Conservative confusion about international organizations

The author is a political advisor to the Minister of International Trade in the Harper government 2011 on 2015. He is now a consultant and lecturer at several universities in trade and international business.

Conservatives have an ambivalent relationship with international organizations, a relationship made up of a mixture of mistrust and cynicism. Canada, under the leadership of Stephen Harper, failed to get a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council in the fall of 2010.

Prime Minister Harper responded that his government would not allow itself to be distracted by a popularity contest.

Canada’s actions on the international stage are not motivated by a desire to make friends, according to the translation of the words of Minister John Baird: “ Canada doesn’t just “come together” to “come together”. »

This failure, however, does not prevent the Harper government from working with the UN, NATO and international coalitions when the situation requires military intervention or humanitarian aid, for example in Afghanistan, Libya, Iraq or in Syria.

The very popular Justin Trudeau also failed to get a seat on the UN Security Council in 2020. The conservative family can take comfort and be happy, he has done nothing better than Mr. Harper. Regardless, the consensus among conservatives remains unchanged: the UN is not protecting Israel adequately. It is also an organization that offers Saudi Arabia a seat on a commission on the status of women. Therefore, there is no need to court him.

In December 2011, Canada left the UN’s Kyoto protocol on climate. This decision of the Harper government was inspired, in essence, by the fact that major polluters, such as China, are not subject to binding targets, in the same way as Canada, and that the targets are not respected. In form: this is an opportunity to send a clear message of support for the country’s oil and gas energy sector, where the Kyoto targets are not popular, and, in passing, to express a little contempt for the UN.


The truth is that even within the conservative family, an ambiguous relationship with international organizations has developed. If we analyze the leadership race of the Conservative Party of Canada, we see that some positions flirt with very marginal, even conspiratorial populism.

Leslyn Lewis, a candidate for the presidency for the second time, did not stop: the World Health Organization (WHO) attacked the sovereignty of Canadian health, nothing else. The proposal for an international agreement on pandemics should be fought, he said.

This is a little ironic, since his campaign communications say he wants to “reject fear and division,” while claiming that we should all be afraid of the WHO. If he defends this position, it is because it should enjoy a popular support, and therefore respond to a political calculation.

Pierre Poilievre, the leader of the Conservative leadership race, is clear: no minister of his future government will attend the meetings of the World Economic Forum (WEF), better known by its English acronym WEF, held every year in Davos, in Switzerland.

Having participated in it more than once, I assure you that you will never come back from being a socialist or less Canadian. The testimony, Stephen Harper and John Baird attended. While the GEF is not an organization like the UN and WHO, the message remains clear. Same calculation here as in MME Lewis: This position must be popular enough for Mr. Poilievre to adopt it.

All that is missing is the name of Bill Gates mentioned in the leadership race. Gates is part of the world’s elite, he is better is the elite of the world. Its goal is without a doubt: mass vaccination and the fight against pandemics, in collaboration with the WHO. He certainly won’t win a popularity contest in some conservative circles.

Do you remember the 2010 G8 summit in Muskoka? Prime Minister Harper used the platform offered to him by the Canadian presidency to promote the Maternal, Newborn and Child Health Initiative, funded by $6 billion in Canada.

The goal: vaccination, with the WHO and a Bill Gates. Along with free trade agreements with Europe and Asia, the Muskoka initiative is the great international success of Stephen Harper.


Today, vaccination has become a touchy subject in conservative families. We must believe that the days when Stephen Harper was praised for his leadership of a vaccination initiative that, with the support of Bill Gates, saved lives around the world, are over.

All these vague international relations that my party maintains make me think that we have forgotten an organization. Pascal Lamy, former Director General of the World Trade Organization (WTO), said in his farewell speech in 2013: “We have strengthened the WTO as the world’s leading trade organization, a major pillar of global economic governance. Yes, yes, he used the pejorative term “global governance”.

In the light of this sentence, should we also review our commitment to the WTO, according to the political calculation discussed above? You will tell me that the organization is struggling at the moment, but it will still be popular to do this. In any case, among Conservatives, you don’t enter politics to make international friends.

We’ll leave that to the Liberals, along with their social events. I look forward to hearing the explanations of the future Conservative Minister of Trade for the fact that he will not go to the meetings of the WTO, led by Switzerland, because they are held on the side of the WEF.

Final advice: no attack on UNESCO, because it was under the Harper government that Quebec got a seat.

To see in the video

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