Canada spends millions to win a UN Security Council seat, but millions more in violation of a UN resolution on land defenders
On February 7 of this year, CBC reporter Chantelle Bellrichard tweeted: “Just got an email reply on an earlier request I’d sent to #RCMP around costs for last year’s enforcement actions and establishment of CISO [Community Industry Safety Office] detachment [on Wet’suwet’en territory]. RCMP said actions between January and March 2019 cost $3.6 million.”
Those “enforcement actions” included a raid on January 7, 2019 by RCMP officers armed with assault rifles against a checkpoint and the arrest of 14 land defenders.
The Guardian has reported: “Canadian police were prepared to shoot Indigenous land defenders blockading construction of a natural gas pipeline in northern British Columbia, according to documents seen by the Guardian.”
By December 13, 2019, the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination urged Canada “to prohibit the use of lethal weapons, notably by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, against indigenous peoples.”
It also called upon Canada “to immediately halt the construction and suspend all permits and approvals for the construction of the Coastal Gas Link pipeline in the traditional and unceded lands and territories of the Wet’suwet’en people, until they grant their free, prior and informed consent, following the full and adequate discharge of the duty to consult.”
And yet by January 13, 2020, Canadian police had set up an exclusion zone on the territory and on February 6 launched a pre-dawn raid on the territory and arrested Wet’suwet’en land defenders seeking to block construction of the pipeline.
The cost of that January-February intervention is not available but could presumably be in the $3.6 million range of the January 2019 raid.
Canada is now campaigning to win a seat on the United Nations Security Council in a vote that is expected to take place on June 17.
Earlier this month, PassBlue, an independent media website that reports on the UN, noted: “For Canada, as of March 2020, the campaign-related expenses (including travel, hospitality, promotional items and more) were estimated around $1.56 million. This figure, however, does not include staff salaries, which comes from existing resources, the mission says.”
The CBC has reported the spending for the seat at $2 million.
Foreign Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne has stated: “The best campaign is when we don’t need to campaign, when we just show our leadership, that this is the type of voice that you would want at the Security Council.”
In the spirit of demonstrating that leadership, PBI-Canada has posted this URGENT ACTION that enables people to send an email to the Prime Minister asking him to act on the UN resolution on Wet’suwet’en land defenders prior to the June 17 vote.
Photo: RCMP on bridge at Unist’ot’en Camp, February 10, 2020.