WARSAW, Poland – The federal government says Canada still plans to join a United Nations peacekeeping mission even though it is sending hundreds of soldiers as well as armoured vehicles to Eastern Europe.
The Liberals had repeatedly signalled they wanted Canada to return to UN peacekeeping before Prime Minister Justin Trudeau committed Canada on Friday to take command of a NATO force in Latvia in response to fears of Russian intentions in the region.
Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan and Foreign Affairs Minister Stephane Dion told The Canadian Press on Saturday the government continues looking for a peacekeeping mission to which Canada can contribute.
The ministers said it was unfortunate that Canada had to send troops to Latvia, but Canada had an obligation to help NATO in its standoff with Russia. But they also said it is important to reduce and prevent conflict in other parts of the world.
Sajjan says the Canadian military has the resources to lead the NATO force in Latvia and also participate in peacekeeping.
Dion, meanwhile, said Trudeau has taken the opportunity at the NATO summit to press upon European Union leaders the importance of ratifying a free trade deal between the EU and Canada. That agreement, the largest for Canada since NAFTA, has been up in the air since Britons voted to leave the EU.