August 9 marks Canada’s National Peacekeepers’ Day. “Canada should be showing its leadership by promoting peace efforts around the world,” remarked Green Party leader Elizabeth May, MP, Saanich-Gulf Islands. “Polling data indicates that Canadians give peace-making top priority, yet the Harper Conservatives continue to promote Canada as a military nation.”
Canada has long since lost its number-one spot among contributors of personnel to UN peacekeeping missions. We now rank a deplorable 54th, even though the need for peacekeepers has grown, and more and more Canadians are choosing to enroll in peace building educational programmes. It has, unfortunately, become Canada’s habit, even as we expand a commitment in one area, to end our involvement in other areas despite continuing need. For example, an additional 34 peacekeepers were recently sent to Haiti, bringing the total of Canadians participating to just 126 of the almost 9000 in the UN’s mission there, but our personnel contribution to the UN Assistance Mission in Darfur has ended.
Contributions from countries with peacekeeping expertise and advanced military and logistics capabilities like Canada make a significant impact. “Rather than continuing its obsession over F-35 fighter jets, the Harper Conservatives should be using Canadian funds as Canadians wish, to reinvigorate our commitment to UN peacekeeping personnel in their traditional roles of communications and logistics support,” stated Ellen Michelson, the Green Party of Canada’s Peace and Security advocate.
Elizabeth May was invited to ride with UN peacekeeping veterans in Sidney’s Canada Day parade. “Peacekeeping is such a valuable Canadian legacy and I am personally grateful to all of our peacekeeping veterans,” said May.
This Sunday, Green Human Right’s Critic Joe Foster will attend the Ottawa ceremony to honour Peacekeepers, organized at the Peacekeeping Monument by the local chapter of the Canadian Association of Veterans in UN Peacekeeping (CAVUNP), the Canadian Armed Forces, Veterans’ Affairs Canada, and the RCMP.