*** More proof that the CONservative govt. is an embarassment to Canada on a global scale, having actively undermined our once-respected reputation. Mr. Harper and the CON govt. are squarely to blame. Worse, they QUIT. MS ***
UNITED NATIONS (AFP) - Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon on Tuesday blamed his government's "not always popular" foreign policy and internal political squabbles for the country's unprecedented loss of its bid to sit on the UN Security Council.
"The principles underlying our foreign policy such as freedom, democracy, respect for human rights and the rule of law, were the basis for all of our decisions," Cannon told a press conference at the United Nations.
"Some would say that because of our attachment to those values that we lost a seat on the council. If that's the case, then so be it," he said, appearing uncharacteristically agitated.
It was the first time since the creation of the United Nations that Ottawa has suffered such a humiliation.
"It also did not help that our opponents could point to the fact that for the first time in Canadian history, Canada was not united in its bid," Cannon added.
Last month, while Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper made a pitch at the United Nations for a rotating seat on the Security Council, opposition leader Michael Ignatieff questioned whether Harper's government deserved it.
"This is a government that for four years has basically ignored the United Nations and now is suddenly showing up saying, 'Hey, put us on the council," Ignatieff said.
"I know how important it is for Canada to get a seat on the Security Council but Canadians have to ask a tough question: Has this government earned that place? We're not convinced it has."
Canada had been in contention with Portugal for the last of two seats available for Western Europe and a group of other western nations.
Canada withdrew after a second round of voting at the UN General Assembly in which Portugal led by 120 votes to 78 but did not secure the required majority for victory.
Cannon said he felt that Ignatieff's aberrant criticisms, of "not being able to speak with one voice as a country... did have a negative effect on the Canadian campaign."
This explanation was dismissed by analysts interviewed by AFP.
"I don't think that UN General Assembly member states paid any attention to Michael Ignatieff's criticisms," said Jonathan Paquin, a Canadian foreign policy expert at Laval University in Quebec City.
"The failure to secure a seat or the fact that Canada withdrew from the competition to save face is a slap in the face to its foreign policy over the past few years."
University of Ottawa law professor Errol Mendes echoed the view about the failed bid, saying "the reasons have nothing at all to do with Michael Ignatieff's comments."
More likely, they said, the vote result was meant to protest Harper's radical change in Canadian foreign policy since coming to power in 2006, from intermediary to asserting itself on the world stage.
"We seem to have distanced ourselves from others' concerns on the international scene and become engaged in a way that is very different from how we presented ourselves in the past," Paquin explained.
"Canada is no longer the international mediator that once sought to find common ground between warring states, but is now a player on the world stage taking self-interested positions on issues and being more forceful in asserting its opinions," he said.
The Harper administration's strong support of Israel, for example, has probably not been helpful in securing support from Arab nations for its bid, Mendes said.
In refocusing some of its aid from Africa to South America, Ottawa likely lost support from African countries but did not gain enough offsetting support in Latin America, where many nations have strong historical ties to Portugal.
Canada's seeming foot-dragging at the Copenhagen conference on climate change also upset many European countries. "Not only was this not helpful, it was a spoiler," said Mendes.
In the end, "we wanted a good global citizen ... and we judged that Portugal was a better one than Canada. It's as simple as that," Paquin concluded. <<<-- That's the part that makes me wanna cry. Could anyone ever expect such words to follow in succession to make that sentence???