Canada’s permanent representative to the United Nations isn’t saying whether he fears China could try to get countries not to vote for the Canadian bid for a Security Council seat in retaliation for the detention and extradition case of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou.
In an interview with The West Block‘s Mercedes Stephenson, Marc-Andre Blanchard was asked about what effect the ongoing diplomatic challenges with China over that case could have on the push.
He said while it’s possible there could be some impact, every country will have their own reasons driving whether they vote for or against Canada’s bid.
“There are 193 reasons why the countries will vote or not vote for Canada,” Blanchard said, referencing the number of voting states at the United Nations.
“It’s not only one issue. Of course all issues have a certain degree of impact but I think in this case, in the case of the vote, Canada is actually in a good position.”
Canada is into the final weeks of a years-long quest for a rotating seat on the UN Security Council.
The former Conservative government lost its own bid for the seat in 2010 and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made winning one of the two-year rotating seats a top priority for his government.
The vote will take place in June 2020 with the winners taking their seats in January 2021.
Canada is competing against Norway and Ireland for one of the two Western Europe group seats.
And while the rotating seats don’t have anything near the power of the permanent member seats, which hold controversial veto power, Blanchard says the goal is the increased influence gained from being around the table.
“It’s a huge opportunity for Canadians because when you’re around the table, you’re more relevant and when you’re more relevant, you have more influence,” he said.
But a significant portion of the votes needed to secure a win will come from Africa — a region where China is a major power broker in funding everything from infrastructure and mining, and frequent interventions in African politics as it tries to effectively export authoritarianism.
Trudeau has courted African state votes, suggesting to governments in the continent that they have “everything to gain” from working together with Canada.
China, however, is furious with Canada for the detention of Meng at the behest of the United States.
Most recently, the decision by a B.C. judge to allow her extradition case to continue came as a major blow to assumptions touted in Chinese state media that she would quickly be released.
China has since threatened retaliation, and it remains to be seen what form that will take.
They have already arbitrarily detained two Canadians: Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor.