MP Garrison Returns from Visiting Canadian Troops in Mali: Calls to Supoort the Peaces Process

Seven members of the National Defence Committee visited Mali and Sénégal from February 9th to 16th at the urging of NDP Committee Defence member MP Randall Garrison (Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke).

The purpose of the trip was to visit Canadian Forces members on Task Force Mali, the Canadian mission providing medi-evac support to MINUSMA and to evaluate Canada’s contribution to peace and stabilization efforts in Mali.  

The visit was under a media and social media blackout until the committee returned as the risk involved in the visit was rated as “extreme.” The committee visited the Canadian Forces in the field at Gao in Mali and the support hub for the mission in Dakar.  As well the committee met with the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General, officials of the Mali and Senegalese governments, the Canadian Ambassadors to Mali and Senegal, Ambassadors from other nations involved in MINUSMA, and non-government organizations active in Mali.  

“Canada’s current contributions are important and well-received, but we must continue to play a strong role in peace and stabilization efforts in Mali,” Garrison said.  “The international community must succeed in Mali if we are to avoid a major humanitarian disaster and the increase in drug trafficking, gun trafficking, human trafficking and enormous refugee flows that would result from a failed state in Mali.”  

Garrison said the Defence Committee consistently heard four things about Canadian support for the UN’s MINUSMA peace and stabilization mission in Mali;  

1) high praise for the contribution Canada is making by providing medi-evac support for the UN mission;

2) concern that Canada’s hard departure date of August 1st will leave a gap in medi-evac services that will place lives at risk and force reductions in activities of MINUSMA as the Romanian contingent replacing Canada will not arrive until October 15th;

3) requests that Canada speed up its delivery on our commitment to provide police, and in particular women police officers, to MINUSMA to help build the effective police services so necessary to stabilization efforts in Mali;

4) requests that Canada provide additional support to the peace process in Mali, in particular urgent support from MINUSMA’ s Disarmament, Demobilization, and Re-Integration programs.

“I am calling on the Defence Committee to present an interim report to the House of Commons as soon as possible,” said Garrison. “The report should convey urgent recommendations based on the messages the committee heard on its recent visit to Mali.”