Canada cut backs on peacekeeping

he Canadian military formerly was one of the primary contributors towards peacekeeping. Today, we rank 54th

Why is Canada cutting back on its peacekeeping role? The Canadian military formerly was one of the primary contributors towards peacekeeping. Today, we rank 54th in the world in terms of contributions of uniformed peacekeepers.

Out of 90,000 uniformed peacekeepers in the world, Canadian Forces contribute just 68 personnel while Canada’s police forces provide 92.

We shouldn’t forget that it was Canada’s Lester Pearson who more or less invented modern peacekeeping. He was our ambassador to the United Nations during the Suez Crisis in1956, when Britain and France attempted to take over the Suez Canal with Israel’s help. Pearson suggested the U.N. position a force between the antagonists to ensure both sides honored the ceasefire.

Canadian troops formed part of that first Suez peacekeeping force, and contributed to it for decades afterwards.

Other U.N. missions followed. When Turkey and Greece, both members of NATO, almost went to war over Cyprus, Canadians in blue helmets helped separate the belligerents. For many years, Canada held the number one spot in terms of troops contributed to U.N. peacekeeping, and nearly all U.N. peacekeeping efforts contained at least some Canadians.

With the end of the Cold War, contributions from Canada and other Western countries to U.N. peacekeeping have declined significantly. At the same time, the number of U.N. peacekeeping personnel has multiplied by more than five.

Today the biggest troop contributors by far are Bangladesh, India and Pakistan.

Today, as Canada winds down its military presence in Afghanistan, we need to re-evaluate the role of the Canadian Armed Forces and, indeed, Canada’s role in the World.

We are a relatively small, middle-level power that is greatly dependent on trade.

Our security and prosperity has always depended on being part of a multilateral system.

United Nations peacekeeping has it share of problems as, indeed, does the United Nations itself.


That doesn’t mean that we should not get involved, however. The truth is that we have no other choice but to make them work.