An NDP government would conduct a full review of the role of the Canadian military once elected, according to the party’s former foreign affairs critic Paul Dewar.
“The NDP would consult our military as well as our diplomats to make sure there is some coherence in what our strategy is and then lay out the strategy and have defined goals,” said Dewar, who is running for re-election in Ottawa-Centre. Dewar added an NDP government would also consult with Parliament before moving forward on any plan.
NDP leader Tom Mulcair has given some indication of what that plan might include. He has already committed to pulling the plug on Canada’s current mission against ISIS, saying that Canada should only participate in UN Security Council-sanctioned missions.
The Conservatives strongly disagree with a UN-focused approach.
Conservative candidate Jason Kenney believes that the fact that Russia and China both have the power to veto the Security Council’s decisions means that it shouldn’t be used as a barometer for foreign policy. “I don’t believe we should be giving President Putin or the Chinese politburo a veto over Canadian security policy,” he said.
The United Nations used to have a much stronger role in Canadian military commitments. In August 1995, Canada had almost 3000 soldiers and police committed to UN peacekeeping operations, which made up 6 per cent of all United Nations peacekeepers. This August, there were only 116 – mostly police.
The Liberals won’t say how many more peacekeepers their government would commit to sending, but former NATO Peacekeeper and current Liberal candidate Harjit Sajjan said, “Our peacekeeping role needs to increase and we’ve got to make sure where Canada actually does play a role, we need to make sure our Canadian armed forces are well equipped for it.”
Dewar agrees the Canadian forces need better equipment, but believes that by having a reset to see what Canada is able to contribute, “You’ll see us be involved in a more responsible way, getting more results.”
The leaders of the three major political parties will debate Canadian foreign policy Monday night, as part of the Munk Debates.