United Nations headquarters in New York City, apparently as good a place as any for Canada to make an international fool of itself. Below: Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Russian President Vladimir Putin shirtfront a pair of arboreal herbivorous marsupials in Brisbane. Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper does the same thing.

Can someone please explain why Canada was one of three countries to vote Friday against a United Nations resolution condemning the glorification of Nazism?

The resolution, which censures attempts to glorify Nazi ideology and denial of German crimes during the Second World War, was passed by the General Assembly committee that deals with human rights abuses by a vote of 115 to three, with 55 nations abstaining.

If you’re having a WTF moment, rest assured I’m not making this up. This is not fake news. It is the real McCoy, and it’s been widely reported – in Russia. You can read about it on RT or ITAR-TASS. Here is the UN’s own report of the meeting.

The Canadian media, however, apparently doesn’t think this is an important story, if they are even aware of it. Leastways, there seems to have been very little Canadian coverage of this story, which, if I may be so bold, is odd given the media’s normal fascination with anything to do with Nazis.

Actually, we can begin to puzzle out why Canada voted against this resolution when we know the identities of the other two countries that voted the same way: the United States and Ukraine. Probably not coincidentally, the U.S. media also seems completely uninterested in the story.

It is also helpful to know who put the resolution on the agenda. That would be Russia.

Knowing this much, we can begin to see the general outlines of what was really going on when Canada’s representatives cast their bizarre vote at the General Assembly’s Third Committee.

As is well understood, notwithstanding much rhetorical mumbo-jumbo by many interested parties to obfuscate what is really going on, there is a civil war in Eastern Ukraine. Casualties have been high, including many Westerners in a passenger aircraft that was shot down by someone, who or why not being 100 per cent certain despite the confident and contradictory claims of both sides.

Russia is backing one side. The United States and its NATO allies, including Canada, are backing the other. Both blame the other for the situation and the casualties. So it is simply impossible for most Canadians, even those with some knowledge and a lively interest in the situation, to be confident which version of events is true.

While much of this story is murky, we can say a few things with reasonable confidence:

  • The previous government of Ukraine tilted toward the Russians
  • The current government of Ukraine was put in place in a coup, which we are told was led by people who wanted to tilt toward the West
  • The coup and the current government are supported by some quite unsavoury groups, including neo-Nazi paramilitary organizations that use Nazi symbols on their uniforms and regalia
  • Prime Minister Stephen Harper is passionate in his support for the coup government

Indeed, Mr. Harper may be so passionate in his support for the current Ukrainian government and the fact its economic program meshes with his neoliberal idea of “economic freedom” that he is willing to overlook, intentionally or not, certain glaring failings on the part of some of its key players.

This is part of a pattern with Mr. Harper, of course, that is often visible in other policy areas as well.

As for the Russians, who despite myriad flaws of their own have an obvious strategic interest in the country next door with its significant population of Russian-speaking citizens, they seem to have been fairly successful in outmaneuvering the Ukrainian regime’s Western backers since their initial failure in allowing the coup to take place last February.

When Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, a former boxer, blustered that he would “shirtfront” Russian President Vladimir Putin about this situation at the G20 meeting earlier this month in Brisbane, Mr. Putin, a black belt in judo, shirtfronted him.

(Shirtfronting is apparently an Australianism meaning something along the lines of “punch your lights out.” As an aside, just as you can generally bet on a boxer in a scrap with a karate black belt, it pays to bet on the judoka in a fight with a boxer – especially when he brings a flotilla of nuclear-armed warships with him.)

Mr. Harper was so furious about this in Brisbane that he apparently stomped his little foot and acted like a Parliamentary page with a “STOP Putin” sign, no doubt provoking general hilarity back at the Kremlin.

Knowing what we all know about Ukrainian neo-Nazi units’ role in Ukraine’s civil war, the Russian sponsored resolution was doubtless mischievous in intent – and apparently quite successfully so!

Canada should have followed the example of Israel, which supported the motion regardless of its source and quietly moved on. Our representatives would even have done better to imitated the moral cowards of the European Union and Australia and abstained from the vote.

But, oh no! Mr. Harper’s government, with its immature fondness for wedge politics at home and inflexible market fundamentalist ideology everywhere, didn’t have the subtlety for even that.

