From August 10-16, Canada’s Minister of National Defence Harjit Sajjan carried out a “fact-finding” trip to Africa, which is part of the preparations for a new role for Canada in Africa. Sajjan was accompanied by retired Liberal Senator and Lieutenant-General from the Canadian Armed Forces Roméo Dallaire (Dallaire was also Force Commander of United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda from 1993-1994); Retired Supreme Court Justice and former Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, Louise Arbour; and Canada’s Ambassador to the United Nations, Marc-André Blanchard. In the particular case of Dallaire and Arbour, they are key point people in the international campaign to justify the intervention of imperialist states in the internal affairs of other nations in the name of stopping genocide or war crimes. This is then used to justify war crimes by the imperialists. Their participation in the Canadian delegation indicates that similar pretexts will be created for meddling in Africa.
During the trip, the delegation traveled to Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
In the five African countries they visited, they met with Sajjan’s ministerial counterparts and a number of other ministers, top military officials and heads of state. It is also reported that he met with representatives from the United Nations, the African Union and NGOs “to better understand the nature of conflict on the ground and the work currently being done by African partners and NGOs.” Canada appears to be positioning to involve itself in “conflict” in Africa which it is presenting as a “peace operation.” This indicates that Canada is positioning itself to play a more dirty role in the divide-and-rule politics of imperialism, which has caused immense damage and destruction on the African continent and which the peoples of Africa have fought to overcome. This whole shift was articulated during U.S. President Barack Obama’s speech to Parliament in which he called on Canada to act more forcefully to uphold “common values” internationally – a direct appeal for Canada to embroil itself in U.S. intervention in the affairs of other countries in the name of “human rights,” “protecting women and children,” etc.
This re-engagement in Africa is intended to demonstrate that Canada is playing its role in the United Nations, which the Liberals assert the Harper government did not do. It is also likely linked to the Trudeau government’s announcement of its intention to bid for a United Nations Security Council seat, with a two-year term beginning in 2021.
Upon his return to Canada, Sajjan stated: “My meetings with African partners were an important opportunity to learn the ground truth about security issues affecting the continent. The information gathered during these meetings has helped us get a better understanding of the situation on the ground, and will inform future partnerships as Canada looks to re-engage in a full spectrum of multilateral peace operations.” Canada’s concern for “security issues” and “gathering information on the ground” appears to be more about cherry-picking a country where it can flex its muscle most effectively than about assisting the peoples of Africa.
1.A statement issued on August 16 by the Department of National Defence / Canadian Armed Forces reports that while he was in Ethiopia on August 10-11, Minister Sajjan toured the Ethiopian International Peacekeeping Training Center and participated in a series of roundtable meetings with NGOs, think tanks, and UN representatives. He also met with African ambassadors currently hosting or contributing troops to peace support operations, as well as with ambassadors from countries funding United Nations and African Union peace operations. His visit concluded with a meeting with representatives from the African Union Peace and Security Department, “where he received a comprehensive presentation on their current efforts and capabilities.”
On August 12 in Nairobi, Kenya, Sajjan visited the International Peace Support Training Centre, among other places. In Uganda the next day, he met with representatives of UNICEF and the World Food Programme “to discuss the protection of vulnerable children in armed conflict.” On August 14 in Tanzania, he met with representatives from the Aga Khan Development Network, discussed construction of the Aga Khan University and toured the Aga Khan Hospital. The statement indicates that since 2000 Canada has provided over $320 million to the Aga Khan Foundation Canada “in support of development and humanitarian assistance activities” in Africa, Asia and the Middle East.
On August 15-16 in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sajjan met with political and military representatives of the UN Stabilization Mission in the country (MONUSCO) and representatives from the Special Police Squadron for the Protection of Women and Children. He also visited a hospital run by the International Committee of the Red Cross and toured a shelter for demobilized children supported by UNICEF and Canada.
(Open Canada, CBC, Globe and Mail)
Source: TML Weekly Information Project, August 27, 2016 – No. 33