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Tory MP wants Baird to consider yanking Canada out of UN

The United Nations flag flies at half-mast outside UN headquarters in New York on Aug. 20, 2003.

MARY ALTAFFER/AP

A Conservative backbencher wants Canada to be the first country in the world to leave the United Nations.

Larry Miller, the MP for Bruce–Grey–Owen Sound, says he's upset the UN Committee Against Torture "voiced displeasure" with the Harper government's refugee-reform bill, and sent a rapporteur on food security to Canada.

He doesn't like the criticism from the UN and issued a statement saying he's going to ask Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird to consider whether Canada should take its ball and go home.

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"If this is the type of action that the UN will be taking, then I think it is high time that we review our participation in the United Nations," Mr. Miller said in a statement.

It certainly would be an unprecedented way to respond to the proddings of some of the UN's many bodies and their reports.

No country has ever quit the United Nations, which has 193 members. Only one country, Vatican City, has stayed out of the United Nations voluntarily. A few others, notably Kosovo and Taiwan, have not been allowed in because countries disagree on whether they should be recognized as sovereign nations.

The UN Committee Against Torture, which was conducting its regular review of the compliance of countries that have signed an anti-torture convention, suggested Ottawa reconsider a bill that would reduce appeals for people who claim they face persecution but are denied refugee status in Canada.

Mr. Miller also said he did not like its criticism of Canada for issuing a wanted list of 30 so-called "war criminals" – actually people who are inadmissible to Canada because they were officials of governments involved in crimes against humanity. The committee said Ottawa should prosecute war criminals in Canada, rather than deport them.

Liberal foreign affairs critic Dominic Leblanc called Mr. Miller's comments "ignorant" and said they were symptomatic of Conservative foreign policy weakness.

"Their foreign policy, comprised of press releases, criticizing others and throwing hissy-fits when others dare criticize them, has damaged our international reputation, and affected our ability to work collaboratively with other governments and multi-lateral organizations," he said in a statement sent to The Globe and Mail.

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Later Wednesday, Mr. Baird's office issued a statement saying Canada won't be taking Mr. Miller's suggestion.

"Canada has been and will continue to be a reliable and responsible participant in UN initiatives around the world," the statement said.

But the statement also said the UN is in "slow decline" and Canada will voice its concerns. "The greatest enemies of the United Nations are those who quietly undermine its principles and, even worse, by those who sit idly, watching its slow decline," it said.

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About the Author
Chief political writer

Campbell Clark has been a political writer in The Globe and Mail’s Ottawa bureau since 2000. Before that he worked for The Montreal Gazette and the National Post. He writes about Canadian politics and foreign policy. More

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