On 11 February 2010, the Ottawa Outfront Speaker Series hosted Dr. Walter Dorn in conversation with Gloria Galloway of the Globe and Mail on the topic of Canada’s future as a UN peacekeeper. Dr. Dorn, a professor at the Canadian Forces College, strongly advocated a return to Canada’s proud tradition as a strong supporter of and contributor to UN peacekeeping.
During his presentation and the question period that followed, Dr. Dorn addressed a number of key themes surrounding this issue. For Canada to become a peacekeeper once again, he argued, it must dispel two contradictory myths. Firstly, that Canada is still a peacekeeping nation and, secondly, that it never was a peacekeeping nation. With respect to the former, Canada has lost its title as a peacekeeping nation as it now contributes only 55 military peacekeepers, 0.06 percent of the total number, to UN missions around the world. With respect to the latter, Dr. Dorn invoked the history of Canada’s involvement in peacekeeping. Although Canada has been involved in a number of combat missions, it was one of the chief architects of, and was long one of the key contributors to, UN peacekeeping missions.
The Obama administration has played a major role in rejuvenating the future of peacekeeping. Obama’s attitude towards the UN differs markedly from that of his predecessor, George W. Bush, whose administration was highly critical of and antagonistic towards the UN. Obama’s move to make the UN ambassadorship a cabinet position and resumption of dues payments indicate a more positive attitude towards the UN.
Canada’s withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2011 will allow it to focus on a new international role as a peacekeeper. Already, the Canadian Forces are playing a major role in aiding Haiti’s recovery from the disastrous January 2010 earthquake. Will the Canadian Forces once again don the blue beret in Haiti and other places? Dorn sees a bright future for Canada and its contribution to world peace. The question is whether Canadians and the Canadian government are willing to take the first step.
The full presentation and the question period that followed it can be watched on CPAC.
Photo by Rideau Institute