“Despite its peaceful reputation, Canada is not acting as a benevolent player on the international stage,” warns open letter from activists, artists, and academics.
As Canada vies for a temporary seat on the United Nations Security Council an open letter published Tuesday argues the Ottawa government—despite a more rosy reputation compared to its powerful U.S. neighbor—should be seen for what it more accurately is: a powerful international force in its own right that continues to play a negative role on the world stage when it comes to militarism and endless war, human rights abuses, environmental degradation both at home and abroad, and its outsized role in exacerbating the climate crisis.
“The international community should not reward bad behaviour,” the signatories argue in the letter and an adjoining online petition.
NO NO NO to Canada 🇨🇦 does NOT deserve a seat in UN Security Council https://t.co/Bg95FJ5Mom
— Kanahus Manuel (@KanahusFreedom) May 19, 2020
The signers of the letter—who include Harsha Walia, Noam Chomsky, Rogers Waters, Bianca Mugyenyi, Kanahus Manuel, Richard Falk, and over one hundred others—highlight Canada’s woeful silence and disregard when it comes to the abuse of the Palestinian people and the Israeli government’s most recent effort to annex the Occupied Territories of the West Bank.
As highlighted Tuesday by Michael Lynk, associate professor of law at Western University and special rapporteur for the United Nations Human Rights Council on the situation in the Palestinian territory, the government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has been noticeably absent even as countries like Ireland and Norway—which are also vying for the UNSC seat—have publicly spoken out against Israel’s efforts.
Where is Canada on such an issue of grave international importance? “I argue that Canada is missing in action,” wrote Lynk. “No public statements against Israel’s annexation proposal have been issued. No planned accountability measures have been floated. No criticism, however mild, has been offered.”
The open letter, also backed by 20 organizations, makes a similar critique. “In the Middle East, Canada has sided with Israel on almost every issue of importance,” the letter states. “Since coming to power the Trudeau government has voted against more than fifty U.N. resolutions upholding Palestinian rights backed by the overwhelming majority of member states. The Canadian government has refused to abide by 2016 U.N. Security Council Resolution 2334, calling on member states to ‘distinguish, in their relevant dealings, between the territory of the State of Israel and the territories occupied in 1967.'”
Canada’s foreign policy record should disqualify it for seat on UN Security Council. Open letter endorsed by David Suzuki, @RogerWaters, Noam Chomsky @Pam_Palmater @AntoniaZ @MoniaMazigh & 100 artists, activists, academics. Join at:https://t.co/xvO0lYvHNR #NoUNSC4Canada #cdnpoli
— Bianca Mugyenyi (@Bianca_Kabibi) May 19, 2020
While Canada is competing against Norway and Ireland for the two-year temporary seat—and with a vote scheduled for June—Trudeau has argued the nation’s leadership will be vital in the years to come as the world continues to grapple with the Covid-19 fallout.
But instead of upholding standards of international law and human rights, the letter contends that Ottawa and Trudeau have showed the opposite of leadership and accuses Canada of frequently echoing “Trump’s foreign policy” in the Western Hemisphere by backing “reactionary forces” in Latin America and defending Canadian mining companies despite allegations and evidence of fueling rights abuses and ecological damage in countries across the globe. For its disregard for the rights of First Nations and other Indigenous groups worldwide, the signers argue that Canada has failed to live up its promises both at home and abroad.
With massive oil, gas, and mineral reserves—including the Alberta tar sands—those objecting to Canada’s seat say that refusing to “keep Canada’s dirty oil in the ground” while at the same time operating as one of the world’s largest per-capita emitters, should be disqualifying.
“Despite its peaceful reputation, Canada is not acting as a benevolent player on the international stage,” the letter states.
It concludes, “Please vote against Canada’s bid for a seat on the UN Security Council.”
Read the open letter in full, along with signatories and supporting organizations, below:
CANADA DOES NOT DESERVE A SEAT ON THE UN SECURITY COUNCIL
Despite its peaceful reputation, Canada is not acting as a benevolent player on the international stage.
Rather, Canada ranks among the twelve largest arms exporters and its weapons have fueled conflicts across the globe, including the devastating war in Yemen.
In a disappointing move, Canada refused to join 122 countries represented at the 2017 UN Conference to Negotiate a Legally Binding Instrument to Prohibit Nuclear Weapons, Leading Towards their Total Elimination.
Ottawa has also been an aggressive proponent of the nuclear-armed NATO alliance, and currently leads coalition missions in Latvia and Iraq.
