The Canadian Government is currently debating where to send troops on new peacekeeping missions while ramping up their current contributions in Iraq and Eastern Europe, said Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan on Wednesday.
“We are gathering information…I’ve had briefings on this. We will be moving ahead on this [peacekeeping mission]. It’s very important to send a message to our partners that Canada will play a responsible role in the world,” said Sajjan in a teleconference call with journalists.
According to the Defence Minister, the government is currently assessing where Canada can best contribute its assets.
“We want to make sure our contribution is the right size, the right people and the right authority to be able to carry out that work,” stated Sajjan.
Africa is said to be on the government’s radar for a peacekeeping mission while Mexico has requested Canada’s help in creating a peacekeeping force in Columbia.
This debate comes not long after Canada announced that it will be sending a sizeable contingent of Canadian Armed Forces soldiers to Latvia as part of NATO’s efforts to bolster assurance measures in Eastern Europe in an effort to deter Russia.
In addition, the fight against the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) continues. After the NATO Summit last week, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced to his counterparts that Canada will provide air surveillance capabilities to the global contributions against ISIL and will contribute to NATO’s counter-improvised explosive device capacity.
“We are looking a year out to where the plan and progression needed to go,” stated Sajjan.
The Defence Minister made a surprise visit to Iraq over the weekend to discuss the fight against ISIL with Iraqi and Kurdish officials. His visit coincided with U.S. Defence Secretary Ashton Carter’s visit to the region.
“The fight that we’ve taken to ISIL is actually progressing extremely well. The intelligence capabilities that we have put in have been up and running and very quickly provided the necessary information,” stated Sajjan.
Information, Sajjan said, that has been crucial to the Global Coalition against the Islamic State.
Also at the NATO Summit in Warsaw, Trudeau announced that the Government of Canada will contribute a comprehensive package, worth $465 million, to sustain the Afghan National Defence and Security Forces and for the development of the country, including the empowerment and education of women.
Image: Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan, pictured at the National Press Theatre. The Liberal government has not given an update on when Canada will withdraw its CF-18 fighter jets from a U.S.-led mission against ISIS. The Hill Times photograph by Jake Wright