OTTAWA, Canada – Canada is in talks with the United Nations about donating money to a special trust fund set up for victims of sexual abuse by peacekeepers, a senior UN official revealed on Wednesday.

Atul Khare, the under-secretary-general for peacekeeping field support, wouldn’t say how much Canada is looking to provide for the Trust Fund in Support of Victims of Sexual Exploitation and Abuse.

He described it as a “very major contribution” that would be spread out over two years and help provide support and services to those who have been abused.

Khare revealed the talks during a news conference at UN headquarters in New York with Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan and Jean-Pierre Lacroix, under-secretary-general for peacekeeping operations.

The three were commemorating the International Day of the UN Peacekeeper, which is held every year in honour of the more than 3,500 blue helmets who have been killed since 1948.

The news that Canada could contribute to the trust fund comes as the UN struggles with revelations that peacekeepers either abused or exploited the very people they were to protect in a number of countries.

Even some Canadians have been implicated; UN figures show that three Canadian police officers deployed to Haiti have been accused of sexual abuse or exploitation since 2015.

The most recent was this last March, which the UN is currently investigating, while one of the others from 2015 was sent home for what the UN termed “administrative action.”

The third incident is also from 2015 and still under investigation.

The UN does not publicly identify alleged perpetrators.

Sajjan emphasized the need to reform and modernize peacekeeping during his news conference with Khare and Lacroix, as well as during an earlier speech to the International Peacekeeping Institute (IPI).

That includes increasing the role of women when it comes to planning and implementing peacekeeping operations, a message that Liberal ministers have also made at NATO.

“We in Canada feel strongly about the integration of women at all levels and in all roles in the promotion of peace and security,” Sajjan said in prepared remarks to the IPI.

“We know that local conflicts and crises often affect women and girls differently and more severely than they affect other demographic groups.”

But Sajjan did not specifically address the issue of sexual abuse or exploitation by peacekeepers, or whether Canada would become the sixth country to contribute to the special trust fund.

The fund currently has only about $436,000, according to the UN, with contributions from Bhutan, Cyprus, India, Japan and Norway.

The money is not given directly to the victims, a UN spokesman said, but goes to pay for services and support such as community outreach and education.

Sajjan’s visit to the UN on Wednesday was largely intended to set the stage for Canada hosting a major peacekeeping summit in Vancouver in November.

It was also expected to produce some awkward questions over the Liberal government’s failure, at least to this point, to make good on its promise to provide up to 600 Canadian troops for peacekeeping.

ST JOHN’S, Antigua – LIAT is assuring passengers that flights will operate tomorrow, Thursday, May as scheduled.

The airline said the planned action by the pilots have been withdrawn following a meeting today between the airline’s management and the Leeward Islands Airline Pilots Association (LIALPA).

NASSAU, Bahamas – The police have arrested a Guyanese woman who attempted to smuggle cocaine, that was concealed in her hair weave, into the country.

The police report that shortly after 3 p.m. (local time) on Tuesday, the female passenger, who had just arrived at the Lynden Pindling International Airport on a Caribbean Airlines flight from Suriname, was found with just over two pounds of cocaine hidden in her hair.

PROVIDENCIALES, Turks and Caicos Islands – It is time for the Caribbean Region to think big about its small economies, says Deputy Chief Economist for Latin America and the Caribbean at the World Bank, Dr. Daniel Lederman.

Further, small economies can be successful by being open and nimble. Lederman delivered the 18th William G. Demas Memorial Lecture, which took place in Providenciales, Turks and Caicos Islands on May 23, 2017, ahead of the start of the Annual Meeting of the Board of Governors of the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB).

Lederman, joining a distinguished roster of speakers who have delivered the Lecture, spoke on the topic, “Thinking Big about Small Economies: From ‘Open and Nimble’ to Talented Workforce”.

The Deputy Chief Economist noted that the characteristic of being small helps ameliorate the volatility caused by fluctuations in global demand for specific goods and services.

“Small economies appear to have an uncanny ability to reinvent themselves more quickly and more often than large economies. Simply put, they are more likely than large economies to innovate by introducing new exports and letting go of old ones,” he said.

“By being innovative, small economies become more nimble than large economies. Yet this nimbleness by itself might not be enough to send us on a path toward stable growth,” Dr. Lederman cautioned. “It does mean, however, that fiscal policies, specifically countercyclical fiscal policies become even more important for small economies than for large economies,” he noted.

Lederman also addressed concerns about “brain drain”, noting that smaller economies typically have less variety of economic opportunities and amenities.

ORLANDO – An attorney says a Canadian man took cocaine before boarding a flight where he allegedly attacked the crew with coffee pots and tried to open a cabin door.

The Orlando Sentinel reports that 34-year-old Brandon Michael Courneyea appeared Monday in Orlando federal court.

He has been charged with interfering with flight crew members and attendants after his May 15 flight from Jamaica to Canada was diverted to Orlando.

Defence attorney Corey Cohen said Courneyea was “very remorseful” about the incident.

Cohen said Courneyea took cocaine an hour before the Air Canada flight.

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