The Trudeau government today announced Canada is ready to resume a larger role in international peacekeeping operations. The commitment comes in the form of more money and more troops for UN missions around the world.
Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan and Foreign Affairs Minister Stephane Dion unveiled the plan to commit up to 600 Canadian soldiers to future peacekeeping missions. The military commitment includes engineers, medical units along with equipment such as helicopters and planes. It represents a dramatic increase over the 19 Canadian troops deployed on peacekeeping missions at the end of July. It brings Canada back up to the number of Canadians wearing the blue berets in the 1990s and early 2000s.
The government is also making a $450-million, three-year pledge for projects that promote peace and security around the world. That would include deployment of up to 150 police officers and civilian experts. The UN says a total of 75 Canadians were involved in such missions at the end of July.
The opposition conservatives are criticizing the liberals plan. They issued a statement today saying this is really about advancing the Liberals’ political goal to secure a position on the United Nations Security Council.
The Tories say it means Canadian troops could be placed in some of the most dangerous regions of the world, without responding to any pressing need in Canada’s national interest.
Here is the full statement from National Defence Critic James Bezan:
“Today’s announcement confirms that the Liberals are willing to deploy Canadian Armed Forces personnel to advance their own political goals. They have blindly pledged 600 Canadian troops to a ‘possible deployment’ in an effort to secure a position on the United Nation’s Security Council.
“This announcement could place Canadian troops in some of the most dangerous regions of the world, without responding to any pressing need in Canada’s national interest. Rather than appeasing UN bureaucrats, Canada’s contributions to the United Nations must be made in order to promote and protect Canadian values.
“The Liberals’ assertion that ‘Canada is back’ is mindboggling and offensive to the great work that has been carried out by members of Canada’s foreign services over the past decade. Under the previous Conservative government, Canada was the second largest donor to the United Nation’s World Food Aid program, and was a leader in providing international disaster relief, improving the status of women, maternal and child health in developing countries, and standing up against forced, early and child marriages. The Canadian Armed Forces also took a leadership role fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan, ISIS in Iraq and Syria, and made a significant contribution to NATO assurance measures and supporting Ukraine against Russian aggression.
“The Liberals’ nostalgic and blind commitment to United Nations peacekeeping demonstrates that their defence policy review was nothing more than a strategy to carry out their own predetermined policies. During the more than 40 defence roundtables Conservatives held over the summer, peacekeeping missions were never raised as a priority. Instead, Canadians across the country agreed that the primary focus of the Canadian Armed Forces must be defending Canada and our allies.
“Despite Minister Sajjan’s weeklong fact finding mission in Africa, the government still cannot answer many of the questions posed by Canadians; instead they have raised new concerns.
“Today’s announcement provides absolutely no details as to where, when or even why our troops will be deployed. The Liberals must answer basic questions such as what will the mission entail? What are the rules of engagement? Who will we be working with? Will there be a vote in Parliament?
“Instead, all we have learned is that the Liberals are sending almost half a billion dollars to the United Nations, at a time when that investment is desperately needed at home.”