108 vs. 130 and 128. This was Canada’s vote count after the June 17th United Nations Security Council (UNSC) vote against Norway and Ireland.
The five-year campaign to get Canada back on the security council has ultimately failed, just shy of 20 votes. We as Canadians had high hopes, hoping to return to the table to help influence global policy to pave a better path forward. But Norway and Ireland—both of whom were campaigning nearly a decade before Canada jumped onto the campaign path—had crafted a much more forward-looking and coherent foreign policy, have provided larger amounts to foreign international development compared to Canada, and have been more present and involved in UN-related discussions, especially in the area of peacekeeping.
However, as with any failure, there’s an opportunity to take this as a lesson and learn from our mistakes. Prior to this vote, foreign policy hardly ever broke the top 10 priorities for Canadian voters based on a recent article written by CounterPunch Magazine. However, in recent days more Canadians were disheartened by the loss of the UNSC vote and have gone as far as creating a campaign through the Canadian Foreign Policy Institute (CFPI) urging Prime Minister Trudeau to fundamentally reassess Canadian foreign policy.
One of the beliefs behind the loss is Canada’s over reliance on Washington to drive foreign policy and falling in lockstep with their positions and stances. This was a failure that was highlighted back in 2010 with the Stephen Harper bid for a UNSC seat which ultimately failed. The clear signal that global leaders are sending to Canada is that Canada needs to find its identity once again. We were once seen as a peacekeeping nation, a pluralist society, a country that was proud of our ability to stand for what was right and to voice our concerns when allies and other countries were doing things seen as wrong. But since then, we’ve seemed to have lost our identity. We’ve lost what makes us Canada. We’ve become entrenched with visuals and appeasing our friends even when we know our friends are wrong.
But now is the time for Canada to shed the skin of others and wear our own skin high and proud. Now is the time to rediscover our identity and stay true to it. Now is the time to stand tall and stand for people all around the world while others run and turn inward. Now is the time to build back Canada better.
This can all start with our international response to COVID-19. We need to ensure that vaccines are accessible to all and that means Canada needs to commit much more to the global response than the current $850 million pledged. Vaccine procurement for Low-Middle Income Countries (LMIC) will cost anywhere between $24-60 billion, with estimates that the final amount will fall closer to the latter. We also need to ensure that our support for economic recovery globally is strong and proactive by leveraging our nation’s strong innovation and health sectors. We must not allow a defeat at the voting table to curb our commitment and willingness to play our part in the global response.
Without our continued commitment to ending poverty, millions of people in developing countries will pay the price of our disengagement. Canada thrives when we work collectively to extend a helping hand to our neighbours, allies and friends.
Let’s continue to show that as the EWB community-we care! Let’s show the world that CANADA Cares! With your help, we can help reform Canada’s foreign policy and this is the first of many steps that we can take!