats, consistently showed different position on issues pertaining to Palestine. “Dublin and Oslo have been overwhelmingly supportive of Palestine at the UN.
“They voted ‘Yes’ 251 and 249 times respectively on resolutions related to Palestinian rights since 2000. Canada voted ‘Yes’ to 87 similar resolutions, but a whopping 85 of those were from 2000 to 2010,” Dr Kuttab pointed out.
Canada’s other problematic policies include support for US-backed coup attempts in Venezuela and Bolivia, illegal sanctions against Venezuela, Iran and Syria and continued sale of military weapons to such human rights abusers as Saudi Arabia despite strong opposition from most Canadians. Ottawa has recognized the illegitimate US-appointed Venezuelan puppet, Juan Guaido as the Latin American country’s ruler despite support of the overwhelming majority of Venezuelans for elected president Nicolas Maduro.
In 2014, Canada supported the coup in Ukraine bringing a neo-Nazi to power. And it also played a central role in forming the Lima Group in 2017, when Chrystia Freeland was still Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister.
Soon after being elected Prime Minister in October 2015, Justin Trudeau announced that “Our message to the world is, Canada is back.” Not only Canadians but many people around the world welcomed Trudeau’s fresh approach and reposed much hope in his words. Alas, he has failed to match his words with deeds.
It was this failure that resulted in the campaign urging UN members to not vote for Canada. Spearheaded by such human rights organizations as Just Peace Advocates and the Canadian Foreign Policy Institute, they argued that Canada’s record on both domestic and foreign policy issues disqualified it for a Security Council seat. Ottawa’s mistreatment of Indigenous people at home and kowtowing to US imperialism and support for Zionist Israel’s oppression of Palestinians abroad were two of the main planks of this campaign.
“The Trudeau government’s anti-Palestinian voting record at the UN undoubtedly contributed to its failure to gain a seat on the Security Council,” said Karen Rodman, Director of Just Peace Advocates, a Canadian human rights organization. “Those who support Palestinian rights should rejoice,” said Ms. Rodman whose organization had spearheaded a three-week campaign urging UN ambassadors to not support Canada’s bid until it demonstrates respect for international law.
On a visit to Israel in November 2018, then Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland had publicly declared that Canada would be “an asset for Israel” at the Security Council table. Most Canadians were offended by such obsequious behavior toward Zionist Israel especially in view of its well-documented record of abuse, torture and murder of Palestinians under occupation. International human rights organizations have repeatedly pointed to such abuses yet Canada chooses to side with the oppressor that routinely subjects Palestinians to abuse.
“By rejecting Canada’s Security Council bid the international community also delivered a blow to the Israel lobby”, said Ms. Rodman. “The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs and B’nai Brith shouldn’t be determining Canada’s voting at the UN,” the Canadian human rights activist emphasized.
“Canada’s failure to gain a seat on the Security Council is a major blow to Justin Trudeau’s government,” said Bianca Mugyenyi, Canadian Foreign Policy Institute national coordinator. “But the loss is a victory for those seeking a more just Canadian foreign policy.”
Will the UN loss force re-appraisal of Canadian foreign policy or Trudeau will continue to kowtow to Israel regardless of the price Canada has to pay? Most Canadians certainly want change; only time will tell whether the government will respect their wishes.