Canadian House of Commons Holds Debate on Situation in Ukraine

HOC Crest (mini)

OTTAWA – APRIL 30, 2015.  Canada’s House of Commons held a 4 hour “take-note” debate on the situation in Ukraine last night in which over 30 members of Parliament participated, including 4 members of the federal cabinet (the Hon. Rob Nicholson, M.P., P.C., Minister of Foreign Affairs; the Hon. Jason Kenney, Minister of National Defence; the Hon. Julian Fantino, Associate Minister of National Defence; and the Honourable Ed Fast, Minister of International Trade). All of Canada’s recognized political parties expressed support for Canada’s military training mission to Ukraine.

“Canadians across the country are deeply concerned by the aggression of Vladimir Putin’s Russia and invasion of sovereign Ukrainian territory in Crimea and in Eastern Ukraine.  Members of the House of Commons united in support of Ukraine and in opposition to Putin’s aggression,” stated Ukrainian Canadian Congress Executive Director Taras Zalusky.  “There were a large range of views on the positive areas where Canada can assist Ukraine, from providing weapons to defend itself, to increasing sanctions against Russia, to increasing trade and development assistance.  We thank all MPs who took part in this important debate.”

The official proceedings of entire debate may be found at: 

Attached, please find some key quotes from participants in the debate:

“Russia is hoping to use the democratic freedoms it curtails at home, and in particular its chokehold on the freedom of the press, to spread disinformation and weaken Ukraine’s resolve to defend its core values. It sees anyone’s attachment to these freedoms as a weakness. This tells us all we need to know about how poorly Putin understands democracy and the power of democracies.” – Hon. Rob Nicholson, M.P., P.C., Minister of Foreign Affairs

 Russia’s actions in Ukraine call for a robust and sustained response by Canada and its partners. It means supporting Ukrainian people to exercise their sovereignty. It means supporting European security in the face of the Kremlin’s attempts to change borders by force. It means imposing costs on the Putin regime in the Kremlin for its actions. Defending Ukraine in the face of Russia’s aggression means defending pluralistic democracy, freedom, human rights and the rule of law. It means building transparent and democratic institutions where bullies and thugs are held to account.”– Hon. Rob Nicholson, M.P., P.C., Minister of Foreign Affairs

 We are having a look obviously very closely at what has happened since the February 12 Minsk agreement. We have been very clear that we will judge Russia on its actions, quite apart from any agreements it says it is supporting, and we are prepared to take further action against Russia should it fail to implement this agreement.” – Hon. Rob Nicholson, M.P., P.C., Minister of Foreign Affairs

 I would like to ask the minister particularly about some economic measures that could be helpful in bringing a resolution to the situation. I know it is an extremely complicated matter. It is easier said than done, but I would like to know what discussion has been held among foreign affairs ministers or finance ministers within NATO or among others of our allies about the SWIFT financial system, which of course is the system that facilitates international banking. Russian commerce is facilitated by SWIFT. If Russia’s participation in SWIFT were in some way interdicted, that would have a very powerful impact.” – Hon. Ralph Goodale, M.P., P.C., Wascana

“what has been proposed in terms of providing training to individuals to deal with improvised explosives, to provide medical systems, to provide training in the NATO facility, we do not have a problem with that at all.” – Jack Harris, M.P., Official Opposition Defence Critic

“Ukraine is a sovereign country that includes Crimea and all its territory, including the eastern part of the country, even though there are people of Russian ethnic origin in this country. No foreign power has the right to violate Ukraine’s territorial integrity.” – Marc Garneau, M.P., Liberal Party Foreign Affairs Critic

“If we begin the process of putting sanctions in place, we have to be prepared to continue to strengthen them over time, and all countries that believe the same thing as Canada must be prepared to be consistent and continue to apply those sanctions.”  -Marc Garneau, M.P., Liberal Party Foreign Affairs Critic

“When Ukraine became independent, it signed a memorandum and gave up its nuclear weapons. That was so the countries that signed on to this respected its boundaries. Russia signed on to this, and obviously it has not respected Ukraine’s boundaries.” – Colin Carrie, M.P., Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment

