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Leadership

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Leadership

Today I am here to speak on a complex issue; Canadian peacekeeping in times of political ambiguity. Canadian peacekeepers in modern times must have courage and vision, yet the risks rewards and sacrifices that they endure in this process often take tolls. One man in the 1960's in Canada showed extraordinary leadership in shaping the kind of peacekeeping we as Canadians are so proud of today. The vision of a man like Lester B Pearson has become an institution for which Canada is held in high regard. However, the dreams represented by the political structures engendered by Pearson and his generation have in our times been corrupted into the nightmare experiences of men like Romeo D'Allaire. It rests now with men and women led by people like Rick Hillier to take up the challenge of international peacekeeping in very uncertain times.

Lester B Pearson was a great leader as well as a Canadian Prime Minister. At the age of 18 he enlisted in World War 1, taking the ultimate risk to defend his country and beliefs. As Prime Minister, Pearson contributed to Canada's growing independence as a nation with the introduction, for example, of the Canadian Flag. He also overturned Canada's old immigration policy, and replaced it with a points policy to create equality in the immigration process. Pearson was a man who believed in fairness and equality of opportunity. However what made him truly great was the formation of a United Nations peacekeeping force. In 1956 the Suez Canal crisis threatened to cause a world war. Pearson was able to solve this potential disaster by getting all sides to agree to the creation of a neutral United Nations force, to maintain the peace. His international leadership and diplomacy resulted in nothing less than changing the world. His vision was enacted by political will and through the efforts of many, others were saved.

The United Nations owes its peacekeeping success to the dream initiated by Lester Pearson. However, it is this same United Nations, which failed to act on the calls of Romeo D'Allaire to what he saw as a potential genocide in Rwanda in 1993-1994. Despite D'Allaire's leadership and clear calls for aid, political inaction led to what the CBC called a "killing spree" that left D'Allaire "a man who need therapy and nine pills a day to control his shattered mind." Only years later have people come to understand the horror of D'Allaire's story and the heroism he has shown in continuing to make that story heard. D'Allaire was sent to aid the fighting tribes. Yet, when he asked for aid he was told that there was none to give. With the sights D'Allaire saw of the genocide that unfolded around him he was emotionally destroyed. D'Allaire had desperately dreamed of safety for those people with whose lives he was entrusted. Like Pearson, he called for many nations to act to avert atrocity. Yet, he failed. Nonetheless in his failure and his fight to draw the world to recognize its responsibility in the Rwanda tragedy, D'Allaire stands as a great leader. He faces the demons of his past experience and in spite of his trauma continues to work

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