Volume 93, Issue 10

Wednesday, September 15, 1999


CRTC is lost on the information superhighway

Canuck peacekeepers in over their heads

Canuck peacekeepers in over their heads

It's funny that on Monday I accidentally looked at one of Canada's bigger newspapers and discovered our intrepid Prime Minister, Jean Chretien, had committed 600 soldiers to a possible peacekeeping force in East Timor.

I'm not saying Canada should not commit forces to East Timor. The United Nations, quite frankly, should have been committing peacekeeping forces to East Timor way back in 1975 when this mess originated and long before thousands of people lost their lives in a rebellion.

But let's be honest, the UN is slow and Canada can be even slower. As the country commits this group of 600, I wonder where and how the government expects the military to find these resources.

After years of cutbacks (in case you're forgetting what happened after the Somalia and Rawanda affairs), the military is in dire straits. As it sells land and at the same time threatens to cut things like the snowbirds, in order to keep itself afloat, the government commits to missions throughout the world. Missions like Bosnia and Kosovo which require resources – resources which the military is scrambling to find.

Kosovo marks the first time since the First World War that Canada does not have command over its own soldiers in the field. The military is sending soldiers overseas more and more. The next rotation leaving for Kosovo in November is predominantly made up of soldiers who just came back from Bosnia last Christmas. This wear and tear will add up, as the rotations repeat over and over again. Anyone else see another Somalia boiling on the stove?

At this point in time Canada is in no situation to be making any more major commitments to UN peacekeeping missions. That's just the simple truth of the matter. In the future, unless increases are made in the budget, Canada can look forward to more Somalia inquiries and more situations of soldiers losing control. This will not only add further damage to Canada's military tradition but also to a proud peacekeeping tradition which has taken 50 years to build.

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Copyright The Gazette 1999