“If this is the type of action that the UN will be taking then I think that it is high time that we review our participation in the United Nations,” Conservative MP Larry Miller said Wednesday.
OTTAWA — A Conservative backbencher is demanding Canada reconsider its membership in the United Nations after the world body criticized the government for its treatment of alleged war criminals and changes to the refugee system.
Ontario MP Larry Miller said he is also upset the UN deployed a special food rapporteur to Canada last month instead of to a developing country.
“The United Nations is an organization that was designed to work collectively to solve the major problems facing the world,” Mr. Miller said in a statement. “If this is the type of action that the UN will be taking then I think that it is high time that we review our participation in the United Nations.”
Mr. Miller said he wrote to Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird about the issue.
It contained concerns about the Conservative government’s policy of arresting and deporting alleged war criminals instead of seeing them brought to justice. It was also critical of the government’s refusal to assist Omar Khadr and asked it to reconsider controversial changes to the refugee system.
While the review was routine, the Conservative government argued the UN should be focused on the countless, more egregious human rights violations occurring in other parts of the globe.
UN special rapporteur on food Olivier De Schutter, meanwhile, concluded at the end of an 11-day tour of Canada last month the country was in violation of its international obligations, given how many families are unable meet their daily food needs.
He also said people shouldn’t be so self-righteous about how great Canada is considering the pervasiveness of hunger and poverty, especially among aboriginals, amid so much wealth.
Senior Cabinet ministers shot back, telling him to devote his time to famine-stricken countries.
Speaking to reporters on Parliament Hill later Wednesday, Mr. Miller also took issue with a UN tourism agency’s special recognition of Zimbabwean dictator Robert Mugabe — though he insisted he isn’t necessarily asking for Canada to leave the world body.
“The message should be that Canada should review its participation. That’s all I’ve said,” said the veteran MP, who stumbled into controversy in February after comparing the long-gun registry to Hitler and the Nazis.
But the Conservatives also view the organization with wariness, seeing it as giving dictators a soapbox and lending legitimacy to authoritarian regimes.
Mr. Baird voiced displeasure in recent weeks over the Security Council’s failure to condemn the violence in Syria.
In the House of Commons on Wednesday, Government House leader Peter Van Loan was more measured, saying UN-sanctioned missions in Afghanistan and Libya had allowed Canada to advance democracy, freedom and the rule of law.
Liberal foreign affairs critic Dominic LeBlanc described Mr. Miller’s comments as ignorant.
“We live in an interconnected world where we can only protect Canada’s interests by playing a positive role internationally,” Mr. LeBlanc said. “We cannot isolate ourselves as the Conservatives seem to believe. Canadians are best served by a policy of constructive engagement.”
Only two states have ever left the UN: Syria between 1958 and 1961, when it shared a seat with Egypt, and Indonesia between January 1965 and September 1966, at which point it was involved in a feud with Malaysia.