Professor Thomas Juneau of the University of Ottawa’s Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, who was, formerly, an analyst with Canada’s Department of National Defence, takes a look, in an opinion piece in the Globe and Mail, at the recent announcement by ministers Bibeau, Dion, Goodale and Sajjan re: Canada being “back” in UN peacekeeping and he finds it deeply flawed.
It is, Prof Juneau concludes, just putting old wine (“Global Affairs Canada’s existing – and quite successful – Stabilization and Reconstruction Task Force (START)“) in a new bottle (“the new Peace and Stabilization Operations Program“) “while only slightly modifying its mandate …[and, since] … it does not even significantly increase its baseline funding … Canada, in other words, will unfortunately not be able to do much more in post-conflict reconstruction and stabilization.”
It is, in other words, just smoke and mirrors, designed, as I suggested, earlier, to be “nothing more than cheap, throw away campaign rhetoric, crafted by a highly skilled public relations team.“
“Even the early warning system to detect conflicts, a favourite of Mr. Sajjan,” Professor Juneau goes on to explain, “is mostly smoke: various units in the intelligence community and in Global Affairs Canada already do this. It is also not clear how much impact this unit could have: most conflicts in recent decades have been a surprise to most observers, while a better informed Canada, as a mid-sized country, can still only follow the lead of its more powerful allies.“
“What is also disappointing,” to Thomas Juneau (and to me), “is that the government did not clearly explain how all of this is in Canada’s interest. It seems to assume that “doing” UN peace operations is intrinsically good, which is at best simplistic. Peace operations are a means, not an end. Canada should definitely be more involved, but on a case-by-case basis and provided that individual commitments are in its interests. Friday’s announcement said little, in particular, on how the forthcoming decision regarding a mission in Africa will be made.” I agree 100% with Professor Juneau on this … it is partisan, 2019 election Liberal campaign politics, not Canadian strategic policy that is driving this.
Professor Juneau says that “the government’s intentions are good,” I disagree. It may well be that Justin Trudeau’s intentions were good, back in 2015, when he promised to “bring Canada back” into UN peacekeeping; it may be that he actually believes the UN/Pearsonian peacekeeping myth ~ and it is only a myth ~ but this government project, crafted by political campaign professionals with the sole aim of except putting a ✔ against another item in the “promises made/promises kept” list on a page in the 2019 red book, is not well intentioned at all. It is, instead, sad and cynical and it aims to fool Canadians.