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When Canada lost out to Portugal for a seat on the United Nations Security Council in 2010, it was regarded by many Canadians as confirmation of the country’s diminished stature in the world.

During the UN’s entire history, never before had Canada lost a bid for a temporary seat on the Security Council. Critics of Prime Minister Stephen Harper were quick to interpret the result as a repudiation of his foreign policy.

Since assuming office in 2006, Harper’s government had closed embassies and consulates, frozen aid spending and ­reduced the country’s…



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