VIDEO: Canada offers UN helicopters, planes, trainers; no decision on where

Justin Trudeau is unveiling the planned contributions at a high-level summit today in Vancouver

The Trudeau government is formally offering helicopters, transport aircraft and a 200-strong rapid-response team of soldiers for UN peacekeeping — though it will be months before Canadians know when and where they will go.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau unveiled the planned contributions at a high-level summit Wednesday in Vancouver, including millions of dollars to increase the role of women in peacekeeping.

“What we will do is step up and make the contributions we are uniquely able to provide,” Trudeau said.

“We know how to work with other countries and other partners to make peace happen. We have innovative ideas to share, and more importantly, we’re willing to put those new ideas into practice. We’re also home to the kinds of concrete capabilities that UN peace operations need.

“We can make a difference by matching what we do best with what UN peace operations need most.”

WATCH: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau addresses peacekeeping summit

The moment marks Canada’s most tangible step back into peacekeeping — long the country’s traditional military role — since the Liberals promised last year to provide the UN with up to 600 troops and 150 police officers.

But government officials who briefed reporters on background prior to the announcement say Canada and the UN have only just started what could be six to nine months of discussions about when and where those capabilities are needed.

That’s because Canada is offering the troops and equipment without dictating where they must go — an approach a senior UN official praised this week for giving the organization more flexibility in filling critical gaps in different missions.

“We’re currently in discussions with the United Nations to work out the details. We have to talk to host nations and identify locations where our capabilities can best fill UN critical capability gaps,” one Canadian official said.

“So the exact where and when is going to take a little bit of time to work out.”

Added another, speaking on background since the official announcement had yet to take place: “The traditional approach to peacekeeping has focused on where. The emphasis now is on how we’re engaged, not where we’re engaged.”

Trudeau acknowledged the government’s original promise and said it still plans to make good on that commitment.

“Canada has pledged to make available up to 600 Canadian Armed Forces personnel for possible deployment to a variety of UN peace operations, and we are fulfilling that commitment, over time, through a series of smart pledges,” he said.

“This is the best way for Canada to help, and it offers the greatest chance of success.”

Officials would not speak to what specific countries are currently under consideration. But sources have previously said the talks include possibly sending helicopters to Mali and a rapid response force to provide additional security to the UN mission in the Golan Heights, between Israel and Syria.

The government has also explored a contribution to the UN’s new police mission in Haiti, and basing a transport plane in Uganda to help ferry troops and equipment to different parts of Africa. Trudeau confirmed Wednesday that a C-130 transport plane and necessary support staff would be stationed in the Ugandan town of Entebbe to assist in deploying UN resources.

“We’re asking peace operations to do more — not only to deal with violence when it erupts, but to respond to the entire life cycle of conflict: preventing its outbreak, supporting complicated peace processes and helping people to rebuild their lives when conflict ends,” Trudeau said.

“That is the reality of modern peace operations. Given that reality, we need to try new things.”

Ironically, Trudeau’s announcement comes with number of Canadian blue helmets and blue berets in the field having dropped to just 62 last month, a new low from 68 in September. There were 112 Canadian peacekeepers deployed when the Liberals made their original promise in August 2016.

Canada is also offering a total of $21 million to help increase the number of women in peacekeeping, including $6 million to help with reforms at the UN and $15 million for a new trust fund.

The fund is intended to help partner together countries with good female representation in the ranks with those that want to have more women in uniform, but are facing challenges.

The officials emphasized that such partnerships would only involve countries that are genuinely interested and willing to having more women in their militaries.

The new emphasis on women in peacekeeping and military operations comes amid growing international recognition of the real operational benefits that come from female soldiers in the field.

Canada will also make dozens of trainers available to the UN and other countries to help professionalize militaries from developing countries that are often involved in peacekeeping.

Some of those trainers will be deployed to UN centres in Africa, such as Kenya, Ghana and Uganda. But officials say up to 50 could also be sent to other countries, and may even deploy on missions with their students.

That would only occur, however, when the safety of Canadian troops can be ensured, officials said.

The Canadian Press

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

NIC and other schools will provide information on program pathways, partnership agreements and tips for transfer students. File photo
Vancouver Island colleges, universities host virtual tours

The tour includes representatives from North Island College

Crew members with the Western Canadian Marine Response Corporation (WCMRC) deploy a containment boom from one of their workboats during a fuel spill drill in Alberni Harbour on Oct. 15, 2020. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)
Port Alberni WCMRC team learns the spill drill

Spill response members simulates fuel spill for practice in Alberni Harbour

Smokey Port painted by D.F. Gray during the eighth annual Paint Out. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
Port Alberni’s DRAW Gallery celebrates art online and in person

Fall in Love With Art! exhibit runs until Nov. 27

FILE – People wait in line at a COVID-19 testing facility in Burnaby, B.C., on Thursday, August 13, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
167 new COVID-19 cases, 1 death recorded as B.C. enters 2nd wave

Three new healthcare outbreaks also announced

This 2020 electron microscope image made available by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases shows a Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 particle isolated from a patient, in a laboratory in Fort Detrick, Md. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-NIAID/NIH via AP
At least 49 cases of COVID-19 linked to wedding in Calgary: Alberta Health

McMillan says the city of Calgary has recently seen several outbreaks linked to social gatherings

UBC geoscientists discovered the wreckage of a decades-old crash during an expedition on a mountain near Harrison Lake. (Submitted photo)
Wreckage of possibly decades-old airplane crash discovered on mountain near Harrison Lake

A team of UBC geoscientists discovered the twisted metal embedded in a glacier

The official search to locate Jordan Naterer was suspended Saturday Oct. 17. Photo courtesy of VPD.
‘I am not leaving without my son,’ says mother of missing Manning Park hiker

Family and friends continue to search for Jordan Naterer, after official efforts suspended

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A bear similar to this black bear is believed responsible for killing a llama in Saanich on Oct. 19. (Black Press Media file photo)
Bear kills llama on Vancouver Island, prompting concerns over livestock

Officers could not track the bear they feel may not fear humans

Bernard Trest and his son Max, 10, are concerned about B.C.’s plan for students in the classroom. He was one of two fathers who filed a court application in August to prevent schools from reopening if stricter COVID-19 protections weren’t in place. That application was dismissed last week. (Contributed photo)
B.C. dad pledges to appeal quashed call for mandatory masks, distancing in schools

Bernard Trest and Gary Shuster challenged health, education ministries’ return-to-school plan

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
RCMP cleared in fatal shooting of armed Lytton man in distress, police watchdog finds

IIO spoke to seven civillian witnesses and 11 police officers in coming to its decision

Most Read