I like Canadians. They’re like Americans with manners. They have sometimes been criticised as a colourless people, the cold winters perhaps making their yesses “yes” and their noes ‘no”- probably before their lips freeze – a people of robust opinions but often economical with words, lacking the flamboyance, even hypocrisy of their southern neighbours.
This does not sit well in the UN, it seems, since Canada at the weekend decided to drop out of the race for a non-permanent seat at the UN Security Council since after the last round of voting the General Assembly put it in last place among the contenders. Canadian media believes its support of Israel is the primary reason.
Canada has long held a non-permanent seat at the Security Council. But with current Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s consistent support for the Jewish state at the world body, the non-aligned movement of nations, which are a Muslim majority at the UN, began to bare their teeth.
Toronto Sun columnist Peter Worthington wrote on Sunday that “Canada’s unqualified support for Israel under Harper worked against us at the UN, which regularly condemns Israel for policies it ignores in other countries.”
Bravely, Worthington decried the hypocrisy that rules the UN, noting that “while the UN regularly votes in favour of human rights, roughly half of the 192 member states abuse human rights in some form in their own countries.”
He concluded by condemning the UN as an institution that had long ago abandoned its position as a credible and objective broker and protector of peace and human rights, and wondered “why decent countries still pay attention to it.” Muscular indeed, if a little politically naive. It remains to be seen how Canadian voters will react.
Countries that did make it on to the Security Council included Lebanon, which with Hezbollah’s growing power and influence is an Iranian satellite, also Brazil, which has aligned itself with Iran in its nuclear arms race. Canada is fast learning what most Israelis have known for a long time – that economic and political stability, dedication to human rights and basic human decency don’t mean jack at the UN. It has long struck me that the UN as an institution is a puppet show of spectacular and convoluted magnitude. Shadowy figures who rule with fists of iron send their most siren voices, clothed in some semblance of democracy to Manhattan to gather whatever political momentum they can.
The speaker at the podium, however, is no siren voice. He isn’t Canadian and his country probably has nuclear capability. And will someone please buy the wretched man a tie.