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Canada: good peacekeeping or good public relations?

The Story

The war in Vietnam is in full swing, and a United Nations force is headed to Egypt again, bringing peacekeeping back into the Canadian consciousness. Ever since Lester B. Pearson won a Nobel Peace Prize for his proposal to end the Suez Crisis with an international peacekeeping force, Canada has enjoyed a reputation as neutral, fair peacekeepers in conflicts around the world. But is it really that simple? At the root of questions about Canada's image as peacekeepers is the concern that it's just that: an image. Critics wonder whether Canada is in fact a "cat's paw" -- a surrogate for U.S. foreign policy. Others are concerned that Canadian peacekeeping missions are unjustifiably idealistic. CBC reporter Rob Parker finds out about the kind of peace Canada's been keeping.

Medium: Television
Program: Up Canada
Broadcast Date: Nov. 20, 1973
Guests: E.L.M. Burns, Lawrence Fabian, George Ignatieff, Mitchell Sharp
Reporter: Rob Parker
Duration: 13:28

Did You know?

• Canada has taken part in virtually every one of the 54 United Nations peacekeeping operations which have been undertaken to 2003. So has the Pacific island nation of Fiji.
• In October 2000, 38,000 military and civilian police personnel from 89 countries were engaged in UN peacekeeping operations around the world.
• Not every Canadian diplomatic effort was a success. In 1996, unrest broke out in Zaire, where Rwandan refugees were waiting to go home after genocide in Rwanda. Canada won praise for offering to lead a multinational force in Zaire to quell the violence and offer the refugees aid and safe passage. But the effort never got off the ground; other countries didn't commit to the force and aid wasn't urgently needed after all.
• In 1981, a Canadian diplomat named Ken Taylor, an ambassador to Iran, won admiration for pulling off what's been dubbed "The Canadian Caper." Six American diplomats were trapped by a revolution in Iran in which 52 of their compatriots were taken hostage. They took sanctuary at the Canadian embassy and Taylor arranged for false passports and their safe passage out of Iran. This act, while heroic, doesn't exemplify good diplomacy, in which negotiation comes first.


Peacekeepers and Peacemakers: Canada's Diplomatic Contribution more