In the political world, some wounds just never heal, regardless of their context.
It wasn't just the country in general that endured the embarrassment of Canada being rejected for a seat on the UN security council in 2010, but the Conservative government itself that had to live with the reality that it presided over that ignominy, even though Canada had succeeded in similar votes six times in the past. So, yes, it was a deep source of embarrassment and there was no shortage of blame to go around.
But that was almost six years ago -- eons in political terms. Yet here was Conservative MP Deepak Obhrai this week claiming that the reason for that earlier humiliation lay squarely at the feet of the European Union, who, he charges, worked diligently to keep Canada from getting the coveted Security Council vote back in 2010. His reasons were many, some valid, some not, but it was his support of Brexit and getting Britain out of the European Union that caused him to trot out his reasons all over again.
I worked with Obhrai for a few years on the foreign affairs committee in Parliament, where we struck up an amicable relationship despite my being a Liberal opposition member on the committee. At the time, he was the Parliamentary secretary to the minister of foreign affairs and he carried sway on the committee. But, as with others, he would often say bombastic things that related little to the discussion at hand.
Leaving aside his support of Brexit and his reasons for claiming the EU had purposely spoiled Canada's chances for the security council seat, it's prudent for us to recall just how this country was viewed at that time by other nations.
- Nothing can cover up the reality that Canada was seen as a purposeful laggard at global conferences on climate change, especially at the Copenhagen Summit in 2009. Our willingness to fly in the face of growing international support for environmental reforms left some lasting damage.
- By refusing to sign the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples back in 2007, the global community was forced into doing a double take in its assessment of this country as a fair-minded champion for human rights. And then the Harper government repeated that same decision in 2014, becoming the only UN member to fail to sign.
- The most tragic moment of my tenure on the foreign affairs committee came when we hosted a group of African nations who begged us to reverse our development cuts to seven of those countries. I blogged about it that day, but the global effects of our government's refusal to even seriously reconsider the cuts had a profound impact when those same nations placed their votes regarding the security council seat.
- For better or worse, the Harper government's strident pro-Israeli stance alienated numerous governments in the Middle East and North Africa. It's likely many of those nations voted for another contender for the security council seat.
The above list could be easily extended, but the point should be made that Canada's rejection in its seeking the UN seat came from issues related across many disciplines, and not just European Union interests. With a sense of polished vagueness, former UN ambassador under Brian Mulroney, Yves Fortier, nevertheless spelled it out when telling the Globe and Mail that the rejection was the "lamentable result" and a reflection of things Canada has "done or not done that a majority of nations disapprove of."
Our slide in international esteem became apparent two years later when Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird addressed the general assembly on Middle East issues. His reception compared to those of other nations was stark and troubling. Check it out here.
On CBC television's At Issue panel this week, the Huffington Post's Althia Raj noted that Obhrai has been sending signals that he is interested in the Conservative Party leadership. It's usually in such a context that leadership aspirants say excessive things in order to garner attention for their upcoming candidacy.
Deepak Obhrai served the Harper government well during his many years of service, but in blaming Canada's rejection at the UN on the European Union he has shown a partisan and clear disregard for those numerous other issues that resulted in one of our great diplomatic failures.
Follow HuffPost Canada Blogs on Facebook
MORE ON HUFFPOST:
The Ukip leader and MEP is the most famous 'outer'. After his party took over a 100 council seats in May's local election's Nigel Farage is hoping to win the 2014 European elections and then gain MPs in Westminster in 2015. He has confirmed he will seek a parliamentary seat himself.
Margaret Thatcher's former chancellor and a true 'Tory grandee' revealed in The Times that if and when there is a referendum "I shall be voting out". He also stuck the boot into the David Cameron by saying the prime minister's attempts to renegotiate the terms of the UK's relationship with the EU would be "inconsequential".
There are quite a few Conservative MPs who would like to wave goodbye to Brussels. Ken Clarke has said the figure is as low as 30 despite the strong eurosceptic feeling on the backbenches. However the exact number is not clear. Mid-Bedforshire MP Nadine Dorries, who remains suspended from the Conservative Party, is currently talk tof the eurosceptic town amid rumours she may defect to Ukip. Other backbench Brexiters include Bill Cash, Douglas Carswell, Peter Bone and Philip Davies and former defence minister Sir Gerald Howarth.
Most of the anti-EU focus is on the Tory benches. But there are more than a handful of Labour MPs would would like to quit Brussels as well. Eurosceptics include Frank Field, Kate Hoey, Austin Mitchell, and Gisela Stuart. Stuart has argued the status quo is "not sustainable" and Britain should leave.
Rupert Murdoch has warned that the EU will "sink" the UK. The News International and boss caused a stir when he met Nigel Farage for dinner in London recently and said the Ukip leader was "reflecting opinion" with his anti-EU views. In November 2010 Richard Desmond’s Daily Express became the first UK newspaper actively to call for Britain to leave the EU, launching a ‘Get Britain Out’ campaign
Of course no campaign is complete without a bit of star power. The pro-EU camp have Eddie Izzard, who do the Brexiters have? Joan Collins, a 'patron' of Ukip, wants the UK to leave. "The EU, controlled from Brussels, cares only about itself," she said in March.
Most business leaders do indeed seem content with what Lawson called the "warm embrace of the European single market", but there are a few dissenters. Private equity guys Jon Moulton and Edmund Truell are two and Next boss and Tory peer Simon Wolfson has said: "Britain should stay in Europe, but only on the right terms".
There are a number of loud voices whinnying on the sidelines to say "neigh" to the EU notably Melanie Phillips, Richard Littlejohn, Tom Utley, Simon Heffer. Basically the Daily Mail stable.
Several high-profile politicians appear to be on the verge of calling for the UK to exit the EU - but just are not there yet. Former defence secretary Liam Fox - pictured here with a big gun - has said "life outside the EU holds no terror" should David Cameron's hopes of negotiating a new treaty fail. Education secretary Michael Gove is said to have told friends the UK has "nothing to be scared of" by leaving Europe. And many other eurosceptic cabinet ministers, including Iain Duncan Smith and Owen Paterson are likely to share that view.
Follow Glen Pearson on Twitter: www.twitter.com/glenpearson