In The Media

Canada’s decision on peacekeeping mission is now delayed for months

by Bruce Campion-Smith (feat. David Perry)

Toronto Star
May 12, 2017

OTTAWA—Canada’s high-profile military mission to Africa appears off the radar for now with a decision on a deployment delayed, perhaps until fall, the Star has learned.

Political upheaval among key allies — notably the United States, France and Great Britain — is cited as the reason why Justin Trudeau’s government has pushed back its high-profile pledge to return Canada to international peacekeeping efforts.

The federal government does not want to deploy soldiers on a potentially dangerous mission only to find other nations have decided their priorities lie elsewhere, leaving Canada “stuck with a legacy mission,” one source told the Star.

One official at defence headquarters offered a blunt assessment of where the peace mission currently stood on the list of priorities. “It’s not on the radar,” said the source.

When asked about the delay, officials point to the political shake-ups around the globe, notably in Washington, where the unexpected election of Donald Trump as president and his unpredictable tenure in office so far has forced Ottawa to rethink priorities on issues from defence to trade.

But political change bubbles in other capitals too. Britons go to the polls in a general election in June. France just saw the election of a new president, Emmanuel Macron, who beat out right-wing candidate Marine Le Pen. That country has a significant military mission ongoing in Mali, one nation cited as the likely destination for the Canadian deployment.

At home, other issues are competing for attention. Next week, the Liberal government will unveil its defence policy review that will lay out a new vision for the armed forces and the promise of additional funding to pay for it.

That vision, expected to provide policy guidance for the coming two decades, will almost certainly include a nod to the record of Canadian peacekeeping around the globe. But it’s not expected to include any new details of forthcoming missions.

The government’s attention has also been distracted on the political front as the man tasked to sell that new vision — Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan — is fighting for his credibility after being forced to apologize for inflating his role as an officer during an Afghanistan offensive.

And within defence headquarters, the fallout from the surprise January ouster of Vice-Admiral Mark Norman, the second-in-command of the military is still being felt.

All that means that a decision on a peace support mission is now not expected for months yet. That timing means it could be more than a year since the Liberal government laid out its promise of personnel and funding for a mission — 600 troops, 150 police officers and $450 million over three years for a new Peace and Stability Operations Program.

An announcement on exactly where Canada would deploy those personnel on a peace mission had been expected by last Christmas. But there was no word and nothing yet in the months since.

Trudeau said in March that his government would not be pushed into making a decision, saying that any deployment had to be done “responsibly and thoughtfully.”

But months later, the government seems no closer to a decision.

“I don’t have a timeframe on that,” Sajjan told the Star in a recent interview.

“All I can tell you is we will make that decision as a government when we feel comfortable that we have all the necessary information, that we have a whole of government approach and definitely from the military side, one that is going to have an impact on the ground,” Sajjan said.

He conceded that the changes around the globe were, in part, the reason for prolonged discussions about Canada’s role in a UN mission.

“We do need to look at... the changing environment. We have to make sure that when we add in and say we’re going to do ‘X,’ we have to make sure that ‘X’ is actually going to provide added value to the UN,” Sajjan said.

In the January cabinet shake-up that made Chrystia Freeland foreign affairs minister, one of the tasks handed the Toronto MP was to “increase Canada’s support for United Nations peace operations.”

Alex Lawrence, her spokesperson, told the Star that the peace deployment remains under active consideration. “Our government is committed to international peace operations, and we are currently considering what precise role Canada can play,” Lawrence said.

But Canada’s hand could be forced when Sajjan hosts an international summit on peacekeeping at the end of the year.

Sajjan used last year’s summit in London to herald the willingness of the Liberal government to re-engage in peace missions, declaring that, “Canada is committed to leading international efforts in peace support operations.

“Conflicts today are more complex than ever before and we’re serious about being part of the solution — that’s the reason we’re bringing our resources and skills to the table,” Sajjan said in a statement issued for the 2016 summit.

It could be awkward for the Liberal government to go into this year’s summit with nothing to show for the statements it made more than a year earlier.

Defence analyst Dave Perry says the delay in deciding a mission has already likely forced military officers and diplomats back to the drawing boards to update the proposals they first presented to the government.

“I would imagine given how long it has taken since some of those initial inputs were provided that revisiting some plans because events and things on the ground have changed significantly would be part of the delay now,” said Perry, a senior analyst with the Canadian Global Affairs Institute.

“Some of the plans would have been submitted a half year ago. Hard to think they would still be viable today,” he said in an interview.

Be the first to comment

Please check your e-mail for a link to activate your account.

No events are scheduled at this time.


Global Times: BRICS summit displays the potential of a new future

by Editorial Staff (feat. Swaran Singh), WSFA 12, June 24, 2022

Oil's Dive Won't Bring Any Immediate Relief on Inflation

by Alex Longley, Elizabeth low, and Barbara Powell (feat. Amrita Sen), BNNBloomberg, June 24, 2022

China To Tout Its Governance Model At BRICS Summit

by Liam Gibson (feat. Stephen Nagy), The Asean Post, June 23, 2022

Soutien aux victimes d’inconduites sexuelles dans l’armée

by Rude Dejardins (feat. Charlotte Duval-Lantoine), ICI Radio Canada, June 23, 2022

Defence: $4.9 billion for radars against Russian bombs

by Editorial Staff (feat. Rob Huebert), Archynews, June 23, 2022

The Hans Island “Peace” Agreement between Canada, Denmark, and Greenland

by Elin Hofverberg (feat. Natalie Loukavecha), Library of Congress, June 22, 2022

What the future holds for western Canadian oil producers

by Gabriel Friedman (feat. Kevin Birn), Beaumont News, June 22, 2022

At BRICS summit, China sets stage to tout its governance model

by Liam Gibson (feat. Stephen Nagy), Aljazeera, June 22, 2022

Crude oil price: there are no changes to the fundamentals

by Faith Maina (feat. Amrita Sen), Invezz, June 22, 2022

Few details as Liberals promise billions to upgrade North American defences

by Lee Berthiaume (feat. Andrea Charron), National Newswatch, June 20, 2022

Defence Minister Anita Anand to make announcement on continental defence

by Steven Chase (feat. Rob Huebert), The Globe and Mail, June 19, 2022

Table pancanadienne des politiques

by Alain Gravel (feat. Jean-Christophe Boucher), ICI Radio Canada, June 18, 2022

Russia Ukraine conflict

by Gloria Macarenko (feat. Colin Robertson), CBC Radio One, June 17, 2022

New privacy Bill to introduce rules for personal data, AI use

by Shaye Ganam (feat. Tom Keenan), 680 CHED, June 17, 2022


Canadian Global Affairs Institute
Suite 1800, 150–9th Avenue SW
Calgary, Alberta, Canada T2P 3H9


Canadian Global Affairs Institute
8 York Street, 2nd Floor
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada K1N 5S6


Phone: (613) 288-2529
Email: [email protected]


Making sense of our complex world.
Déchiffrer la complexité de notre monde.


© 2002-2022 Canadian Global Affairs Institute
Charitable Registration No. 87982 7913 RR0001


Sign in with Facebook | Sign in with Twitter | Sign in with Email