With the UN Security Council election set to take place in a week, Canada's success or failure in the vote could have a lasting effect on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's foreign policy legacy in what may be a “barometer” on Canada's place in the world. If Canada is to fall short of the necessary 129 votes needed to win a temporary spot on the Security Council, it would likely mean that Canada won't have a place on the body over a 30-year period, last appearing on the council in 2000. Until its loss in the 2010 vote, Canada had been on the Security Council in every decade since 1946. Since making a pledge in 2016 to re-engage with the United Nations and make a bid for a Security Council seat, the campaign has been one of the main cornerstone's of Mr. Trudeau's (Papineau, Que.) foreign policy and was included in the throne speech in December. Former Canadian diplomat Colin Robertson told The Hill Times that if Canada is successful, it will give Mr. Trudeau a boost with added weight on the international stage. Canada's Ambassador to the UN, Marc-André Blanchard, was appointed to the New York City post in 2016. United Nations photograph by JC McIlwaine “Like most leaders in their second term, they want to spend more time doing international work,” said Mr. Robertson, who in a more than 30-year career in Canada’s foreign service had postings to Canada’s mission at the UN. “If he's able to win this, I think that gives him a bit more clout on the international stage.” The UN Security Council election is set to take place on June 17 with Canada competing with Ireland and Norway for two non-permanent seats in the 2021 and 2022 term in the Western Europe and Others bloc. Unlike the leaders of Ireland and Norway, Mr. Trudeau has made the campaign a personal test, Mr. Robertson said, and the end result—win or lose—will fall at his feet. “It's the one foreign policy venture that is truly his,” Mr. Robertson said. “He made the decision to do this and he has worked very hard , particularly in the last six months.” As Mr. Trudeau has contended with the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic, he has taken time to speak with some world leaders about Canada's campaign for the Security Council seat. Carleton University international affairs professor Fen Osler Hampson said given the loss in 2010, if Canada does win a seat on the council it will be a seen as a “big win.” But he said a victory will be more of a commentary on Marc-André Blanchard, Canada's UN ambassador, than on Mr. Trudeau. “ has been working assiduously to court various UN members,” he said. “We've been strategically opportunistic—which you have to be in these campaigns,” said Prof. Hampson, referencing intentional aid announcements during the pandemic and Canada's co-chairing of a high-level May 28 UN meeting with Secretary-General António Guterres and Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness on economic devastation brought on by the pandemic. Mr. Robertson said the election will serve as a “barometer” on Canada's popularity on the international stage. Jocelyn Coulon, a former policy adviser to past foreign affairs minister Stéphane Dion and author of Canada is Not Back: How Justin Trudeau is in Over His Head on Foreign Policy, said the vote could be seen as a referendum on how other countries view Canada. “A loss will signal that Canada has few friends and does not have a lot of clout on the world stage. It will certainly be a judgement on a lack of strong presence in the world because of poor record.” “I think the campaign for the Security Council is like a campaign in a national election. You have to deliver things and you have to promise things,” Mr. Coulon said. “I think Canada has promised a lot and not delivered.” He added that he didn't think the result in next week's election will have a large impact on Mr. Trudeau's foreign policy legacy. Without many overarching initiatives on the world stage, the prime minister will bring little to the Security Council in order to build a legacy, Mr. Coulon said. “The Trudeau government has basically done what the Conservatives have done during their stay in power,” he said, adding that unlike past governments who won a seat on the Security Council—like the governments of Brian Mulroney and Jean Chrétien—there are few initiatives to press forward on while sitting on the body. Prof. Hampson said the campaigns are more referendums on long-standing reputations than a certain leader's foreign policy. “The rest of the world is not micro-viewing Canadian foreign policy,” he said, noting that there are some issues that will be hot-button concerns for voting nations, but they will more likely be looking at what Canada will do for them on councils away from the Security Council. “They will not just be looking at the little picture, but also the big picture,” he said. Vote could alter Canada's image as traditional Security Council nation, say experts Foreign policy experts told The Hill Times that a loss in next week's vote could mean a shift in the view of Canada as a regular participant on the Security Council. “If you lose next week, we could be absent for another 10 years,” Mr. Coulon said. Prof. Hampson said the hit to Canada's image would be more domestic than international. Former diplomat Colin Robertson says Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has made a spot for Canada on the UN Security Council a personal test. The Hill Times photograph by Sam Garcia “I think in terms of our image of ourselves, will be damaging,” he said. “It's part of our DNA and this will be seen as quite damaging to that DNA in terms of our own national identity.” A number of issues complicate Canada's path to winning the vote. It is an outlier in a group of Western European countries and Canada was a late entry in the campaign. Mr. Robertson said there are open questions if Canada was doomed from the start of its campaign due to its late entry. The Trudeau government’s Security Council campaign kicked off in 2016, years after Ireland and Norway launched their campaigns in 2005 and 2007, respectively. Norway is thought to be a guaranteed winner of one of the seats, leaving Canada to compete with Ireland for the other. “The Irish have distinguished themselves of late, the same way the New Zealanders did when they ran successfully, as that represents small nations,” Mr. Robertson said. “The fact that we're neither big nor small—we're just kind of in the middle—is a disadvantage because the Norwegians and Irish can say, 'we represent smaller interests' and we don't have a natural constituency.” He added that Mr. Trudeau has tried to establish a constituency with La Francophonie and the Commonwealth—in particular, with Commonwealth nations in the Caribbean. Prof. Hampson said Canada's larger foreign affairs budget could prove to be an advantage. “The Irish have been running a very good campaign, a very slick campaign. They certainty got their oar in the water very early. But when all is said and done, Canada has deeper pockets,” he said, citing Canada's larger official development assistance budget. Prof. Hampson said if Canada does in fact win the June 17 vote, it will have to wrestle with how to operate within a dysfunctional Security Council. “This may be a classic case of: 'I won the auction, but I don't want the prize.'” “The Security Council, as we've seen, has gone from deadlock to deadlock,” he said. “It only really works when the great powers are willing to work together. Certainly the key three—China, Russia, and the United States—are at loggerheads.” “The risk we run is we're going to be there, but there's not going to be a whole lot to do,” Prof. Hampson said. firstname.lastname@example.org The Hill Times CORRECTION: This article previously misstated that 128 votes are required to win a seat on the UN Security Council. The correct number is 129. The Hill Times apologizes for this error.