So, along with our Great Neighbours to the South, we blundered right into Russia’s snare and now look to all the world like perfect pair of prats – or much worse!

Alert readers will recall that the members of the UN didn’t want Canada occupying a non-permanent seat on the Security Council back in 2010, something that would have been a cinch before the Harper crowd came along. Well, I don’t think this latest development is going to help us recover from that embarrassment!

In the mean time, Canadians deserve to know: Is the government of Canada against the glorification of Nazism, or not? If we are, why did we vote against the resolution? Perhaps those might be useful questions for someone to ask in the House of Commons this afternoon.

This post also appears on Rabble.ca.

Join the Conversation


    1. I don’t know enough about the Durban resolutions at this moment to comment on them, but I am extremely skeptical of this claim for the simple reason, as noted in my story, that Israel voted for the resolution. I doubt that country would have voted for a resolution that was Anti-Semitic in intent, even if only in sneaky ways. No, this is about denying the reality of who constitutes the current Ukrainian government to Canadians and to disguise our government’s support for the brutal marketization of that country as a fight for freedom. Some freedom!

  1. Dear Mr. Climenhaga,

    Why are you surprised?

    You need to take a good look at the history of the place you inhabit!

    Do you know which person the longest serving prime minister of canada admired the most? Do you know what work the longest serving prime minister did before he became prime minister?

    I think once one investigates these questions, you will not be surprised with the above vote in the General Assembly of the United Nations….

  2. As someone who has spent more time in Australia than he cares to admit, let me explain “shirtfronting”. In Australian Rules Football, a combination of rugby and soccer played on a cricket field with 18 players to a side, shirtfronting is a means by which players trash talk and try to intimidate an opponent face to face on the field. Tony Abbott, neoliberal Prime Minister of Australia announced to the Aussie people he was going to shirtfront Vladimir Putin at the G20 Summit.

    Had he actually done so, Putin, the karate expert might have drilled Tony’s head and receding hairline straight into the tiled floor. Many Aussies would have cheered.

    1. Just a point of information. President Putin is a black belt in judo, not karate. Mr. Abbott is supposedly a boxer, an activity that involves being repeatedly hit in the head. Speaking here as a karate black belt, I believe a boxer will usually beat a karate black belt in a fight in a ring. Justin Trudeau’s famous victory over what’s his name, the former senator, is a good example of why the smart money should be placed on the boxer in such a contest. You may not win every bet, but over time you’ll make money. A judo black belt, however, in my opinion, will usually beat a boxer. I’m unsure as to what would happen if a karate black belt fought a judo black belt. Never seen one of those. DJC

  3. I can only assume the “F” word in your deployment of the term “WTF” refers to the word “frig” or “fuddle duddle” or “fire truck.”

    On the subject of Nazism and Ukraine, some people consider the Ukrainian ultra-nationalists to be worse than the Nazis when it came to ethnic cleansing. Today their heirs have pushed themselves to the forefront in the new Kiev coup regime. Very disturbing that Canada is even in the same room with these guys let alone supporting them. WTF?

    P.S. Turns out one of the new Gestapo chiefs in Kiev is a big Joseph Goebbels fan.


  4. Please don’t let your opposition to the Harper government blind you to the reality of Russia’s continuing attacks on Ukraine. Why did Canada vote against this Russian UN resolution? Because it is just another part of Putin’s Orwellian campaign to tell the big lie on Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, that somehow Russia is fighting neo-fascism.
    It pains me to have to state the obvious, but Russia is the better example of a proto-fascist regime than Ukraine. Which country, for example, bans LGBT activism? Russia. Which country has curtailed an independent media? Russia. Which country has annexed another country’s territory? Russia. As to support for far right parties, in the last two elections in Ukraine, May Presidential, and Oct Parliamentary, the far right parties got almost no support. And before anyone complains that these elections were somehow not legitimate, I’ll note that Edmonton NDP MP Linda Duncan was an OSCE election observer in Ukraine in October.

