Posturing UN Security Council is the essence of Trudeau’s politics

Kelly McParlandKelly McParland

The chief attraction is the opportunity to deliver stirring declarations on matters of high principle, regardless of whether action ensues

After three years of observing Justin Trudeau’s approach to prime ministering, it should be obvious to Canadians why the Liberal leader puts such weight on obtaining a seat on the UN Security Council.

It’s a temporary position, lasting just two years. It’s one of 10 secondary seats, subservient to the five permanent members — China, Russia, Britain, France and the U.S. — that enjoy veto power. It’s mostly symbolic, given that any of the five can arbitrarily overrule the other 14. The chief attraction is an opportunity to deliver stirring declarations on matters of high principle, regardless of whether concrete action ensues.

It is, in other words, the essence of Justin Trudeau’s personality and politics.

The prime minister has been campaigning for the next available seat since he took office. He publicly declared his intentions in March 2016 after a visit to Ottawa by the UN secretary-general. “It’s time for Canada to step up once again,” he proclaimed, echoing the Liberal contention that Canada had somehow ceased to exist as a country of note during the previous decade of Conservative rule.

In support of Canada’s application, he cited its acceptance of more than 25,000 Syrian refugees. Perhaps it’s too cynical to suggest that Trudeau’s much-covered photo op at Toronto’s Pearson airport, where he personally welcomed the first planeload of arrivals, handing over warm clothing and snuggling youngsters, was part of an effort to establish early bona fides as a caring, concerned member of the international community.

But after hitting the goal of 25,000 — after deciding to include private sponsorships in the total — the Liberals largely lost interest, earning a rebuke from auditor general Michael Ferguson for their failure to follow through on promises to monitor the arrivals and assist their integration into Canadian society.

And while Canada accepted more refugees in 2018 than any other country, the total came to just 28,000 out of 71 million estimated to have been displaced around the world. The number of Syrian refugees alone has ballooned to 6.7 million, and could soon be challenged by the surge of Venezuelans fleeing the chaos of the Maduro regime, four million of whom have passed into Colombia and other South American states.


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