“The Government of Canada believes that the ultimate responsibility for the terrible crime and disaster of the Malaysian Airlines flight being shot down over eastern Ukrainian territory rests with the Kremlin and President Putin. We join with all free and civilized peoples in demanding accountability for that terrible crime.” – Hon. Jason Kenney, Minister of National Defence

“Sharing satellite imagery with Ukraine has no negative effect on Canada’s ability to use RADARSAT-2 for supporting the defence and security of Canada[…]I should point out that when President Petro Poroshenko visited us in Ottawa last autumn, his number one ask of Canada was the sharing of these RADARSAT images to assist Ukraine in having a better situational understanding of the Russian threat posed within its own territory.” – Hon. Jason Kenney, Minister of National Defence

“This past August, Canada provided non-lethal military supplies to Ukraine, including a range of targeted protection medical and logistical equipment, such as 7,000 helmets, 30,000 sets of ballistic eyewear, 2,300 protective vests, 300 first aid kits, 100 tents, and 735 sleeping bags.[…] Since that time, we have made further commitments. Canada committed to a further contribution of non-lethal military supplies. From that commitment, Canada has delivered 30,000 coats, 70,000 pairs of Gore-Tex boots, and other equipment.” – Hon. Jason Kenney, Minister of National Defence

” Let there be no doubt, with this further military training operation, that Canada, Canadians, and the Canadian Armed Forces stand side by side with our Ukrainian friends and partners in sending a message of strength and resolve to a bully in Vladimir Putin, who only understands the language of deterrence. We continue to stand by the people of Ukraine.” – Hon. Jason Kenney, Minister of National Defence

“We must not forget that since April 2014, according to the UN and the World Health Organization, more than 6,000 people have died and more than 15,000 people have been wounded.[…]   The number of people displaced by the conflict has now reached 1.1 million.” – Helene Laverdiere, M.P., Laurier-Ste. Marie

” I was very interested to hear what the representatives of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress had to say when they appeared before the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development, which I am pleased to be a member of. Their remarks were so poignant, that I would like to quote part of their evidence. They said:


Canada can help foster NGO sector development, especially groups working in the areas of human rights, education, and law reform, as a vibrant civil society is one of the best guarantors of Ukraine’s long-term democratic evolution.” – Helene Laverdiere, M.P., Laurier-Ste Marie

“Russia has used force to change borders in Europe, violating international laws and damaging Russia’s relations with the west. Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea is a violation of the 1994 Budapest memorandum, which provided assurance for Ukraine’s territorial integrity.” – Hon. Julian Fantino, M.P., P.C., Associate Minister of National Defence

“The crisis in Ukraine is simply the latest and most visible in a series of trouble provocations and actions taken by Russia, all of which have demonstrated the Putin regime’s blatant and dangerous disregard for international law and the security of Europe. In fact, we now call into question Russia’s willingness to engage in meaningful dialogue on issues of European security or the de-escalation of aggression against the Ukrainian people.” – Hon. Julian Fantino, M.P., P.C., Associate Minister of National Defence

 I also want to say regarding the military equipment we delivered that I was fortunate enough to go there to ensure that it was handed over in a formal fashion from Canada to the Ukraine armed forces. We also have people over there who have done great work, such as Lenna Koszarny, who is a Canadian living in Ukraine. She is an accountant. She is working with our ambassador, Roman Waschuk. She was there to make sure that all the aid got delivered. There are other volunteers to track its movement as well. I want to give a big shout-out to them for making sure that our great military equipment is getting into the right hands and is being well-used.”– James Bezan, M.P. Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence

 I do not believe Putin is done yet. He is waiting to see how the west reacts. I believe the stronger our position, the slower he is going to move. If we start to try to appease his position, we are going to see him continue to push on, right down to Crimea, right through Mariupol, which we are already starting to see. The Minsk peace agreement is starting to fall apart. There is going to be a spring offensive, I fear. That could also lead them to try to connect right over to Odessa and Transnistria.” – James Bezan, M.P. Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence

” I want to reassure, from our side of the House, the people of Ukraine that we are there to help the people of Ukraine. We are there to help them become more independent, obviously, to look at strengthening institutions, to strengthen their economy, to make sure the people, particularly in the east who have been most adversely affected by this aggression, are going to get the support that we can provide to them.” – Paul Dewar, M.P., Official Opposition Foreign Affairs Critic.

