TORONTO (JTA) – Canada mounted an intensive lobbying campaign last year to persuade other countries to oppose a United Nations vote on Palestinian statehood, a Canadian newspaper reported.
Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird "personally took to the phones last year to try to swing countries" to oppose Palestinian efforts to be recognized as a state by the United Nations, according to "newly released" documents cited by the Toronto-based Globe and Mail newspaper in a front-page story Tuesday.
The documents reveal "for the first time … how intensely Canada worked behind the scenes to block the statehood resolution."
Partially blacked out briefing notes obtained under Canada’s Access to Information Law show that Baird was briefed for calls last August to the foreign ministers of Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, Chile, Panama and El Salvador.
Joseph Lavoie, a spokesman for Baird, said the calls were made to press Ottawa’s view that the Palestinian statehood resolution would be an obstacle to Mideast peace.
"Minister Baird called the countries in question to express Canada’s position that this resolution would make a resumption of peace talks more difficult and raise expectations without changing the facts on the ground to improve lives," Lavoie told the Globe and Mail.
The story went on to say that Baird ignored a request last July from Hanan Ashrawi, the Palestinian point person on the statehood vote. A briefing note indicated that Ashrawi was not expecting Canada’s staunchly pro-Israel government to change its mind on the resolution. Ashrawi, however, did publicly ask Ottawa not to lobby other countries on the issue.