Politics

Canada's UN ambassador 'cautiously optimistic' about landing Security Council seat

Canada's ambassador to the United Nations said this week he's optimistic about the country's chances of winning a seat at the UN Security Council table, even though the three-way race is both "competitive" and "unpredictable."

‘Whether we lose or not ... this will have been a very beneficial exercise,’ Marc-André Blanchard says

Canada's ambassador to the United Nations Marc-André Blanchard looks on as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (not pictured) takes part in a Question and Answer session at Cheikh Anta Diop University in Dakar, Senegal on Thursday. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

Canada's ambassador to the United Nations said this week he's optimistic about the country's chances of winning a seat at the UN Security Council table, even though the three-way race is both "competitive" and "unpredictable."

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau wrapped up a tour of Africa late Thursday, a trip intended to convince the continent's leaders to endorse Canada for a spot on the UN body.

"Canada is a very competitive participant in this race," Marc-André Blanchard told CBC Radio's The House from Senegal Thursday. "And you know what? I'm cautiously optimistic about our chances ... anything could happen."

Canada is vying for votes from 54 African nations against competitors Norway and Ireland for the right to serve a two-year mandate on the Security Council. At least 129 votes from the UN's 193 members are required to lock down a win.

But Norway and Ireland launched their bids for a seat before Canada did, and both countries spend more on developmental assistance and peacekeeping than Canada does.

Blanchard said that, during the tour, Canadian officials talked up the country's track record on bringing nations together, its emphasis on diversity and its commitment to addressing climate change. Asked about the fact that Canada isn't on track to meet its international emissions reduction targets, however, he suggested that Canada's engagement on the issue is being seen as "leadership" by other nations.

"One ambassador at the UN said to me, 'You know this must continue. This is very good that you take on climate change as an issue for the Security Council because people in the world that look at you, they know that you have some challenges,'" he said.

As for what happens if Canada fails to secure the votes it needs, Blanchard said strengthened ties with African nations made the trip worthwhile.

"I can tell you, whether we lose or not ... this will have been a very beneficial exercise for Canada."

Listen to host Chris Hall's interview with UN Ambassador Marc-André Blanchard:

Marc-André Blanchard is Canada's Ambassador to the United Nations and accompanied Prime Minister Trudeau on his recent tour in Africa, trying to shore up support for Canada's campaign for the UN Security Council. 7:44

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