Evidence of meeting #91 for National Defence in the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was missions.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Mark Gwozdecky  Assistant Deputy Minister, International Security and Political Affairs, Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development
Stephen Bowes  Commander, Canadian Joint Operations Command, Department of National Defence
A. D. Meinzinger  Director of Staff, Strategic Joint Staff, Department of National Defence
Jeff Senior  Deputy Director, Peace Operations, Stabilization and Conflict Policy Division , Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development
Derek Joyce  Director General, International Security Policy, Department of National Defence

9:45 a.m.

Conservative

Cheryl Gallant Conservative Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Okay.

What is the exact date of the deployment of Canadian troops to Mali?

9:45 a.m.

LGen Stephen Bowes

I answered that question earlier.

9:45 a.m.

Conservative

Cheryl Gallant Conservative Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Okay.

Exactly how long will Canadian forces be active in Mali?

9:45 a.m.

LGen Stephen Bowes

Approximately one year—with the aviation task force.

9:45 a.m.

Conservative

Cheryl Gallant Conservative Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

You mentioned that they will be armed. Will they be armed with side arms?

9:45 a.m.

LGen Stephen Bowes

They carry small arms. I'm not going to specify side arms. It depends on the nature of the task and whether a pilot carries a particular weapon or whether the tactical air security officers carry....

9:45 a.m.

Conservative

Cheryl Gallant Conservative Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Fair enough.

Is Mali a war zone?

9:45 a.m.

LGen Stephen Bowes

It's not a term. It's a complex conflict zone.

9:45 a.m.

Conservative

Cheryl Gallant Conservative Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Will Canadian troops assist counterterrorism operations in any way?

9:45 a.m.

LGen Stephen Bowes

Through air medical evacuation, sustainment in transportation of personnel in support of the MINUSMA mandate and the G5 Sahel.

9:45 a.m.

Conservative

Cheryl Gallant Conservative Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Okay.

Now, in terms of the activity there, under what circumstances will our troops be allowed to use force in Mali?

9:45 a.m.

LGen Stephen Bowes

I'm not prepared to discuss rules of engagement.

9:45 a.m.

Conservative

Cheryl Gallant Conservative Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Okay, so no rules of engagement.

9:45 a.m.

LGen Stephen Bowes

Well, they have rules of engagement, but I'm not telling you....

9:45 a.m.

Conservative

Cheryl Gallant Conservative Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Will they ever be forced to take orders from a UN official without the prior consultation...?

9:45 a.m.

LGen Stephen Bowes

No matter where we are on the planet, the chief of defence retains full command of our forces, and within the context of a laid-out matrix of responsibilities, that aviation task force commander is responsible to me. He can accept tasks from the force commander based on the parameters that we have put in place.

9:45 a.m.

Conservative

Cheryl Gallant Conservative Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Okay.

Will they ever...?

9:45 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Stephen Fuhr

That's your time.

MP Gerretsen.

April 19th, 2018 / 9:45 a.m.

Liberal

Mark Gerretsen Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

General Bowes, our mission here is to make recommendations to the government on what Canada's role should be as it pertains to peacekeeping, not in one area in particular. I want to start by trying to get a sense of where we've been and how we've gotten to where we are. The briefing that we were provided by the Library of Parliament noted there has been a gradual decline in Canada's contributions to peacekeeping since the 1970s; I think we would all agree on this. Looking at the data, it suggests that a decay in the support has taken place under both Conservative and Liberal governments, so this isn't a politically motivated question by any means, but it does hint at a shift in national priorities between the 1970s and today. I'm wondering if you would say that this is a shift in Canadian foreign policy and security priorities since the 1970s. Would you agree with that, for starters?

9:45 a.m.

LGen Stephen Bowes

You're asking me policy questions, so Mr. Gwozdecky is....

9:45 a.m.

Assistant Deputy Minister, International Security and Political Affairs, Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development

Mark Gwozdecky

I would say that, under this new strategy, you will see a gradual increase in Canadians deployed abroad, whether....

9:45 a.m.

Liberal

Mark Gerretsen Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

Yes, that's this policy.... I'm trying to get a sense as to where we've come from. Have we seen a decline? Would you agree that there has been a decline, and is it as a result of shifts in our foreign policy and security priorities?

9:50 a.m.

Assistant Deputy Minister, International Security and Political Affairs, Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development

Mark Gwozdecky

No, I wouldn't say the decline is the result of a shift in policy. I think the policy has taken some time to be put in place, and now that the policy is in place, you will see an augmentation across the board.

9:50 a.m.

Liberal

Mark Gerretsen Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

How do you make sense of that decay over the last several decades?

9:50 a.m.

Assistant Deputy Minister, International Security and Political Affairs, Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development

Mark Gwozdecky

I'm not sure I want to answer in a short period of time what's happened over several decades. I would go back to my statement, in which I tried to make clear that the number of Canadian boots on the ground isn't where we're trying to make a difference. We're trying to make a system-wide difference by affecting 100,000 UN peacekeepers deployed around the world, as opposed to a difference through the use of any 600 Canadian Armed Forces members. We think we can make a bigger difference by moving the dial on the whole UN system.