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)

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

A member of the Okanagan Mission Secondary School community has tested positive for COVID-19. (Google Maps)
Another COVID-19 case confirmed at Okanagan Mission Secondary school

Interior Health has confirmed a member of the school community tested positive for the virus

A concept rendering of the proposed Costco at the corner of Baron, Leckie and Springfield roads. (WSP Global)
Contentious Kelowna Costco relocation moved to public hearing

Costco looking to move less than a kilometre away to build a larger store with more parking, gas bar

A man wearing a face mask to help curb the spread of COVID-19 walks in downtown Vancouver, B.C., Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020. The use of masks is mandatory in indoor public and retail spaces in the province. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
104 new COVID-19 cases in Interior Health

IH is reporting the new numbers since Friday, Nov. 20

Vernon-North Okanagan RCMP Const. Samantha McClellan (left) and Staff-Sgt. Jeff Faulkner (right) accept a bag of dog treats from Vernon’s Marco Lavigne at the Cram The Cruiser fundraiser event in support of the Pet Soup Kitchen Tuesday, July 27, at Vernon’s Healthy Spot Pet Nutrition and Siupply. (Roger Knox - Morning Star)
RCMP to host annual ‘Stuff the Cruiser’ event safely amid COVID-19

The event will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 28 at Kelowna RCMP Detachment at 1190 Richter Avenue

People wearing face masks to help curb the spread of COVID-19 cross a street in downtown Vancouver, on Sunday, November 22, 2020. The use of masks is mandatory in indoor public and retail spaces in the province. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. reports 17 COVID deaths, 1,933 new cases as hospitalizations surge over the weekend

There are 277 people in hospital, of whom 59 are in ICU or critical care

An aerial shot of Cedar Valley Lodge this past August, LNG Canada’s newest accommodation for workers at the project site in Kitimat. This is where several employees are isolating after a COVID-19 outbreak was declared last Thursday (Nov. 19). (Photo courtesy of LNG Canada)
Forty-one positive COVID-19 cases associated with the LNG Canada site outbreak in Kitimat

Thirty-four of the 41 cases remain active, according to Northern Health

7-year-old Mackenzie Hodge from Penticton sent a hand-written letter to premiere John Horgan asking if she’d be able to see her elf, Ralph under the new coronavirus restrictions. (John Horgan / Twitter)
Elf on the shelf an acceptable house guest B.C. premier tells Okanagan girl

A 7-year-old from Penticton penned a letter asking if she’d be allowed to see her elf this year

Workers arrive at the Lynn Valley Care Centre seniors home, in North Vancouver, B.C., on Saturday, March 14, 2020. It was the site of Canada’s first COVID-19 outbreak in a long-term care facility. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Rapid tests ‘not a panacea’ for care homes, Dr. Bonnie Henry says

B.C. lacks capacity for daily tests of thousands of workers

(Delta Police Department photo)
Cannabis edibles found in Halloween bag lead B.C. police to illegal lab

Delta police arrested a man and a woman while executing a warrant at a residential property Nov. 20

RCMP pictured at a motor vehicle incident during snowy conditions. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
B&E, stolen car in Vernon lands Whitehorse man in cuffs

Suspect takes off on foot in attempts to evade arrest

Penticton Search and Rescue along with the Penticton Fire Department located and airlifted an injured 21-year-old female hiker Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020. (Mike Biden photo)
Penticton search and rescue airlift injured hiker off mountain

There has been an unprecedented amount of calls for search and rescue this year

Salmon Arm RCMP nabbed two Calgary suspects in an allegedly stolen vehicle on Highway 1 on Nov. 22, 2020. (File photo)
Salmon Arm RCMP use spike belts on Highway 1 to nab Calgary suspects

Arrests occur after Revelstoke RCMP clock allegedly stolen vehicle going faster than 160 km/h

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Most Read