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OP ED PUBLISHED BY THE STAR PHOENIX OCTOBER 21, 2010

The editorial, Canada takes major hit on world stage (SP, Oct. 13), was quite right to point out that, "For nearly 70 years, Canada has been able to punch above its weight internationally," partly due to its policies and partly "because the country was able to field among the most skilled, best-trained and effective diplomats in the world."

Those things have not changed. It is simply wrong to say that our recent failure to secure a seat on the UN Security Council "illustrates the depths to which Canada's global status has slipped."

The result of the Security Council election says more about the United Nations and the state of global politics than it does about Canada or any Canadian government.

It would be more accurate to say that regimes that oppose western values no longer view Canada as the softest adversary that can be stuffed into a Western seat on the council.

As your editorial pointed out, "The world has changed greatly in the little more than a decade since Canada last bid for a Security Council seat."

Global political alignments have undergone a seismic shift since 9/11. The world today is not divided between East and the West or between communism and capitalism. Rather, it is divided between states that support democratic freedom and fundamental human rights, and those that stand for radicalism, terrorism and despotism.

Unlike at certain times in the past, countries in the latter group now know that Canada will not sit idly by while western values are abused.

The Harper government's unequivocal support of Israel's right to exist within secure borders certainly played a significant role in the outcome of the UN vote. Many in the Arab world deny Israel's right to exist, and take other intolerant positions inimical to Canadian and Western values.

Whenever our country takes a firm stand, we run the risk of alienating those who do not share our values. But no government should ever craft its policies with the aim of winning a seat on the Security Council.

The current Conservative government will not blur or compromise our values and those of Canadians for the sake of international acclaim. Vanity must never drive foreign policy.

At the same time, Canada's status actually has improved among our allies and other like-minded nations, because we have stepped up to the plate in a number of important areas, such as fighting terrorism and tyranny in Afghanistan, assisting disaster-ravaged nations like Haiti and Pakistan, promoting international free trade, and so on.

The outcome of the Security Council elections also was influenced by regional politics. Simply put, European nations chose to support two of their own to fill the contested Western seats.

In addition, council elections are always rife with politics and perfidy. Going into last week's elections, Canada had written promises of support from 135 nations. Clearly, some UN members wrote one thing in letters to Canadian diplomats and something entirely different on their secret ballots.

They broke their promises to Canada despite this country's longstanding support for the UN. Canada is the seventh largest contributor to the United Nations budget. Indeed, we contribute more than either Russia or China, two permanent Security Council members. Portugal, which won the seat over Canada, ranks 25th.

They broke their promises despite Canada's significant spending on foreign aid. In 2008, we spent $4.8 billion US on foreign aid while Portugal spent $620 million.

Finally, the role played by Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff in keeping Canada off the council cannot be dismissed lightly. Your editorial was wrong to scoff at the notion of "an international diplomatic corps that seems to be the only ones who listen to the Liberal leader."

It would be absurd to suggest that Ignatieff's comments had no effect on the campaign. It is not that Ignatieff himself has any international credibility or influence. It's just that when a country's own parliamentarians are divided over its bid for a council seat, that country can hardly expect a vote of confidence from the international community.

Senator David Tkachuk