India Criticised for 'Betraying' Canada on UN Seat

By Gurmukh Singh

Toronto, Oct 15 (IANS) India came in for sharp criticism here Thursday for not backing Canada in its bid for a seat in the UN Security Council.

New Delhi backed Portugal over Canada for one of the non-permanent seats in the Security Council this week.

India reportedly voted for Portugal because it supports its bid for a permanent seat in the Security Council whereas Canada is opposed to inclusion of more permanent members. Instead Ottawa wants more non-permanent membership on a regional basis. China and the UAE also reportedly backed Portugal.

Though there was no reaction from the government which backed India at the Nuclear Suppliers' Group to end its nuclear isolation and later inked a nuclear deal with it this June, the media slammed India for its 'betrayal' of a friendly nation.

"When the time came for Canada to count its friends in its bid for a seat at the United Nations Security Council, India wasn't there," wrote the Globe and Mail under the headline 'India turned its back on Canada during bid for Security Council seat.'

"Those with a close knowledge of how nations voted in the General Assembly say India supported Portugal over Canada in the contest for a temporary seat on the council this week. That vote stings: Prime Minister Stephen Harper has invested a great deal of political capital in improving Indo-Canadian ties. In this instance, at least, his efforts were for naught," the newspaper said.

The paper said there were good reasons for Canada to hope for India's support as "the subcontinent is the second largest source of immigrants to Canada, which has a large Indian diaspora.

"Mr. Harper visited India last November, and the two nations signed a nuclear energy co-operation agreement earlier this year. The Conservatives (ruling party) have identified its fellow Commonwealth member as a key market, as Canada seeks to pivot from the Atlantic to the Pacific in search of new, emerging markets for its resources and manufactured goods. "But India supported Portugal nonetheless."

Indian High Commissioner Shashishekhar Gavai tried to make light of the issue, saying India's too lost a similar contest in 1996. "One has to move on. It's not really the end of the world. Canada's position does not stand diminished in any way," Gavai said.

Parliamentary secretary Deepak Obhrai, who is the highest-ranking Indo-Canadian in the government, told IANS, "We understand India's position. They have their own priorities...which is fine. Every country votes according to its priorities. We congratulate Indians on winning their seat at the Council."


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