Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Wednesday March 4, 2020
Ex-PM Joe Clark campaigns for Security Council seat in Africa, Persian Gulf
Former prime minister and foreign minister Joe Clark faces a tough slog during his travels to the Persian Gulf and Africa to campaign for Canada’s bid for the United Nations Security Council, analysts said Monday.
Clark began a one-week trip Monday as “special envoy” to Algeria, Bahrain, Qatar and Egypt to campaign for Canada’s bid for a temporary two-year seat on the UN’s most powerful body.
If elected, the Trudeau government says Canada will continue to work to strengthen multilateralism, foster peace, address climate change, promote economic security and advance gender equality.
Bessma Momani, an expert in Middle East affairs at the University of Waterloo, says Clark may not get a very receptive audience to Canada’s push for women’s rights among some of the government representatives he will be meeting.
“The people certainly hold Canada in high regard, regardless of what the governments may think,” Momani said. “People are still queuing to immigrate here so clearly we are still doing something right.”
“Certainly our recent emphasis on human rights and women’s rights is probably not received that favourably in that part of the world, which tends to have more conservative values and are part of the global autocratic turn.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau visited Ethiopia and Senegal in February as part of his government’s campaign for the council seat. Several cabinet ministers have also been visiting countries across Africa in recent months.
The secret ballot at the UN General Assembly takes place in June for a two-year term starting next year.
Africa, with its 54 voting countries, is a key voting bloc in the tough fight that pits Canada against Norway and Ireland for two available seats. Both countries spend more per capita than Canada on foreign aid, which is seen by many analysts as an impediment to Canada’s chances to winning the competition.
Clark is an appropriate choice to campaign in the region, but he will have his work cut out for him, said Fen Hampson, a Carleton University expert who wrote a recent book on the foreign policy of the ex-prime minister Brian Mulroney. Clark served as Mulroney’s minister of external affairs.
“African leaders with long memories will recall the important role Joe Clark and Brian Mulroney played in the Commonwealth in helping to bring an end to apartheid in South Africa and also stepping up to the plate in the Ethiopian famine crisis,” said Hampson. (CTV News)