Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Sajjan to Mark Peacekeepers Day at United Nations despite Mission Indecision

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Sajjan to Mark Peacekeepers Day at United Nations despite Mission Indecision

Article excerpt

Peacekeeping delays raise UN eyebrows


OTTAWA - Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan is expected to face pointed questions when he travels to the United Nations next week to help commemorate those peacekeepers who have been killed in the line of duty.

The minister is scheduled to travel to New York next Wednesday, where he will participate in the UN's annual ceremony for honouring the more than 3,500 blue helmets who have been killed since 1948.

The International Day for UN Peacekeepers is May 29, but that falls on Memorial Day in the U.S. this year, so the world body is remembering its fallen peacekeepers the week before.

Sajjan will also preside over a luncheon to launch Canada's hosting of a major peacekeeping summit in Vancouver this coming November, and meet with the new head of UN peacekeeping, Jean-Pierre Lacroix.

But one thing Sajjan is not expected to do is provide an answer on where the Liberal government plans to send hundreds of promised Canadian peacekeepers.

The UN has been waiting months for Canada to announce such a decision, after the Liberals promised last August to provide up to 600 troops to a future, unspecified peacekeeping mission.

Lacroix's predecessor, Herve Ladsous, expressed disappointment with Canada during his final press conference in March, saying he was initially excited by the promise but "so far, it hasn't materialized."

Diplomatic sources, some of whom have expressed their own impatience and even frustration over what they see as the government's dithering, expect the matter to be front and centre during Sajjan's visit.

Sajjan's office said Wednesday that the federal cabinet still hasn't decided on a mission. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said last week that the Liberals would not be rushed into a decision.

The government has indicated it plans to start laying the groundwork for an eventual peacekeeping mission with a speech from Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland early next month. …

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