Many factors in Canada’s loss at UN Security Council: expert panel says

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s campaign to get Canada elected to the prestigious UN Security Council crashed and burned on June 10th, as we lost out to Norway and Ireland. Because it was a secret ballot, there is no way to tell who supported us, who voted against us or why. An OFIP expert panel examined many reasons why other countries might not have found Canada to be the best candidate. Read more or watch the 90 minute video of the event….

In the wake of Canada’s failed attempt to join the UN Security Council, accusatory fingers have pointed in different directions to explain the loss.

On July 9th, the Ottawa Forum on Israel Palestine convened an expert panel to review the issue consisting of:

Peggy Mason is the President of the Rideau Institute and a former Canadian Ambassador for Disarmament to the UN.

Dr. Ferry de Kerkhove is a fellow at the Centre for International Policy Studies (CIPS) at the University of Ottawa, and a former Canadian Ambassador to Egypt

Dr. Miloud Chennoufi teaches international relations at the Canadian Forces College (Toronto) where he chairs the Masters in Defense Studies program.

Key Questions

The panel was asked to address 5 key questions:

  • Why did we fail in our attempt to be elected to the UNSC?
  • How important was our record of pro-Israel voting at the UN General Assembly in that defeat?
  • Is Canada equally supportive of Israel in the other UN bodies where we participate?
  • If so, why are we so supportive of Israel in the face of world opinion? Fear for Israeli security? Fear of Israeli pressure? Fear of the USA? Domestic Canadian pressures?
  • What would be the consequences for Canada if we were to take a more “neutral” or “balanced” position in favour of human rights for Palestinians?


Panelists generally agreed a number of factors were important in Canada’s loss and that there was no single explanation that could be identified as the key cause.

Among the factors identified were:

  • Canada’s general positioning as an ally of the USA
  • Our moralistic (even antagonistic and self-righteous) stance with respect to several other UN members including Russia, China, Venezuela, and Iran
  • The high quality of our “opponents” (Norway and Iceland) both of which have very good international reputations, both of which had joined the race several years before we announced our candidacy
  • Our weak role in international peacekeeping and international development assistance
  • Our “selective” approach to criticizing human rights in some countries but not others
  • Our continuous voting in support of Israel notwithstanding our claim to be “neutral” in the Israel/Palestine conflict.
  • the instability of the Trudeau minority government which might possibly mean giving a seat to a “Harper-type” Canadian government after the next election.

The video of the entire 90 minute webinar follows.


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 with different points of view are invited to make comment.

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  1. The first factor listed subsumes factors 2,5 and 6. Frankly, I was surprised that we came as close as we did.

  2. “If so, why are we so supportive of Israel in the face of world opinion? Fear for Israeli security? Fear of Israeli pressure? Fear of the USA? Domestic Canadian pressures?”

    Quite the self serving question bank. It is not close to amusing that you never thought to ask that Canada was acting as a moral player, rather than caving into anti-Zionist world opinion.

    Ferry explained it best; Norway and Ireland were better playing the game and started campaigning for the seats 10 years earlier.

  3. Thank you Peter. For some reason your “read more” button produces a screen that say there is no page to be found. Paul

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