Profoundly Unserious

To fulfill the Trudeau Liberals' ill-considered peacekeeping promise from the 2015 election, Ottawa is still searching for a fitful truce to uphold or impose, somewhere. Anywhere. Preferably one that one that won't involve very many Canadians coming home in body bags.

For two years, the Liberals have been searching for a place where they can claim that Canada is Back at peacekeeping. Like a number of other promises that seemed like a good idea while campaigning – hello, last election ever under first-past-the-post – the peacekeeping pledge is one the governing Liberals have shown a wise reluctance to fulfill.

The problem is simple: In the absence of putting Canadian troops in a time machine and sending them to 1970s Cyprus, or 1950s Sinai, there are few traditional peacekeeping situations anymore. Traditional peacekeeping has soldiers patrolling an agreed cease-fire line, usually a border. The United Nations missions on offer today are generally between policing and war-fighting, no matter the colour of the helmets.

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There's been repeated talk of fulfilling the Liberal promise by dropping Canadian troops into a dangerous conflict in Africa, such as in Mali. The Trudeau government prudently keeps delaying any such decision.

But now Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer has a modest proposal: Why not send our troops to the breakaway region of eastern Ukraine?

There are good reasons for Canada to be a staunch supporter of Ukraine's sovereignty, and to support Ukraine against Russia's annexation of Crimea and ongoing Kremlin meddling backing the rebels in the country's east.

More than a million Canadians have ancestral ties to the Ukraine, including Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland, and its stability has a profound importance for our allies in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Also, Canada is already taking part in NATO's positioning of troops in the nearby Baltic region.

But the Tory proposal, a clever bit of marketing judo, is severely problematic. It's even dumber than the Liberals' original promise.

Mr. Scheer wants to put Canadian peacekeepers into the part of Ukraine currently occupied by Russia and its armed proxies. It's an oddly unserious idea for a government-in-waiting.

Of course Canada should demand that Russia get out of Ukraine, including leaving Crimea. But to imagine that Canada can lead a diplomatic and military mission to impose an agreement on Russia, one based on getting Moscow to recognize Ukraine's original borders, is fanciful, not to mention dangerous. Russia is, after all, a nuclear superpower. The goal in Ukraine is a avoid a wider war, not start one.

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