(l to r) PDG Doug Vincent, Ambassador Michael Bonser & Patrick Travers

Today I was the moderator for a United Nations session, which focused on Canadian global issues at the UN. One of our Canada UN Officials, Michael Bonser, did a great job of explaining the role that Canada plays on this government stage.

The room was overflowing with interested participants but unfortunately, due to space limitations, not all of the 300 Canadians here in NYC were able to participate. The discussions were very interesting regarding Canada's view on global/UN issues and what we are doing to try to influence a better world via our UN presence.

Bonser gave everyone a warm welcome and was happy to acknowledge that that his father had been a Rotarian for several years.  Further, it was a Rotary Club in New Brunswick, which sponsored his teenage hockey team.  So he was well aware of our Rotary organization and the good work we do.

He feels it is important to have a forum like the United Nations to have global dialogue between countries.  Each group needs to listen and hear the various points of view, even though it can often be a slow process.  Global problems need global solutions and the UN is the only place for all nations to discuss their issues and have equal voting rights.

Bonser shared that the UN's best work happens in the field, working with people they are trying to help.  The development side of foreign affairs is important and Canada needs to monitor our investment.  Our country is in the top 10 of donors to the UN and we want to ensure active participation with some influence on UN activities, while protecting our interests and monitor our investment.

Trying to avoid wasteful spending is a concern, especially with some issues from the past.  So Canada always tries to hold NGOs and organizations feet to the fire to ensure funds are spent wisely.  Currently Canada allocates over $1 billion to developmental aid and is the 7th leading donor country to the United Nations.  So we can be proud of our nation and its contribution to a better world.

At the UN Canada wants to share their values of: Freedom, Democracy, Human Rights and Rule of Law.  Our interests include protecting: Law of the Seas, Border Sovereignty, Fissile Material, Environment, Climate Change and International Conflict. Canada also attempts to follow and influence international agreements to protect our interests and economy.

During our session, the issue of CIDA and our CRCID was briefly discussed.  While Bonser had no knowledge of the details he offered to check and advise how our CRCID might continue to function within their new foreign affairs structure.  For those who may not know, CIDA was merged with another government department, thus ending our CRCID as we have known it.

Finally, we learned that because of the G8 summit in Canada there was a "Muskoka Initative" promoted by Canada to address global issues of Maternal and Child Health.  Apparently, this has moved forward to the UN for further discussion and development.

That ends our first day of UN meetings and we look forward to meeting over 1300 Rotarians and friends at our session tomorrow.  Following the meetings, we will enjoy a Canadian Fellowship Dinner Cruise on the Hudson River.  I look forward to greeting many of our global Rotary friends who plan to join us.