Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Peacekeeping, Foreign Aid at 'Core' of UN Security Council Bid: Envoy

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Peacekeeping, Foreign Aid at 'Core' of UN Security Council Bid: Envoy

Article excerpt

Peacekeeping, aid at 'core' of UN bid: envoy

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OTTAWA - Foreign aid and the future role of the Canadian Forces will form the backbone of the country's bid for a seat on the Security Council, says Canada's ambassador to the United Nations.

Marc-Andre Blanchard tells The Canadian Press that's part of the reason why the government has embarked on major reviews in two key areas of foreign policy: international development and national defence.

Blanchard says it is still early days in what will be a four-year campaign for the 2020 vote, a bid to secure a two-year term on the UN's most powerful body that would begin the following year.

Still, he says, the groundwork is currently being laid, by both the internal policy reviews, and the early interactions of diplomats on ground.

Blanchard says he's had more than 50 bilateral meetings with fellow ambassadors at the UN since taking up the post earlier this year, and for now he's in a listening mode to get feedback about Canada.

He says the country faces a tough fight against two like-minded countries and allies -- Norway and Ireland -- when 2020 rolls around, so work is underway to carve out a platform that can highlight Canada's comparative advantage.

"We are in the phase of engaging with member states, asking for support, but also listening to them about their views on Canada," Blanchard said in an interview.

"We think it's important that before we come out with our own platform that we listen to countries, to be responsive."

In 2010, Canada lost to tiny Portugal in Security Council voting in what was then widely seen as a repudiation of the then-Conservative government's foreign policy, which had tilted towards Israel in the Middle East and was perceived as being indifferent to Africa.

The current development review, to be tabled in the fall, will lay out a five-year spending plan that is expected to show how Canada would try to meet the UN target for development spending -- 0.7 per cent of gross national income -- that it has never reached, and that only five countries have.

The defence review will also be looking at how to implement a campaign promise to return Canada to its UN peacekeeping roots after more than a decade of war-fighting in Afghanistan. …

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