The Trudeau government will send military peacekeepers to a United Nations (UN) mission to Mali, according to CBC News.
The report quotes a “senior government official” who says the official announcement will be made Monday. The deployment will reportedly involve helicopters from the Royal Canadian Air Force and soldiers from the Canadian Army.
The CBC source says that Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau relayed his decision to France and Germany by phone from his Florida vacation spot. Both countries have been encouraging a Canadian presence in the African hotspot.
The move flies in the face of a warning from a joint doctrine note from the Canadian military that described any potential peacekeeping missions in Africa as having a “strong potential for significant negative impact” due to the volatility of the civil strife in the country and the preponderance of child soldiers.
“Child soldiers … are likely to be encountered on an increasing basis,” the document states, noting that Canada should only send combat-ready troops into any deployment. “A force consisting of only lightly armed and equipped personnel may be much more vulnerable to attacks from child soldier units (such as human wave attacks); therefore consideration should be given to the provision of heavier weapons.”
Finally, the paper advises that such a mission could lead to pushback because “if is not well-handled, and communicated effectively, there is strong potential for significant negative impact on the mission, locally, in Canada, and at the international level.”
Conservative Defense Critic James Bezan told The Daily Caller on Saturday, “Justin Trudeau needs to explain how deploying Canadian troops to Mali is in Canada’s national interest. Or is it solely in the Liberals’ interest of trying to deflect from the reality that Trudeau has allowed Canada’s UN peacekeeping contributions to hit a historic low of only 22 deployed soldiers? Can Mali turn into another Rwanda and Somalia?” Bezan, a Manitoba Member of Parliament, asked.
Two other Canadian-led peacekeeping missions in Africa were disastrous. Charges of murder and subsequent coverup in Somalia led to a public inquiry into the Canadian Airborne Regiment and its subsequent disbandment. Canadian General Romeo Dallaire led a UN force in Rwanda, where a civil war led to the genocide of 800,000 people.
The UN continues to ask for Canadian assistance in Mali, despite the mission there being the most lethal peacekeeping operation extant. As of February, the conflict had claimed the lives of 162 peacekeepers since the UN first arrived in 2013.
Trudeau has promised to restore Canada’s reputation as the world’s best-known peacekeeping nation — the first UN peacekeeping force in the Suez Canal was the brainchild of the Canadian government of Prime Minister Louis St-Laurent.