Justin Trudeau’s government refuses to support United Nations votes to make the world more just and less dangerous. Ottawa’s record on the General Assembly’s largely symbolic resolutions strips away Canada’s progressive veneer.
Three weeks ago Canada was one of six countries to vote against a General Assembly resolution affirming the rights of Palestinian refugees to their properties expropriated by Israel while 152 nations voted for it. Isolating Canada from world opinion, Ottawa voted against almost all the UN resolutions upholding Palestinian rights presented during the General Assembly’s latest session.
The Liberals claim they vote against upholding international law for a people dispossessed by a UN imposed partition plan on the grounds they don’t want to “single Israel out”. Nor do they want to single out neo-Nazism, global inequity or nuclear weapons.
Earlier last month the Liberals voted against a resolution titled “Combating glorification of Nazism, neo-Nazism and other practices that contribute to fuelling contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.” It passed 120 to 50. Since 2012 Ottawa has opposed or abstained on a similar Russian-sponsored resolution each year.
On December 14 the Trudeau government also voted against “Towards a New International Economic Order”. The resolution criticizing negative capital flows and indebtedness in the Global South passed 123 to 50. Canada has long voted against efforts to democratize the global economy.
The Liberals have also voted against a slew of resolutions seeking to ban nuclear weapons. Three weeks ago Canada voted against a resolution supporting the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. It passed 115 to 43. At the same time Ottawa joined the US, Israel, Marshall Islands, Micronesia and Palau in voting against a resolution calling on Israel to give up its nuclear weapons and sign the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) while 149 countries voted in favour.
Since voting against an August 1948 call to ban nuclear arms Canada has opposed many resolutions targeting these dastardly weapons. In Just Dummies — Cruise Missile Testing in Canada John Clearwater writes, “the record clearly shows that Canada refuses to support any resolution that specifies immediate action on a comprehensive approach to ridding the world of nuclear weapons.”
Over the years Canada has repeatedly been on the wrong side of history with General Assembly votes. As independence struggles grew, Ottawa opposed many anticolonial resolutions at the UN. Canada voted against a 1948 resolution calling for the withdrawal of Dutch troops from Indonesia and in autumn 1952, notes Towards a Francophone Community: Canada’s Relations with France and French Africa, 1945-1968, “voted against all the resolutions introduced by African and Asian states that urged France to recognize the independence of Tunisia and Morocco.” In 1957 Canada opposed a resolution calling for African independence “at an early date”. It passed 38 to 13 with 11 abstentions. Canada also opposed a November 1965 resolution on white-dominated Rhodesia that was adopted 82 to 9 (with 18 abstentions and Britain staying away). In winter 1973, Canada opposed a resolution that challenged Portugal’s claim to represent Angola, Mozambique and Guinea Bissau at the UN. The vote passed 94 to 14 with 21 abstentions.
Canada’s voting record in the General Assembly reflects this country’s position vis-à-vis the US empire, white supremacy and global capitalism. Rather than supporting the sort of rules based international order it claims to uphold, the Trudeau government’s record at the United Nations reveals Canada’s long standing and current support for a world dominated by a wealthy minority. Ottawa’s failure to support even largely symbolic social justice-oriented resolutions highlights the deeply regressive nature of Canadian foreign policy.