Stephane Dion: Peacekeeping More 'Complex' Than Years Past

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MONTREAL — There are virtually no direct wars between states anymore and that will make Canada's upcoming peacekeeping missions all the more complicated, Foreign Affairs Minister Stephane Dion said Monday.

Instead of the traditional role of acting as a buffer between two formerly warring nation states, peacekeepers will now need to be deployed within countries fighting terrorist insurgencies, he said.

stephane dion
Foreign Affairs Minister Stephane Dion speaks at a news conference in Saguenay Quebec on Aug. 26, 2016. (Photo: CP)

Canada recently announced up to 600 soldiers, 150 police officers and $450 million in order to renew the country's former role in global peacekeeping operations.

While Dion wouldn't divulge where peacekeepers would be deployed, he said that countries "in more than one continent" have asked Canada for help.

When Canada first introduced peacekeepers into the Suez Canal conflict in the late 1950's, they were "welcomed" into the war zone, Dion said.

"You had two countries exhausted by their fight, but not having confidence in each other," Dion said. "You don't have that anymore. As I speak there is not one war of opposing states. Today, it is more complex and that's why the expertise of Canada is so welcome."

'Asymmetrical conflicts'

He said aside from soldiers, Canada will be looking to activate pilots, military engineers, doctors, communications specialists, mine clearers, legal experts, development advisors and police officers for future United Nations missions.

"These asymmetrical conflicts also call for military intervention undertaken in close co-operation with local authorities such as NATO, the European Union, the African Union and others," he told a lunch crowd of 300 at an event hosted by the Montreal Council on Foreign Relations.

"That is why Canada wants to re-engage with these institutions, the UN first and foremost among them."

The Conservatives have criticized the government's new interest in peacekeeping, claiming Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is trying to win favour with the UN in order to gain a Security Council seat.

Conservatives say the country's interests are best served when the military is in specific combat roles, such as the former bombing mission in Iraq and Syria against Islamic State.

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