Canada won’t be rushed into peace­keep­ing mis­sion: Sa­j­jan

Truro Daily News - - CANADA -

The Trudeau gov­ern­ment will not be rushed into mak­ing a de­ci­sion on where to send Cana­dian peace­keep­ers, De­fence Min­is­ter Har­jit Sa­j­jan says.

“When we send troops any­where, we want to make sure that we’re mak­ing a right de­ci­sion,” Sa­j­jan said Wed­nes­day in St. John’s, N.L., where fed­eral min­is­ters are hold­ing a cab­i­net re­treat.

“We want to have the right im­pact. This is a com­plex sit­u­a­tion. When we have the ap­pro­pri­ate in­for­ma­tion we’ll make an an­nounce­ment on that.”

The com­ments come as the clock ticks down to a ma­jor peace­keep­ing meet­ing in Vancouver in Novem­ber that is only open to coun­tries that have or are ready to pledge spe­cific forces to UN mis­sions.

Sa­j­jan’s of­fice would not com­mit to the gov­ern­ment mak­ing a de­ci­sion by the Nov. 14 Vancouver con­fer­ence.

Canada was given per­mis­sion to host the meet­ing last year af­ter the Trudeau gov­ern­ment said it would make up to 600 troops avail­able to var­i­ous peace­keep­ing mis­sions. Early signs pointed to Canada send­ing a large num­ber of troops to Mali and train­ers to var­i­ous other African coun­tries to help their mil­i­taries be­come bet­ter at peace­keep­ing.

But the Lib­er­als have in­stead waf­fled for over a year on where to de­ploy, spark­ing frus­tra­tion and even anger from var­i­ous al­lies and the UN, who have been wait­ing for a de­ci­sion.

They say Canada’s foot-drag­ging has ham­pered mis­sion plan­ning and left crit­i­cal gaps in terms of per­son­nel and equip­ment on the ground, es­pe­cially in Mali.

Mul­ti­ple of­fi­cials at the De­fence De­part­ment have told The Cana­dian Press that the file has been taken out of the mil­i­tary’s hands and now rests with Global Af­fairs Canada and the Prime Min­is­ter’s Of­fice.

The gov­ern­ment re­mains com­mit­ted to peace­keep­ing, Sa­j­jan said, but “this is a very com­plex mis­sion, our re-en­gage­ment on peace sup­port op­er­a­tions.”

The min­is­ter played down the im­pact of the gov­ern­ment’s in­de­ci­sion.

“Our al­lies want us to make sure that we make a re­spon­si­ble de­ci­sion,” he said. “That when we con­trib­ute as a na­tion, a whole-of-gov­ern­ment ap­proach that we’re ac­tu­ally go­ing to have an im­pact on the ground.”

CP PHoTo

De­fence Min­is­ter Har­jit Sa­j­jan heads to the morn­ing ses­sion as the Lib­eral cab­i­net meets in St. John’s, N.L. on Wed­nes­day.

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