Sep 19, 2017


By Ken Pole

Canada will continue to push for one of the temporary seats on the United Nations Security Council when it becomes open in four years, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau reaffirmed Sept. 19.

Asked during a news conference what Canada could “offer” in return, he replied that Canada had “re-engaged on the world stage” since his Liberal government was elected 23 months ago. That included “important international military engagements” in northern Iraq and NATO’s eastern front in Latvia.

“Being part of the UN Security Council in 2021 will ensure that an important voice gets heard and resonates around the world,” he added. “So, yes, we are continuing to feel that and to make the case that Canada should have a seat . . . and we continue to engage in conversations in that direction.”

A Security Council member six times, most recently in 1999-2000, Canada’s 2010 bid for another two-year term by the former Conservative administration of Prime Minister Stephen Harper was thwarted when European interests lined up in opposition. Trudeau gave notice immediately after the Conservatives’ ouster in October 2015 than he would seek a seventh term.

Pressed on the issue of UN peacekeeping, notably his administration’s announcement last year that it would be deploying more troops, most likely in Africa, he said any government needed to take “extremely seriously the responsibility involved in sending Canadian troops potentially into harm’s way around the world.”

He reiterated that Canada has “an important role to play” and would be re-engaging with UN efforts. That said, “Canadians expect us to make the right choices, to do right by the service and the opportunities afforded us by the extraordinary men and women who serve in our forces . . . and when we make that determination, we will let you know.”

Trudeau also was asked about the even more immediate issue of North Korea and U.S. President Donald Trump’s threat earlier in the day before the UN General Assembly that the U.S. would “totally destroy” North Korea if forced to “defend itself or its allies” against Kim Jong Un’s nuclear-capable regime in Pyongyang.

“I share everyone’s concern . . . and continue to believe that working with partners and allies in the region and around the world, including China, Japan, South Korea, and the United States is the best way to de-escalate this situation. . . .

“We will continue to take very seriously our – our responsibilities as a country that stands strongly for peace and harmony in the world, to push, along with the international community, against North Korean behaviour.”

As for whether the evolving intercontinental ballistic missile threat from Pyongyang might justify Canada reversing its decision not to be a partner in the U.S. missile defence umbrella, the PM demurred.

“We continue every day to engage with our partners and allies, especially NORAD where over 300 Canadians serve in the joint command that is unique in the world to defend North America’s continent,” he replied.

“We continue to evaluate and assess how best to protect Canadians from around the world. This is something we take very, very seriously, and we will continue to engage in ongoing reflections about how to best . . . protect Canadians. We have not changed our position at this point, but we continue to engage in thoughtful ways to ensure we’re doing everything we can.”

– Ken Pole