THE VIEW FROM HERE – Trudeau’s visit to UN first step in reclaiming Canada’s peacekeeping stature

Tom Henihan,
Smoky River Express


Canada is once again preparing to win back a seat on the United Nations Security Council and to re-establish its once considerable reputation in international peacekeeping, a stellar reputation squandered during the decade of Harper’s leadership.
I have little patience with Trudeau’s constant mantra of “Canada is back,” implying that the Liberal Party and the prime minister are the true standard-bearers of genuine Canadian values.
Canadians hold the same values no matter which party is in office and while the former prime minister appeared to veer off on a dark, personal tangent, Canada and its citizens did not go anywhere and therefore are not back from anywhere either.
Trudeau loves to wax lyrical about Canada’s cultural and ethnic diversity, while ignoring its diversity of opinion and moral position. He constantly asserts that he is representing Canadian values when there is no broad consensus as to what constitutes those values.
As prime minister, Justin Trudeau should speak on behalf of all Canadians and acknowledge that diversity of opinion instead of appearing only to represent a righteous coterie of likeminded Canadians.
Not to underestimate its contrubtion, but Canada is not an important military power; its contribution is usually peripheral to the larger operations of other countries, primarily the US.
However, Canada’s reputation and moral authority in the context of peacekeeping was significant. Canada had a high profile, having garnered the experience and expertise, while making significant contributions to peacekeeping around the world for over 60 years.
In recent years, Canada has played a key role in peacekeeping in Kosovo, Sierra Leone, East Timor, Eritrea, Haiti and Sudan.
As prime minister, Stephen Harper in his fervor to have the Canadian military involved in combat missions, diminished the value of peacekeeping.
In his eagerness for war, Harper subliminally suggested that peacekeeping personnel were not of the same stature as soldiers in combat and consequently not due the same respect.
Of course, on the ground the reality of peacekeeping missions is volatile, unpredictable and dangerous and demands the same vigilance, courage and discipline as any soldier sent to fulfill any kind of mission regardless of whether it is in combat or maintaining a fragile peace.
At the UN, Canada’s reputation has suffered over the past ten years and the Liberal Government cannot correct that damage overnight.
As it has taken Canada years to establish its international standing as an adept and tactful presence in unpredictable and dangerous peacekeeping situations, it will also take time to rehabilitate that reputation.
Although Canada has to wait until the 2021 for an opportunity to regain its seat at the UN, it is never too soon to begin to repair the damage done over the last decade, as the prime minister attempted to do at the UN headquarters in New York on March 16.
In spite of Justin Trudeau’s constant and tiresome inference that only he and his party own the moral high-ground, it was nevertheless good to hear him say “We are determined to help the UN make even greater strides in support of its goals for all humanity,” and to later reiterate, “We are determined to revitalize Canada’s role in peacekeeping.”

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