 I had the opportunity yesterday to meet with Vira Savchenko, who is the sister of Nadiya Savchenko. Nadiya Savchenko is being imprisoned in Russia. She is a Ukrainian woman pilot who was abducted by the Russians and is from eastern Ukraine. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and international governments have urged her release from this precarious situation she is in. I want to put on the record that we should be putting sanctions directly related to her case on Russian officials. I hope the government takes this seriously.”   Paul Dewar, M.P., Official Opposition Foreign Affairs Critic

 On behalf of the people of Canada, we are all here tonight united in the determination to not let the situation in Ukraine fall from our agenda and to ensure that we are standing strong in condemnation of Vladimir Putin and his actions, his invasion in Ukraine. We stand firm in support and solidarity with the people of Ukraine.” – Peggy Nash, M.P., Parkdale-High Park

” I want to especially give a shout-out to Paul Grod and the Ukrainian Canadian Congress, because it has been the Ukrainian Diaspora that has really been vigilant and forceful in demanding accountability and support for Ukraine. I really want to thank them. There have been many long cold vigils and rallies and it has been a pleasure to stand with the community, as many of us here have.” – Peggy Nash, M.P., Parkdale-High Park

“there is a point in time when we have to call a spade a spade and be willing to go forward in a strong fashion and speak strongly, and do the things that need to be done in order to liberate a country that has been invaded by another country to the point that its freedoms and ability to rule itself have been taken over.” – Lawrence Toet, M.P., Elmwood-Transcona

“Russia’s flagrant violation of Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity have led to the deaths of thousands of innocent civilians and the displacement of many more thousands of Ukrainians within their own country.” – Hon. Ed Fast, M.P., P.C., Minister of International Trade

 We want to commend President Poroshenko and his government for their commitment to implement significant structural and economic reforms within Ukraine. As president, he has begun to set in place an ambitious timetable to build a more open and transparent market-based economy whose success will be driven by engaging with trading partners like the European Union, Canada and the United States. Canada strongly welcomes these reforms and our government is committed to taking all reasonable steps to support those reforms. In fact, Canada is already playing a role in those reforms. Ukraine’s economic advisory council, which was established by President Poroshenko, is actually headed by a Canadian, Mr. Basil Kalymon of the Richard Ivey School of Business at Western University.” – Hon. Ed Fast, M.P., P.C., Minister of International Trade

” Our government is grateful for the work that private sector organizations, such as the Ukrainian Canadian Congress, do in supporting Ukraine in its time of need.  I want to recognize the Canada-Ukraine Chamber of Commerce, which is playing a key role in expanding the business-to-business commercial relationship. Canadian companies such as Black Iron, Iskander Energy, Serinus Energy and Shelton Petroleum are among the many which are anxious to re-engage in the Ukrainian economy.” – Hon. Ed Fast, M.P., P.C., Minister of International Trade

“Ukrainian trade minister Aivaras Abromavicius and I announced this past January that we have restarted free trade negotiations between our two countries. This announcement builds on the commitment made by our countries’ two leaders during President Poroshenko’s historic visit to Canada last year.  This trade agreement would create new market access opportunities and   predictable conditions for businesses, further strengthening our bilateral partnership.  A free trade agreement with Ukraine would also help address many of the non-tariff barriers which presently act as a hindrance to Canadian companies wishing to do business in Ukraine.” – Hon. Ed Fast, M.P., P.C., Minister of International Trade

“it is important that we use every measure at our disposal to help Ukraine to move forward, to fight back against the aggression that it faces from its neighbour in Russia, and to fight against the perils in its economy right now.” – Linda Duncan, M.P., Edmonton-Strathcona

” I want to commend the Canadian government, not simply for stepping forward and providing military training aid. The Minister of Citizenship and Immigration […] travelled to Kyiv and promised additional aid. This additional aid is exactly in the direction that one of my colleagues mentioned tonight, which is building civil society and its ability to hold its government accountable. “ – Linda Duncan, M.P., Edmonton-Strathcona

“Canada has expedited and prioritized new bilateral development assistance programming to support Ukraine, more than doubling the development assistance budget over traditional levels.

