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UN and Canada have 'good relationship,' Baird says

06/08/2012 02:22 EDT | Updated 08/08/2012 05:12 EDT

Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said today that Canada has no intention of withdrawing from the United Nations, but will speak up when it has concerns about its actions.

Baird responded with a straightforward "no" when asked in question period by NDP foreign affairs critic Paul Dewar whether the Conservatives want to pull out of the UN.

"I can say that from time to time, we have had concerns of actions of certain UN agencies, but by and large, we have a very good relationship with the UN," Baird said.

Dewar said Conservative MPs have been tripping over each other to bash the UN and issue vague threats about it.

Earlier this week, Tory MP Larry Miller issued a statement that expressed his "disappointment" with the 193-member organization, and it urged Baird and the government to review Canada's participation in it. Miller told reporters on Wednesday that he did not say Canada should necessarily abandon the UN, that he only called for a review.

"That's all I've said," Miller stated, adding he sent a letter to Baird and Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Miller takes issue with the UN's committee against torture because he said it "voiced displeasure" with Canada's immigration and refugee reform bill.

'Stand up for what is right'

He said the UN has encouraged Canada to compensate Omar Khadr and bring him back to Canada, and he's also disappointed by the UN food rapporteur that recently visited Canada.

"The United Nations is an organization that was designed to work collectively to solve the major problems facing the world," Miller said in his 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."

Oliver De Schutter spent 11 days in Canada to study food security and he did not receive a warm welcome from the Conservatives. Immigration and Citizenship Minister Jason Kenney called the trip a "discredit" to the UN and said Canada doesn't need lectures. Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq said De Schutter was patronizing and ill-informed.

Baird said on Friday that Canada is a strong supporter of many UN programs, including its food program.

"The true enemies of the UN are those who sit quietly watching the decline. We should speak up for the UN and the important values that it represents when it doesn't reach the full expectations that taxpayers and Canadians have," said Baird. "We should not be afraid to stand up for what is right and we never will on this side of the House."

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