Stephen Harper, fresh faced and rosy cheeked from discovering one of the Franklin expedition ships, will address the United Nations later this month for the first time in three years. However, he won’t take part in the UN Climate Summit. While he will attend a summit on Child and Maternal Health, not even our environment minister seems to be going to the UN Climate Summit around the same time. Instead it was announced that the PM and Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon will dine together and will briefly touch on climate issues. I assume Harper’s “discussion” on the climate will go something like this:
Harper has a spotty record of attendance at the UN, and has been rather lax in paying our dues to the various UN agencies. His excuse is that previous Prime Ministers did not regularly attend either, and he has better things to do. Clearly cribbage comes first.
In 2010, around the time we lost a seat on the Security Council, Harper skipped the UN in favour of wining and dining with big business while he was in New York. The last time Stephen Harper addressed the UN was in 2010-pouty faced over not getting a seat on the Security Council and (to the surprise of no one) passing the buck for the loss from, Conservative Policy, and blaming Opposition Leader Michael Ignatieff.
Conservatives dislike the UN for its bloated bureaucracy, and because they can’t keep people they don’t like out of the club (Cuba and China, for instance). The first is a particularly valid point and I too could see that the UN is less effective than it could be. However, I don’t agree that ignoring it is the answer. Look what happened to the League of Nations when everyone stopped caring, started excluding people, and viewed it as a toothless tiger in the night. We should be careful that the same thing doesn’t happen to the United Nations as happened to the League! After all, the governments which founded the League started out as democracies too!