Jack Granatstein, a member of MLI’s Research Advisory Board, writes a monthly column for the Canadian Defence & Foreign Affairs Institute. This month, he writes about how Canada’s armed forces should be used and acknowledges that former liberal leader Michael Ignatieff was “half right” in his assessment that Canada should do United Nations peacekeeping when it can. An excerpt below:
Nonetheless, Ignatieff was half right: Canada should do United Nations peacekeeping when it can. The tests for participation are clear, something Ignatieff surely knew, even if he did not feel he could say so during a campaign. There must be a clear UN mandate, something that has not always been the case in the past half-century. There must be the agreement of the warring parties on a UN force and a desire for a peace settlement. There must be a definite exit date -no more endless missions, as in Cyprus. And the Canadian Forces must be able to do the job with the available personnel and the right equipment. In addition, Canada should pick and choose its missions carefully. There is no value in putting our soldiers into the jungles of Congo, for example, not least because white troops are unwelcome to the factions at war there.
Above all, each and every deployment of Canadian troops, whether for the UN or for a coalition operation, must serve Canada’s national interests. That is the sine qua non, and to ensure this requirement is met, Parliament should be asked to vote to support every substantial deployment overseas. Without a parliamentary mandate, there cannot be long-lasting public support, and it is always important for the people’s elected representatives to accept the burden of responsibility for putting the lives of Canadian Forces soldiers at risk.
This piece was published in the Ottawa Citizen on May 10, 2011 under the title, “How Canada’s Armed Forces Should be Used”. It was also published in the Winnipeg Free Press on May 12, 2011 under the title, “Ignatieff got peacekeeping half right”.