Canada's loss of UN Security Council seat a blow to Trudeau
TORONTO (AP) - Justin Trudeau came to the world stage in 2015 with rock star popularity. He declared "Canada is back" and made winning a seat on the powerful United States Security Council a top foreign policy priority.
But Canada lost in a three-way race for two seats against Norway and Ireland this week. It was Canada's second consecutive loss in the application for a seat and a particularly hard blow for Trudeau.
"There is no doubt that this is not the result I was hoping for," said the Prime Minister one day after Wednesday's vote.
Trudeau blamed the loss for Canada's late launch in the campaign for the seats. Norway and Ireland announced their candidacy for the seats long before Trudeau was elected in 2015. He then announced Canada's intention to apply.
"The reality was that after five years we had a delay that we couldn't overcome," said Trudeau. He gave no other reasons why Canada lost.
The loss was particularly embarrassing because Canada is an economic power plant, part of the G7 and a member of NATO.
Some US diplomats say Canada has had a good campaign, perhaps the best, but they added that governments have a lot of other considerations when voting at the United Nations, especially by secret ballot.
As part of North America, some experts say Canada is suffering from its geographical link with the United States, although Trudeau and President Donald Trump often don't see issues like free trade and climate change as being on an equal footing.
It had also supported Israel towards the Palestinians in the General Assembly, an attitude that has not gone unnoticed by the Arab League and the larger 57-member organization for Islamic Cooperation, although there was a sudden shift in November when Canada supported Palestinian self-rights - Determination.
Canada has also contacted China and Japan.
Nelson Wiseman, a professor of political science at the University of Toronto, said the failure to secure a seat on the Security Council was "a major blow to Trudeau, although the result is not surprising".
"Trudeau may be popular with women when he travels abroad, but that doesn't cut the US politics," said Wiseman. "Canada is back, as Trudeau says, but at the end of the line."
Because of the Security Council's mandate to ensure international peace and security, winning a seat is seen as the culmination of achievement in many countries. It gives them a strong voice on crucial issues such as sanctions and war and peace, which range from conflicts in Syria, Yemen, Libya, Africa and Ukraine to the nuclear threat posed by North Korea and Iran to attacks by extremist groups.
Trudeau attempted to sell Canada's offer by finding that the multilateral system is being questioned by large countries that are withdrawing their support for engagement on the world stage. He said the world needed medium-sized countries like Canada to defend them.
"We will continue to be committed to multilateralism," he said. "For many, many countries around the world, it is also important that Canada remains present in the defense of multilateralism."
Robert Bothwell, professor of Canadian history and international relations at the University of Toronto, said the loss was "a blow to Trudeau because he set it up".
Canada has lost for a number of reasons, including the fact that its neighbor is the United States and has had little success in "connecting" with other countries. He also said that European countries usually support others in Europe and Arab countries tend to vote for Israel.
It is not known how Japan voted, but Bothwell said Trudeau was likely to upset Tokyo when he delayed the signing of the Trans-Pacific Trade Agreement.
Relations between China and Canada are also low. Chinese prosecutors accused two detained Canadians of spying on Friday to pressure Canada to drop a US extradition request for a leader of Chinese technology giant Huawei, which is under house arrest in Vancouver.
Bothwell also said that Chrystia Freeland, Canada's deputy prime minister, had no interest in the United States during her tenure as Secretary of State.
Canada's loss came in the first round of the United States General Assembly election, in which 192 of the 193 member states of the United States cast secret ballots for five new members of the Security Council.
Canada required 128 votes - two-thirds of the assembly's voting members. Norway crossed the threshold with 130 votes and Ireland received 128 votes. Canada stayed behind with 108 votes.
Trudeau actually ended up with fewer votes than Canada's former prime minister, Conservative Stephen Harper, who was preserved in 2010. The Trudeau liberals, who were in opposition at the time, blamed conservative foreign policy for the previous failure.
Norway and Ireland will serve on the Council for a two-year term on January 1, along with India and Mexico, which have won undisputed seats, and Kenya, which defeated Djibouti in a second round of elections on Thursday.
The respected columnist Paul Wells wrote a sharp reprimand from the current government in Macleans Magazine.
"To believe that Trudeau would fall from the sky because he was not Harper was an expression of the narcissism and superficiality that shaped this government during much of its term," wrote Wells.
United Nations associate press clerk Edith M. Lederer contributed to this.
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