Echoing Trump’s foreign policy, Canada has backed reactionary forces in the Americas. The Trudeau government has led efforts to unseat Venezuela’s UN-recognized government, while propping up repressive, corrupt and illegitimate governments in Haiti and Honduras. Canada also lent its support to the economic elites and Christian extremists who recently overthrew the democratically elected indigenous president of Bolivia.
In the Middle East, Canada has sided with Israel on almost every issue of importance. Since coming to power the Trudeau government has voted against more than fifty UN resolutions upholding Palestinian rights backed by the overwhelming majority of member states. The Canadian government has refused to abide by 2016 UN Security Council Resolution 2334, calling on member states to “distinguish, in their relevant dealings, between the territory of the State of Israel and the territories occupied in 1967.” On the contrary, Ottawa extends economic and trade assistance to Israel’s illegal settlement enterprise. Should it win a seat on the UNSC, Ottawa has stated that it will act as an “asset for Israel” on the Council.
Canadian mining companies are responsible for countless ecological and human rights abuses around the globe. Still, Ottawa defends the most controversial mining firms and refuses to restrict public support for companies responsible for abuses. The chair of the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights criticized the Trudeau government for refusing to rein in mining abuses while the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and hazardous substances and wastes has decried the “double standard” applied to Canadian mining practices domestically versus internationally.
Falling short of its responsibilities as a global citizen, Canada continues to oppose the Basel Ban Amendment on the export of waste from rich to poor countries, which became binding in late 2019 after ratification by 97 countries. Ottawa also failed to ratify the United Nations’ Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. Ottawa has refused to ratify more than 50 International Labour Organization conventions. In November 2019, Canada once again refused to back a widely supported UN resolution on “Combating glorification of Nazism, neo-Nazism and other practices that contribute to fuelling contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.”
Violating the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the Trudeau government sent militarized police into unceded Wet’suwet’en Nation territory to push through a pipeline. The UN Human Rights Committee recently documented various ways Canada is failing to live up to its obligations towards indigenous people under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
Ignoring front-line victims, Ottawa refuses to keep Canada’s dirty oil in the ground. Canada is on pace to emit significantly more greenhouse gases than it agreed to in the 2015 Paris Agreement and previous climate accords. Already among the world’s highest per capita emitters, the Canadian government is subsidizing further growth of heavy emitting tar sands, at the expense of impoverished nations who’ve contributed little to the climate crisis but bear the brunt of its impacts.
The international community should not reward bad behaviour. Please vote against Canada’s bid for a seat on the UN Security Council.
David Suzuki, Award winning geneticist/broadcaster
Roger Waters, co-founder Pink Floyd
Noam Chomsky, linguist, author & social critic
Ellen Gabriel, artist and activist
Roméo Saganash, former MP Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou
Sid Ryan, former president of Ontario Federation of Labour and CUPE Ontario
Rawi Hage, novelist
Amir Khadir, former Quebec National Assembly member
Pam Palmater, Chair in Indigenous Governance, Ryerson
Judy Rebick, activist and author
Jord Samolesky, Propagandhi
Steve Ashton, long-serving member of the Manitoba legislature and cabinet minister
George Elliott Clarke, poet and professor
Mairead Maguire, Nobel Peace Prize co-winner (1976)
Trevor Herriot, author and activist
John Clark, activist
Charles Demers, comedian & author
Alain Deneault, essayist and philosophy professor
Martin Duckworth, laureate of the 2015 Albert-Tessier Prix du Quebec for cinema
Cy Gonick, former Manitoba NDP MLA and founding editor of Canadian Dimension
John Greyson, film-maker & professor
Syed Hussan, Migrant Workers Alliance
El Jones, activist, educator, journalist and poet
Gordon Laxer, author/founding Director Parkland Institute
Monia Mazigh, PhD, author and activist
Jim Manly, Member of Parliament 1980-88
Kanahus Manuel, activist
Tim McCaskell, educator & activist
Sheelah Mclean, co-founder Idle No More organizer
Serge Mongeau, author & editor
