03 January 2016

Time to reverse Canada's peacekeeping decline

At one time, back in the early 90's, Canada contributed more troops to UN peacekeeping missions than anyone else. We were number one. Today, with only 26 military personnel involved, we rank 66th.

Peacekeeping itself has continued to grow. The UN is now deploying more peacekeepers to world hot spots than at any time in its history with 130,000 military, police and civilian personnel serving in 16 missions. The UN now puts more troops in the field than any other actor including the American military, and the missions are more complex than ever. Our financial contribution has paralleled this growth, but when it comes to boots on the ground, we have become something of a slacker.

Now that we have fired the militaristically-inclined Stephen Harper, who saw our forces as a sort of foreign legion for the American empire and despised the UN, and replaced him with a PM who has a more comprehensive view of the world's challenges, perhaps we can return to the role we once filled so well. As a country with advanced military and logistics capabilities, we can make a major contribution to the effectiveness of operations.

At U.S. President Obama's Peacekeeping Summit last October a number of nations, including European governments and China, pledged to commit 40,000 new troops and police, 40 utility and attack helicopters, 15 military engineering companies and 10 field hospitals. We can and should be part of this renewed interest.  Canadians, after all, have consistently said they prefer our military peacekeeping rather than war-fighting.

Quite aside from the altruistic goal of helping to create a more peaceful world, as a trading nation we have much to gain from international stability. With no external threat to our borders, this is an effective way to get value for money out of our military. By helping the world, we can help ourselves.


  1. If there's one thing the world has in abundance today it is people engaged in shooting and bombing other people. Canada's contribution is as regrettable as it is irrelevant to any outcome.

    When we abandoned peacekeeping for "shoot'em up" geopolitics we lost a great deal. Peacekeeping was intertwined with our "honest broker" role. We served not only as a conduit between warring parties but also a channel of communications between small nations and superpowers. Everyone knew we were part of the West yet they also knew Canada could be trusted as an intermediary when little nations needed to reach out to powers that might not dare be seen in contact with them. We did more than relay messages. When we considered it appropriate we might even advocate for them.

  2. Yes indeed Mound. We seem to have found our place in the world and then lost it again.