Trudeau government’s inaction on peacekeeping absent from National Peacekeeping Day tribute
Early Wednesday morning, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s office released a glowing statement paying homage to the “strong Canadian tradition” of peacekeeping, despite his government’s complete stall in terms of deploying peacekeepers.
The Liberals pledged in August 2016 nearly half a billion dollars and up to 600 soldiers toward United Nations peacekeeping operations, following an election promise to steer the country back toward its international reputation as a peacekeeping stalwart.
“Under [previous prime minister] Stephen Harper, Canada has dramatically scaled back its involvement in peace operations – a decision that could not come at a worse time,” the Liberal election platform read.
“As the number of violent conflicts in the world escalates, demand for international peace operations has never been greater.”
At one time, peacekeeping was almost synonymous with Canada; former prime minister Lester B. Pearson is sometimes credited with spearheading the notion of peacekeeping (and won a Nobel Peace Prize for his work in the area).
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Today, however, after more than a year and a half of promises, neither Trudeau nor his cabinet has taken the step of actually sending any of the soldiers, police officers or military equipment to take part in a mission – despite a pledge to have done so by the end of last year.
The UN asked Canada last year to contribute much-needed transport helicopters for its mission in Mali, where roadside bombs and other improvised explosives pose significant dangers to peacekeepers.
When Canada failed to make a decision, other countries such as Belgium and Germany moved to fill the gap on a short-term basis to buy time for Canada to finalize its plans.
“Our history of peacekeeping goes back … to our earliest missions to build peace and security across the globe,” Trudeau’s statement reads, as he delves into the history books.
The statement recalls the first time Canada deployed peacekeepers; it was 1949, and they were sent to Kashmir to help calm a dispute between India and Pakistan.
“Over the years, Canadian peacekeepers have helped monitor ceasefires, protect the most vulnerable from the ravages of war, and build the foundations of peace.”
While at the United Nations in May, Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan reiterated his government’s “commitment” to peacekeeping operations and the United Nations.
WATCH: Canada committed to peacekeeping despite lack of overall plan, says Sajjan
“When we make a plan and make a contribution, this isn’t just about checking a box,” he told reporters. “We need to make sure that we have the right plan, have the right discussions moving forward. Because we want to make sure we provide a meaningful contribution.”
Then in June, the Liberal government unveiled its long-awaited long-term defence policy. Still no details, just another repeating of its goal to “lead and/or contribute to international peace operations” with the UN, NATO and other international partners.
Sajjan’s office did not respond Wednesday morning to a request for any updates to the government’s peacekeeping plans.
With files from The Canadian Press
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