Mike Palecek, former National President of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers
Dimitri Roussopoulos, author, and long-time peace movement activist
Clayton Thomas-Müller – Director, Author, Senior Campaign Specialist – 350.org
Rinaldo Walcott, professor
Ingrid Waldron, author & professor
Harsha Walia, author & activist
Antonia Zerbisias, journalist & activist
Greg Albo, Professor of Politics, York University
August Arnold, journalist and author
Antonio Artuso, Front uni contre le fascisme et la guerre
Corey Balsam, National Coordinator, Independent Jewish Voices Canada
Nik Barry-Shaw, author
Corey Balsam, National Coordinator, Independent Jewish Voices Canada
Susan Bazilli, PhD – Director, International Women’s Rights Project
Ron Benner, artist
Karl Beveridge, artist
Raul Burbano, activist
Nancy Brown, teacher/librarian, peace/human rights activist
David Camfield, activist and academic
Stefan Christoff, artist & activist
Carole Condé, artist
Gerry Condon, Veterans for Peace (US), former president
Deborah Cowen, Professor, Department of Geography and Planning, University of Toronto
Raju J Das, York University
Judith Deutsch, academic
Gord Doctorow, educator
Martine Eloy, antiwar and human rights activist
Darren Ell, Photographer
Gary Engler, author
Yves Engler, author & activist
Joe Emersberger, author
Richard Falk, Professor of International Law emeritus, Princeton University
Kiran Fatima, co-chair Toronto Association for Peace & Solidarity
Richard Fidler, Author and Activist
Miguel Figueroa, President, Canadian Peace Congress
Don Foreman, Canadian Union of Postal Workers
Alan Freeman, author & economist
Gavin Fridell, Canada Research Chair and Associate Professor in International Development Studies Saint Mary’s University
Dr. Todd Gordon, Associate Professor, Wilfrid Laurier University
Peter Gose, Professor Emeritus of Anthropology Carleton University
Harry Glasbeek, Professor Emeritus and Senior Scholar, Osgoode Hall Law School
Tracy Glynn, activist and writer
Cory Greenlees, activist
Malcolm Guy, documentary film director/producer
Michael Harris, author
Jamelie Hassan, artist
David Heap, teacher-researcher; peace & human rights advocate
Evert Hoogers, CUPW (retired)
Pierre Jasmin, artiste pour la paix
Dru Jay, author & activist
David Kattenburg, University instructor & journalist
Kathy Kelly, Voices for Creative Nonviolence (USA)
Gary Kinsman, activist and author
Harry Kopyto, legal activist
Jonathan Kuttab, International human rights lawyer
Dimitri Lascaris, lawyer/journalist/activist
Ed Lehman, Regina Peace Council
Raymond Legault, activist, Collectif Échec à la guerre
Tamara Lorincz, PhD candidate and member of the Canadian Voice of Women for Peace
Martin Lukacs, journalist
Eva Manly, retired filmmaker
Robin Mathews, author
Amy Miller, filmmaker
David Mivasair, retired rabbi
Bianca Mugyenyi, activist, former Co-ED The Leap
Elizabeth Murray, former Deputy National Intelligence Officer for the Near East, National Intelligence Council (ret.)
Dr. Susan O’Donnell, researcher, writer and activist
Nino Pagliccia, activist and freelance writer
Dr. Idrisa Pandit, academic
Brent Patterson, activist
Justin Podur, author and professor
Judi Rever, journalist and author
Karen Rodman, human rights activist
Richard Roman, retired professor, writer
Reuben Roth, Professor
Herman Rosenfeld, Socialist Project
Grahame Russell, Co-Director – Rights Action
Joan Russow, activist
Sakura Saunders, activist
Harold Shuster, Independent Jewish Voices-Winnipeg
Ken Stone, President – Hamilton Coalition to Stop the War
Donald Swartz, Carleton University
Koozma J. Tarasoff, peace activist
Marianne Vardalos, PhD Department of Sociology
Jay Watts, co-chair Toronto Association for Peace & Solidarity
Paul Weinberg, author
Barry Weisleder, federal secretary, Socialist Action
Elizabeth Whitmore, activist
Ellen Woodsworth, writer, organizer and former Vancouver City councillor
Dwyer Sullivan, board member – Conscience Canada
Dr. Thom Workman, professor, University of New Brunswick
Ann Wright, retired US Army Colonel and former US diplomat.
Confédération des syndicats nationaux (CSN) – Conseil central du Montréal métropolitain
Independent Jewish Voices/ Voix juives indépendantes
Mouvement Québécois pour la Paix
Hamilton Coalition To Stop The War
Council of Canadians – London Chapter
Canada Palestine Association-Vancouver
International League of Peoples’ Struggle
Just Peace Advocates/Mouvement pour une Paix Juste
Canadian BDS Coalition
Canadian Boat to Gaza,
Freedom Flotilla Coalition
Gaza Freedom Flotilla Australia
Regina Peace Council
The petition will be delivered to UN member states prior to the vote for the security council seat in June.
*If your group or organization would like to endorse the open letter, please write to us at [email protected]
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