  5. Timothy Snyder on this: “To Understand Putin, Read Orwell: Ukraine, Russia and the Big Lie.”
    “Russia is making war to save the world from fascism. (In fact, it is in Russia where the far right it exerts dictatorial power, the head of state enunciates a Hitlerian doctrine of invading another country to protect ethnic brethren. Russia’s political allies are Europe’s far right parties, including the fascists and neo-Nazis.) Meanwhile: fascism is good. (In Russia, Hitler is now being rehabilitated as a statesman, the Jews are being blamed for the Holocaust, gays are presented as an international conspiracy, Russian Nazis march on May Day and Russian Nazis in Ukraine are presented as heroes.)”

  6. Where the Harperistas are concerned, making sense doesn’t count. Only ideology does. Wait a minute…that sounds awfully familiar.

    While Abbott didn’t get around to shirtfronting Putin – somebody probably took him aside and told him not to act like such a dill – Harper simply couldn’t resist. Does this kind of nonsense actually play well to The Base back home? Angels and ministers of grace, defend us!

    The pro-Nazi vote makes the government look like drongos, though.

    Has anyone spoken to PETA about the marsupial herbivore and Glorious Leader? It shouldn’t be allowed.

  7. David, you have it all wrong. This is about freedom of speech, pure and simple. Every person should be able to let his/her ‘freak flag fly’ without fear of reprisal. First they came for the nazis, and I didn’t say anything; then they came for the …. You get the picture. The conservatives were getting nervous that a slippery slope was being created.
    And, I don’t think I would be using Israel as a moral bellwether these days. Just because they sign off on something does not grant it imprimatur.

  8. Just to remind everyone here, the Soviet Union was Canada’s ally during World War II. If your position is against Russian aggression in Ukraine, who is in the pro-western camp in Ukraine isn’t the most important consideration.

    Furthermore, I find abstaining this vote more despicable than voting against it. Abstaining simply means you don’t want to support it, but is afraid of the backlash.

  9. I really don’t understand what this sensationalist headline has to do with the content of the story. Real information would be helpful! What exactly was the resolution that Canada voted against in the UN? The whole resolution…not an excerpt!

  10. More Ukrainians were killed fighting the German Wehrmacht than American, British, Canadian, and French soldiers combined.
    Canada lost 45,400 military. Ukraine lost between 1.6 million and 2.5 million. For every Canadian killed, Ukraine lost between 36 and 55 soldiers.
    Why would Ukrainians support the Nazis?

  11. So when did you become a Putin cheerleader, Climenhaga? For starters, what do you admire most – the denial of basic human rights to the GLBT community in Russia, or all of the murdered journalists that have dared be critical of Putin’s regime? It’s funny how you seem to approve of Russia’s pathetic gunboat diplomacy (“especially when he brings a flotilla of nuclear-armed warships with him”), but I know you would have been howling with outrage had a NATO country done the same to Russia. I’m sure that a couple of rust-bucket warships really had other world leaders quaking in their boots – the Russians are lucky that they didn’t break down on their way out of port. It’s funny how your hatred of Harper, Abbott, et al. has made you a public apologist for one of the most sociopathic, corrupt and dangerous world leaders we have the misfortune of having to deal with today.

    Because of your blinkered “progressive” ideology and hatred, I know that you are being willfully obtuse and misleading about the reason for Canada, the US and the Ukraine voting against the Russian-sponsored resolution (and the EU and Australia abstaining). We both know it is because the resolution had ZERO credibility, and was purely a political stunt. It is about as valid as Gian Ghomeshi popping into the House of Commons to propose a bill banning violence/abuse against women. The Russian showboating (literally and figuratively) deserves no attention, and fortunately has received little to none from the western media. (No big surprise that the fawning, state-controlled Russian media lapped it up!)

    It’s a very sad day when a “progressive” writes glowingly about the antics of a repressive quasi-dictatorship, but then again most “progressives” aren’t nearly as principled as they like to flatter themselves as being. What did Put- I mean, Stalin, call people like you? Oh yeah, polezniye duraki! Maybe you should stick to the dojo, Climenhaga. You’ve obviously lost any sense of reasoned analysis, or for that matter, reality.

    1. But if the proposal was so bad, why did Israel vote for it? Sure it’s probably a stunt by the Russians to try and shame the Ukraine (as Dave pointed out) but the Israeli vote is quite the spanner in the works as far as your theory goes – remember, they are hand in glove with Canada (read, Harper) and, despite Obama, are still close allies with the U.S. So if it was such a black and white move, you would think Israel would be on ‘our’ side, wouldn’t you?

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