Canada’s ambassador to UN throws “Hail Mary” pass to save UNSC bid. Will he score a touchdown?

In what appears to be a last minute attempt to save Canada’s bid for a UN Security Council seat, Marc-Andre Blanchard, Canada’s Ambassador to the UN has sent a letter to (all?) other UN Ambassadors defending Canada’s position with respect to Israel/Palestine. The UNSC vote will be held on June 17th. In his letter, Blanchard responds to a “letter from a group of Canadians” criticizing Canada’s position. Read more…

A football team which finds itself behind in the last few minutes of a game will sometimes attempt what is known as a “Hail Mary Pass” – a very long pass into the opponents end zone, hoping for a touchdown. It is done out of desperation. Sometimes – rarely – it works.

That appears to be the strategy behind a last minute defensive June 10 letter from Canada’s Ambassador to the UN, Marc-André Blanchard, to UN ambassadors from other countries. He appears to be frustrated by another letter – one written he says – by “a group of Canadians regarding Canada’s position on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict”.

Blanchard argues that the offending letter “contains significant inaccuracies and characterizes Canada’s longstanding policy positions”. Unfortunately, Blanchard does not cite the letter or explain any of the ‘inaccuracies”.

This is a problem because there have been a flurry of letters recently from different groups of Canadians criticizing Canada’s stance on the Israel/Palestine issue, and in particular on our silence in the face of the Israel’s plan to take over even more Palestinian territory through “annexation”.

Which letter is the Ambassador referring to? Is it:

In Blanchard’s letter to his fellow ambassadors, he attempts to defend Canada’s policy, claiming that Canada “views any unilateral annexation of parts of the West Bank as contrary to international law”.

This is an accurate representation of what appears on the Global Affairs website. But what the Ambassador’s letter overlooks is that Canada actually has TWO policies on the Israel/Palestine question.

The first one, our paper policy, (the one on the website), opposes annexation, the occupation, building settlements, etc. It even supports a “just solution for the Palestinian refugees”!!

But the second one, our real policy, (the one we apply on a daily basis), is to continue to carry on “business as normal” with our friend Israel, including:

  • minimizing any criticism of Israeli human rights abuses in the Occupied Territories,
  • conducting bilateral ministerial delegations,
  • a free trade agreement,
  • defending Israel against prosecution for crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court,
  • averting our eyes in the face of new settlement construction,
  • ignoring human rights violations against Palestinian citizens of Israel,
  • remaining silent on the issue of child prisoners held by Israel,
  • refusing to condemn Israel’s repeated savage attacks against Gaza.

Will Ambassador Blanchard’s obfuscation and last quarter “Hail Mary” get a touchdown for Canada? Or will our historic pro-Israel bias at the UN cost us a seat at the UN Security Council? We will know on June 17th.


Canada Talks Israel Palestine (CTIP) is the weekly newsletter of Peter Larson, Chair of the Ottawa Forum on Israel/Palestine (OFIP). It aims to promote a serious discussion in Canada about the complicated and emotional Israel/Palestine issue with a focus on the truth, clear analysis and human rights for all. Readers who have a different point of view are invited to make comment.

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  1. Keep talking truth to power. Canada’s past record on the subject proves that the nation does not deserve a seat on the United Security Security Council. I guess for the Prime Minister and the Liberal Party, It has a comparison to do with what I heard a US congress Woman say, “it’s all about the Benjamins baby” or should I put it in a Canadian perspective, it is all about the Loonies baby. Nothing against Norway’s bid, but I am a proponent of Ireland as I heard members of the Irish Parliament address down the Israeli Ambassador in person, as was in the finest of traditions.

  2. Thanks for putting this together Peter. In this case, as you so well point out, it certainly seems that actions ( “real policy” ) speak louder than words( “paper policy” ).

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