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The Globe and Mail

'Sad day for Canada' sparks call for foreign-policy overhaul

Ballot boxes sit in front of members of the United Nations before a vote on the election of the five non-permanent members of the Security Council on Oct. 12, 2010, in New York.


Bob Rae calls it a "sad day." Paul Dewar agrees but he also believes Stephen Harper and his government botched Canada's campaign to gain a temporary seat on the UN Security Council.

This was the immediate reaction of the two opposition foreign-affairs critics - Mr. Rae for the Liberals and Mr. Dewar for the NDP -after the Harper government abandoned its bid in New York.

"It's a sad day for Canada," Mr. Rae told The Globe. "I take no partisan joy in this whatsoever. We shall all have to reflect on what happened, what it means, and what we have to do about it."

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Mr. Dewar pointed out that this is the first time since "the creation of the United Nations that Canada has failed in its bid to serve on the Security Council."

"The government has to account for the loss of Canada's privileged position and reputation on the global stage," he said.

"The Harper government's approach to foreign policy has isolated us on the global stage," Mr. Dewar added. "Today's results call for an overhaul of Conservative government's foreign policy. It's time for a new approach on climate change, peacekeeping, poverty and other threats to global peace and security."

Colin Robertson, an expert on Canada/U.S. relations, said he is "disappointed and surprised" by the result. But he cautioned Ottawa "should not disengage" or "revel in it or don ashes."

"We can lick our wounds then get back in the ring," he said. "Acrimony, blame and second guessing - of which there will doubtless be plenty - won't change things. We need to redefine our interests and then pursue them."

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