Should Canada take the United States’ lead and boycott UNESCO?

In response to UNESCO's decision to admit Palestine as a full member state Monday, the U.S. announced that it was cutting a planned $60 million budget payment to the United Nations cultural agency.

The United States argues that Palestine's inclusion, by a vote of 107 to 14 with 52 abstentions, is premature and that Palestinian statehood should emerge from negotiations with Israel, not from acts by third parties or international groups.

Should Canada follow suit and pull its funding?

UNESCO's programs include international teacher training, literacy campaigns, scientific studies and efforts to preserve significant archaeological sites. It also leads global efforts to bring clean water to the poor, promotes educational and curriculum building in the developing world, and manages a tsunami early warning system in the Pacific, among other important tasks.

Canada has been a member of UNESCO since its founding in 1946 and funds to the tune of $10 million a year.

In a statement Monday afternoon, foreign affairs minister John Baird says he appreciates much of the work UNESCO undertakes, but is having second thoughts., the Canadian Press reports.

"We are not happy with the decision UNESCO has made, and we have to look and see what we should do in response," Baird said.

"I think UNESCO does important work that our government can support, but we are not happy with this decision, so we are in the midst of looking at our future participation," he said.

Opposition parties in Ottawa meanwhile, are calling on the federal government not to cut ties to the agency.

"The reality is that we're not going to get ourselves into a situation where we're cutting funding every time we get a resolution out of the UN that we don't like," interim Liberal Leader Bob Rae told QMI Agency.

And NDP foreign affairs critic Helene Laverdiere argued the Tory government had to get out of "the habit of burning bridges" and not to quit its UNESCO membership.

"When you have a problem with something, you still have to stay at the table," she said.

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