Canada makes an actual (and un-liberal) decision at U.N.

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Canada vetoes key UN motion on refugees
Sides with U.S. on non-binding resolution to return Palestinians to their homes

Canada voted against a controversial resolution on Palestinian rights at the United Nations yesterday, an early sign that the new Harper government is aligning its Middle East policy more closely with the views of Israel and the United States.

The previous Liberal government had abstained on the identical resolution last year. But on instructions from Ottawa, the Canadian delegation at the UN joined the United States to vote against a non-binding motion calling on Israel to allow all Palestinian refugee women and children to return to their homes.

The South-African-sponsored resolution was adopted by the UN Economic and Social Council by a vote of 41-2 with only Canada and the United States voting against it.

This was the first Middle East resolution to come before a UN body since Stephen Harper’s Conservative government was sworn in last month.

“It’s not a flip to go from neutrality to taking a position,” Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay said yesterday.

But those who have followed the debates on these resolutions for years saw far greater significance in Ottawa’s vote. Shimon Fogel, chief executive officer of the Canada-Israel Committee, said that with this vote Canada is showing the world its displeasure with resolutions that pose as human-rights measures but in fact single out one country, Israel, for criticism.

“We’re very pleased with the Canadian vote,” Mr. Fogel said.

Hussein Amery, the president of the National Council on Canada-Arab Relations, said that unlike the Liberals, the Conservatives did not even consult with Canadian Arab and Muslim groups before making such a significant policy shift.

“Now we [Canada] sit isolated, alone with the United States, against a resolution calling on Israel to allow displaced persons and refugees to return home. Is that the kind of image we want to project to the international community?” Mr. Amery said.

Gilbert Laurin, Canada’s representative at the UN council session, said Ottawa was switching its vote from abstention to a nay because of the failure of the sponsors of the resolution to come back this year with a balanced document. “We have consistently called for more balance in resolutions dealing with the Israeli-Palestinian issue.” […]

Canada should take more definitive pro-Israel positions.  And Canada’s leadership should explain why they are doing that, too.

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