KEHRSATZ, Switzerland — Prime Minister Stephen Harper insisted on the eve of the La Francophonie summit here Friday that he will be rubbing elbows with Canada’s strongest supporters in its failed bid to win a United Nations Security Council bid.
“Switzerland, for instance, strongly supported us, as did the vast majority of countries of the Francophonie — very strongly supported Canada’s bid,” he said while standing next to Swiss President Doris Leuthard after a bilateral meeting.
“For those who did not, we obviously respect their decision.”
Mr. Harper’s comment clashed with speculation that French-speaking Africa snubbed Canada on the secret ballot because Ottawa had shifted foreign aid emphasis away from Africa.
Canada didn’t mention the position of French President Nicolas Sarkozy, the most powerful member of the alliance of 56 francophone or francophile states and governments, and 14 observer countries.
There has also been speculation that the 27-member European Union voted mostly in favour of EU members Germany and Portugal in the secret ballot.
Mr. Harper didn’t say how he knew for certain the Francophonie members backed Canada. Canadian officials said 150 UN members had given a written declaration of support, but only 114 backed Canada on the first ballot.
Canada’s candidacy was withdrawn when support fell to 78 votes in the second round.
Mr. Harper, asked if he will take steps to repair Canada’s image, said the government’s foreign policy will continue to be driven by the promotion of Canadian values.
Harper also said he conditionally supports current high-level negotiations with Taliban leaders taking place this week in Kabul.
Canada will back any deal as long as the Taliban agree to lay down their weapons and accept the Afghan constitution, which protects human rights.
“Obviously, any agreement along those lines would be something Canada would strongly support.”
Mr. Harper and Ms. Leuthard announced two agreements, one on air transportation and the other amending the Canada-Switzerland double taxation convention.
He also said he discussed with her the investigation of alleged Canadian tax evasion involving an estimated 1,500 Canadian-registered Swiss bank accounts at HSBC.
The probe was triggered by revelations from a former HSBC employee who took the records and handed them over to French investigators, who are co-operating with Canadian officials.
Harper says Canadian values will determine foreign policyIn Canada on October 22, 2010 at 10:27