Trudeau to com­mit troops to global peace­keep­ing mis­sions

The Globe and Mail (Ottawa/Quebec Edition) - - FRONT PAGE - STEVEN CHASE OT­TAWA IAN BAI­LEY VAN­COU­VER

Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau will an­nounce Wed­nes­day that Canada will com­mit sol­diers and equip­ment to as­sist a num­ber of peace­keep­ing op­er­a­tions around the world rather than de­vot­ing all of the coun­try’s pledged re­sources to one mis­sion.

These com­mit­ments will be dif­fer­ent from tra­di­tional de­ploy­ments and may be more of a supporting or spe­cial­ized role that can be used wher­ever needed.

One source fa­mil­iar with plans said Cana­dian ex­per­tise will be of­fered to help where needed as op­posed to com­mit­ting to one spe­cific place only.

There will be spe­cific con­tri­bu­tions that will in­volve cer­tain de­ploy­ments and troop com­mit­ments in strate­gic ar­eas.

But Canada will de­part from the prac­tice of coun­tries that pick one coun­try and con­trib­ute to a con­tin­u­ing mis­sion, the source said.

Canada pledged $400-mil­lion and 600 sol­diers for fu­ture peace­keep­ing mis­sions in Au­gust, 2016, and Mr. Trudeau’s speech in Van­cou­ver will lay out ex­am­ples of where troops and as­sets will be de­ployed.

The pledge would go be­yond ground op­er­a­tions.

The Lib­eral gov­ern­ment has faced calls from Ukrainian-Cana­di­ans as well as the Of­fi­cial Op­po­si­tion to lead a peace­keep­ing mis­sion to war-torn east­ern Ukraine to help sta­bi­lize the con­flict be­tween Kiev and Rus­sian-backed bel­liger­ents.

On Tues­day, as del­e­gates from 80 coun­tries con­vened for a ma­jor peace­keep­ing sum­mit in Van­cou­ver, for­mer gen­eral Roméo Dal­laire said Canada needs to step up its peace­keep­ing com­mit­ments to the United Na­tions.

“We’re a world-lead­ing mid­dle power. It is in­con­ceiv­able that we hold our ca­pa­bil­i­ties within our bor­ders,” Mr. Dal­laire told re­porters dur­ing a break in the gath­er­ing. “Great na­tions are not na­tions that hold their ca­pa­bil­i­ties back.”

Mr. Dal­laire, who was in com­mand of an ill-fated 1990s UN peace­keep­ing mis­sion in Rwanda that failed to pre­vent geno­cide in that coun­try, said Canada “got out of the busi­ness” of peace­keep­ing as it fo­cused its en­ergy else­where, but needs to re-en­gage de­spite the risks of ca­su­al­ties.

“Everybody must be con­scious of the fact that if you’re go­ing to send peace­keep­ers in, you may face ca­su­al­ties. If you’re not pre­pared for that, don’t send them.”

Mr. Dal­laire, a for­mer sen­a­tor, de­clined to com­ment specif­i­cally on ex­pec­ta­tions around the fed­eral Lib­eral com­mit­ments on Wed­nes­day, say­ing only, “We’ll see how the po­lit­i­cal elite of this coun­try is han­dling this de­mand.”

But the Liberals are un­der po­lit­i­cal pres­sure to ful­fill their prom­ise. On Tues­day, the NDP is­sued a state­ment by for­eign-af­fairs critic Hélène Laverdière and na­tional-de­fence critic Ran­dall Gar­ri­son, say­ing “if Canada’s of­fer at this week’s meet­ing is lim­ited to just equip­ment and train­ing, this will be yet an­other bro­ken prom­ise.”

But a se­nior UN of­fi­cial told The Cana­dian Press he ap­proves of the ex­pected Cana­dian com­mit­ment, not­ing that many mis­sions are short on the type of high-end equip­ment and staff Canada can of­fer.

“It is pre­cisely in these high-tech­nol­ogy ar­eas – en­gi­neers, hos­pi­tals and doc­tors, strate­gic air­lift and tac­ti­cal air­lift – that de­vel­oped coun­tries have the largest con­tri­bu­tion to make sim­ply be­cause they have the ca­pac­ity,” said Atul Khare, the UN’s un­der­sec­re­tary-gen­eral for field sup­port.

“And I do see a great ad­van­tage of dis­tribut­ing that ca­pac­ity be­cause through dis­tri­bu­tion of that ca­pac­ity, the gaps are bet­ter filled glob­ally.

“Rather than only mak­ing one mis­sion 100 per cent, you im­prove many mis­sions from, say, 70 per cent to 80 per cent, which is a bet­ter way of im­prov­ing the sit­u­a­tion glob­ally.”

As he was wrap­ping up his visit to the Philip­pines for the As­so­ci­a­tion of South­east Asian Na­tions sum­mit, Mr. Trudeau said on Tues­day that Canada’s con­tri­bu­tion would en­sure “max­i­mal pos­i­tive im­pact, not just for Cana­dian con­tri­bu­tions but for all peace­keep­ers.” In remarks to a con­fer­ence fo­rum in Van­cou­ver, fed­eral De­fence Min­is­ter Har­jit Sa­j­jan of­fered no de­tails on Canada’s plans, but touted the idea of ex­tend­ing new roles for women and youth in peace­keep­ing.

Rachel Grimes, a mil­i­tary-gen­der of­fi­cer in the peace­keep­ing op­er­a­tions depart­ment of the United Na­tions, told a fo­rum that only 3 per cent of UN peace­keep­ers are women.

“I am stag­gered that in 2017 our peace­keep­ing force are 97-per-cent male,” Lieu­tenant-Colonel Grimes, adding that is not re­flec­tive of so­ci­eties that re­quire peace­keep­ing.

“An all-male force, an all-male pa­trol go­ing through a vil­lage will not have the same im­pact as a mixed pa­trol. Hav­ing a mixed pa­trol will make it easier for women and girls and men and boys to en­gage with the United Na­tions.”

DAR­RYL DYCK/THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

Re­tired lieu­tenant-gen­eral Roméo Dal­laire, cen­tre, and De­fence Min­is­ter Har­jit Sa­j­jan, far right, at­tend the 2017 United Na­tions Peace­keep­ing De­fence Min­is­te­rial con­fer­ence in Van­cou­ver on Tues­day.

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