_James Bezan, Official Opposition Critic for National Defence, and Pierre Paul-Hus, Associate Critic for National Defence, issued the following statement today in response to the Liberal government’s announcement that they may deploy up to 600 Canadian troops on United Nations peacekeeping operations: _ “Today’s announcement confirms that the Liberals are willing to deploy Canadian Armed Forces personnel to advance their own political goals. They have blindly pledged 600 Canadian troops to a ‘possible deployment’ in an effort to secure a position on the United Nation’s Security Council. “This announcement could place Canadian troops in some of the most dangerous regions of the world, without responding to any pressing need in Canada’s national interest. Rather than appeasing UN bureaucrats, Canada’s contributions to the United Nations must be made in order to promote and protect Canadian values. “The Liberals’ assertion that ‘Canada is back’ is mindboggling and offensive to the great work that has been carried out by members of Canada’s foreign services over the past decade. Under the previous Conservative government, Canada was the second largest donor to the United Nation’s World Food Aid program, and was a leader in providing international disaster relief, improving the status of women, maternal and child health in developing countries, and standing up against forced, early and child marriages. The Canadian Armed Forces also took a leadership role fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan, ISIS in Iraq and Syria, and made a significant contribution to NATO assurance measures and supporting Ukraine against Russian aggression. “The Liberals’ nostalgic and blind commitment to United Nations peacekeeping demonstrates that their defence policy review was nothing more than a strategy to carry out their own predetermined policies. During the more than 40 defence roundtables Conservatives held over the summer, peacekeeping missions were never raised as a priority. Instead, Canadians across the country agreed that the primary focus of the Canadian Armed Forces must be defending Canada and our allies. “Despite Minister Sajjan’s weeklong fact finding mission in Africa, the government still cannot answer many of the questions posed by Canadians; instead they have raised new concerns. “Today’s announcement provides absolutely no details as to where, when or even why our troops will be deployed. The Liberals must answer basic questions such as what will the mission entail? What are the rules of engagement? Who will we be working with? Will there be a vote in Parliament? “Instead, all we have learned is that the Liberals are sending almost half a billion dollars to the United Nations, at a time when that investment is desperately needed at home.” -30-