The Calgary Journal
The Calgary Journal

Results surprise Calgary branch of United Nations Association in Canada

thumb unpicforwebCanada's Conservative government may have no greater ally than the people of Alberta in its ongoing criticism of the United Nations. But supporters of the international organization are now working to change that.

According to a statement obtained by QMI Agency, the government's criticism recently took the form of Canada chastising the United Nations for its "one-sided" treatment of Israel.

That criticism was prompted by the international organization's Human Rights Council sending a fact-finding mission to "investigate the implications of the Israeli settlements on the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of the Palestinian people."

But Canada's attacks on the United Nations have included Canada's Foreign Affairs Minister, John Baird's infamous speech criticising it for spending "too much time on itself," as well as Conservative MP suggesting Canada pull out of the international organization.

According to an online poll conducted by Abacus Data for Sun News, those criticisms may find the most support in Alberta where 27 per cent of residents have an unfavourable impression of the United Nations — the highest level in Canada.

un graphA bar graph depicting the unfavourability of the United Nations by province/region in Canada, from the results of an online poll done by Abacus Data.

Illustration by Paulina Liwiski
The Alberta sample of the poll was comparatively small — 100 out of the 1,008 randomly selected Canadian adults who participated in the survey.

Still, Melanie-Anne Bonnar, the president of the United Nations Association in Canada in Calgary, said that she was surprised by the results.

Bonnar believes the main reason for this lack of support is the inability of the United Nations Security Council reaching important decisions and resolving major world conflicts internationally.

But she pointed out: "The United Nations is so much more than just the Security Council. It's comprised of over 50 organizations, specialized agencies and programs that are doing a whole range of different services that are working towards the betterment of the world."

However, when asked about Albertans' lukewarm approach to the United Nations, David Coletto, CEO of Abacus Data noted it's hard to pinpoint what drives people's opinions about the international organization.

Coletto said Canada spends a lot of money on the United Nations and some Canadians are left wondering whether it is worth it.

"Canadians generally want to support the UN and they think it's important, but they scratch their heads when it does something unpredictable like appointing countries with questionable human rights records to the human rights commission."

Alternatively, Mount Royal University policy studies professor Duane Bratt said the findings are not surprising based on the polls that he has seen before.

Bratt said he believes the Conservative government's criticism of the United Nations has caused Albertans to feel this way.

"We can see that with the defeat of the Canadian bid to get on the Security Council as well as the speech that John Baird gave to the general assembly back in September criticizing the UN."

The Calgary branch of the United Nations Association in Canada will be looking into  solutions to improve its image in Alberta.

Bonnar said the group is trying to create more opportunities for the public to voice their concerns and opinions.

"The association will be focusing on engaging Calgary's youth on what the United Nations does and why it is so important for Canada to be continually involved in the United Nations."

Abacus conducted the online survey  between June 20 and 23, 2012. 

It had a margin of error of 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

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