The federal government has enlisted former prime minister Joe Clark and former Quebec premier Jean Charest to persuade foreign governments to support Canada in its bid for a coveted seat on the United Nations Security Council.
Marc-André Blanchard, Canada’s ambassador to the UN, said the pair will serve as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s special envoys for the UN Security Council mission. Mr. Clark and Mr. Charest are travelling the world to advocate on behalf of Canada’s campaign for one of 10 rotating, non-permanent seats on the UN’s most powerful branch in 2021-22.
“Their role is to convey an official request by the Prime Minister asking for the support of the country that is visited for Canada’s candidacy for an elected seat of the United Nations Security Council,” Mr. Blanchard said.
“Envoys show a commitment by Canada to the relationship. It is also a way to engage with each country in a different way."
Mr. Clark, who was most recently appointed to the role, was in South Africa on Tuesday, where he met President Cyril Ramaphosa and the country’s foreign-affairs minister. He will travel to Angola later this week to meet its leader. Mr. Charest, whose appointment was reported by The Globe and Mail in July, is campaigning for Canada in Panama, the Dominican Republic and Trinidad and Tobago this week.
Mr. Charest also visited Oman, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates over the summer, where he hand-delivered a letter from Mr. Trudeau to Sultan Qaboos bin Said, the hereditary monarch, and met other senior Omani officials.
Mr. Clark and Mr. Charest are not to be paid a salary for their work as envoys, but their travel expenses are covered by the government.
Mr. Charest is a partner at McCarthy Tétrault, the law firm where Mr. Blanchard served as chair and chief executive officer before Mr. Trudeau named him UN ambassador in 2016.
Mr. Blanchard said Canada will appoint more envoys in the weeks and months to come, but did not say who. He said Canada enlisted four envoys, including then-Conservative senator Raynell Andreychuk and then-Francophonie affairs ambassador Jacques Bilodeau, during its 2010 Security Council campaign.
Canada is in the final year of its campaign for the 2021-22 Security Council seat, as 193 UN member states prepare to vote next June.
Canada has stiff competition from Ireland and Norway for the seat. Ireland outshines its competitors on the peacekeeping front, with one of the highest per capita troop contributions to UN peacekeeping operations. Norway excels on the international aid front, contributing 1 per cent of its gross national income to development assistance in 2017, compared to just 0.26 per cent in Canada.
In the 2015 federal election, Mr. Trudeau campaigned on a commitment to “restore Canada as a leader in the world" and re-engage with multilateral institutions after years of strained relations with the UN under former prime minister Stephen Harper.
Mr. Harper’s Conservative government withdrew Canada’s candidacy for a Security Council seat in 2010 when it became clear Canada would lose to Portugal. Canada last sat on the Security Council in 1999-2000.
The Security Council has 15 members: five permanent countries (China, France, Russia, Britain and the United State) and 10 non-permanent seats that are chosen in rotating elections. The body has significant influence in determining what constitutes threats to international peace and security, calling upon parties to settle disputes and authorizing the use of sanctions or force to address a conflict. A seat on the body ensures a vote in decisions.
With a report from Doug Saunders