Since January 2014, Canada has committed more than $578 million in funding to assist Ukraine. Of this, $139 million is for increased bilateral development assistance, or more specifically, to advance democracy and the rule of law, and to stimulate sustainable economic growth.” – Lois Brown, M.P., Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Development

“There is a new medical mission leaving this week on a Diaspora-led mission and recently as well Canada has sent 1,100 tactical medical units and 238 sets of state-of-the-art night vision goggles to Ukraine’s army.  I also praise Canadians in Ukraine like Lenna Koszarny and others who in collaboration with Canada’s Ambassador to Ukraine, Roman Waschuk, have ensured that all materiel has been sent, received and delivered accordingly.” –Ted Opitz, M.P., Etobicoke-Centre

“Vladimir Putin has personal ambitions to recreate an empire of his own and we are not going to allow him to do that. Canada and its allies are going to stand firm in the face of Mr. Putin and all of us are going to enjoy the freedom, democracy, human rights and rule of law that all of our nations have earned over 70-plus years of having to deal with the communist system.” – Ted Opitz, M.P., Etobicoke-Centre

“The Ukrainian forces need that reinforcement. I know their people are battle-hardened, however, they need to understand the fundamentals of training, they need to be able to train themselves eventually. As a former trainer on many courses myself, it is important that all of this is reinforced and that we provide the fundamentals to the Ukrainian armed forces so that they can carry on forward themselves in future years, keeping their army strong and well-trained.” – Ted Opitz, M.P., Etobicoke-Centre

“The real heroes are those individuals who put their lives on the line, many of whom lost their lives in that battle. We appreciate the efforts of people from coast to coast to coast here in Canada who in their caring hearts want to see Canada play a role in what is happening in Ukraine. That has been a motivating factor in what we are debating today and in the many other debates we have had, for well over a year, related to Ukraine.” – Kevin Lamoureux, M.P., Winnipeg North

“I was shocked, like many Canadians, by Russia’s brutal aggression against Ukraine in February last year, leading to the current unlawful and unacceptable occupation of Crimea. I was shocked, because Russia’s actions in Ukraine show a fundamental disregard for the rules of the international system. This hostility is a threat to the people of Ukraine, to our friends and allies in Eastern Europe, and to the world order as we know it.” – Wladyslaw Lizon, M.P., Mississauga- East Cooksville

“One of the most important choices for the Government of Ukraine was to rid the country of nuclear weapons and to accede to the nuclear non-proliferation treaty. Taken in the spirit of non-proliferation and disarmament, and contributing to global security, this decision was applauded by the world community.  In return, the Government of Ukraine sought guarantees in signing the Budapest memorandum on security assurances on December 5, 1994. This document governed the removal of weapons of mass destruction from Ukrainian territory in exchange for assurances from its partners and co-signatories the United States, the United Kingdom and Russia. The signatories committed to respecting the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine.  […]  Russia, through its reckless and cynical policies, has broken its commitments. Instead of being a guarantor of Ukraine’s security, it has become its biggest threat. In March 2014, Russia annexed Crimea illegally. Today it continues to maintain troops in eastern Ukraine and to provide weapons and support to insurgents there. Russia is determined to break up Ukraine.” – Bernard Trottier, M.P., Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs

“In response to a request from the Ukrainian government and in collaboration with international partners, Canada has provided non-lethal military equipment to the Government of Ukraine to address a number of the critical needs of Ukraine’s forces. Specifically, these contributions, which include night-vision goggles, medical kits, a mobile field hospital, high-frequency radios and ordnance disposal equipment, enhance the capabilities of the Ukrainian armed forces in their fight to defend their country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”  Bernard Trottier, M.P., Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs

“While Canada has done much to help Ukraine meet its security challenges, the needs of the country are still greater. The Government of Canada will continue to work with our Ukrainian and international partners to further Ukraine’s security.  Canada will not rest, nor back away, when the security of Ukraine, a close friend and partner, continues to be threatened by a belligerent neighbour.” – Bernard Trottier, M.P., Parliamentary Secretary to the Minster of Foreign Affairs

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