New York: Canada`s Prime Minister Stephen Harper has made a pitch for a seat on the Security Council, saying Canadians hold dear the UN values of justice and equality.
"This assembly should know that Canada is eligible for a seat on the Security Council," Harper said yesterday in a speech to the General Assembly.
"If called upon to serve on the Security Council we shall be informed by these ideals and strive to further them."
"These ideals, as well as an acute awareness of the broad concerns of the international community, especially those of the developing countries continue to animate the government of Canada, the government that I lead today."
Harper listed Canada`s contributions to help quake-ravaged Haiti and to peace initiatives in Sudan and Sierra Leone, as well as the "heavy toll" paid by Canada to "support the lawful government of Afghanistan”.
"We pay it in both the resources of Canadian taxpayers, but also with profound sorrow, in the priceless lives of our young men and women who serve there in the Canadian Armed Forces," he said.
The Prime Minister said Canada has doubled its aid for Africa, "taking the lead among G8 nations”.
His government will also double its overall development assistance by March of next year, from 2006 levels, he added.
Critics, however, say Canada`s international aid is underperforming relative to its peers, after slowly declining over the past two decades to 0.3 per cent of Canada`s gross domestic product (GDP) in 2009. The average among OECD countries is 0.48 percent and the United Nations has proposed an increase to 0.7 percent of GDP.
"The current crisis of confidence in the effectiveness of Canada`s aid and development efforts appears to have reached a high water mark," said Patrick Johnston, who authored a series of papers on Canadian foreign aid.
Canadian opposition leader Michael Ignatieff, meanwhile, questioned whether Canada led by Harper deserves a rotating seat on the Security Council.
"This is a government that for four years has basically ignored the United Nations and now is suddenly showing up saying, Hey, put us on the council," Ignatieff said on Monday.
"I know how important it is for Canada to get a seat on the Security Council but Canadians have to ask a tough question: Has this government earned that place? We`re not convinced it has."