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The Defence Policy Review: Strengthen Canada’s commitment to UN Peace Operations

The Liberal government announced on April 6 that it is launching public consultations to inform the drafting of its new defence policy.

There has not been a comprehensive defence review in Canada since the 1994 Defence White Paper, over 20 years ago. Whether the current arrangements measure up to the Liberal campaign promise to conduct an “open and transparent process to review existing defence capabilities” remains to be seen. [And if the procedures for screening arms exports to Saudi Arabia are the measure of open government, then Canadians have grounds for skepticism.]

But if we want a shift in Canadian Defence policy, it’s important to say so.

At the time of the last Defence Policy Review Canada was still a world leader in its contributions to United Nations Peace Operations. However, although Canada made substantial personnel contributions to UN peacekeeping for four decades until the mid-1990’s, our contributions since then have declined. As a fact sheet published by the World Federalist Movement – Canada makes clear, our declining personnel contributions come at a time when the UN needs peacekeepers more than ever. There are now close to 130,000 military, police and civilian personnel deployed to 16 missions around the world.

Some peace operations face shortages of needed equipment and are staffed at levels below the numbers mandated by the UN Security Council.

After years of decline, support for peacekeeping within Canada’s Department of National Defence is not high. Officials need to hear from Canadians.

What you can do

There are two ways to support a revitalized Canadian contribution to UN peace operations:

1) Access the government’s online Defence Policy Review website. Use either the “e-workbook” or “virtual forum” to indicate your views.

2) Write to the Defence Minister. Here is a sample letter.

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