Canada's dwindling peacekeepers

The Toronto Star reports on Canada’s dwindling contribution to U.N. peacekeeping (Brett Popplewell, “Last of a dying breed: The Canadian peacekeeper,” Toronto Star, 11 December 2010):

The Canadian mission in Sudan began in 2005, at the close of a 22-year civil war that saw a rebel movement in the south of the country fight with the established government in the north over “resources, power, the role of religion in the state and self-determination,” according to the UN.

Two million people died during that conflict. A further four million were displaced within the country. Some 600,000 fled as refugees.

Keeping the peace following such a deadly conflict isn’t something the Canadian Forces, once renowned as the world’s leading peacekeeping force, have really done of late.

“It’s true, I am one of only a few Canadian Forces members directly involved in UN peacekeeping,” says [LCol Dalton] Cote.

“Peacekeeping can be a frustrating task,” he says. “The UN is at times bureaucratic and not all peacekeepers (from other countries) are of the same quality. But Canadian peacekeepers are still well respected in the field. And I think the value of it is seen as very strong within the military.”

Cote’s view contradicts what many Canadians — who continue to indicate in opinion polls that they want the military to return to peacekeeping — have been told by pundits such as Jack Granatstein, military historian and former serviceman. Granatstein argues the military “hates peacekeeping because it hurts training, it’s not a fit job for a soldier in the eyes of many soldiers, and because it’s so unrealistic in the public’s expectations.”

DND photo

Tags: Defence policy, LCol Dalton Cote, Sudan, UN peacekeeping, United Nations