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“Cautious Optimism” Means We Must Keep Up Advocacy Activism


New Pathway – Ukrainian News.

While the Liberal government has been reluctant to publicly commit Canada to participation in a peacekeeping mission in the Donbas, let alone assume a leadership role, there are several indications that they are moving in that direction.

When asked a direct question whether the government was prepared to endorse “the idea of a Ukraine mission led by Canada, a peacekeeping mission to help stabilize the conflict between Kyiv and belligerence from Russia in that region”, during a teleconference following the NATO defence ministers conference in Brussels, November 9, Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan waffled, but expressed “cautious optimism” that such a mission will move forward.

Pressed by the reporter to explain what he meant by “cautious optimism” Sajjan gave a hint when he stated: “We need to take the time to work out the details to make sure any type of proposal is to the benefit of Ukraine itself.”

This is reminiscent of the obfuscation that preceded the actual renewal of Operation Unifier in March. The Government was not prepared to give any concrete statements until the details had been ironed out. But at the eleventh hour, the operation was renewed.

While Sajjan’s answers give us hope that “cautious optimism” will indeed prevail, Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland’s official statement that Canada has begun a diplomatic push to prepare for such a mission, that same day, is even more significant.

“Around the world Canada has been leading conversations with a number of countries about the viability and utility of peacekeeping and policing in Ukraine. The Prime Minister has raised the issue with the President of Ukraine and with the Chancellor of Germany,” she said.

“I have personally explored the feasibility and prospects of such a mission with the President and the Prime Minister of Ukraine, with the US Secretary of State, with US Special Envoy Kurt Volker, and with the UN Secretary General last week. In recent weeks, I have spoken to several European governments and touched on this important issue with all of them,” added Freeland.

But we must also give credit to the Conservatives for directly proposing that Canada not only participates in such a mission, but also takes a leadership role.

“Conservatives support Canada’s leadership and participation in a United Nations peacekeeping mission in eastern Ukraine, in accordance with the requests made by the Ukrainian government,” stated Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer, also on November 9. “Canada staunchly supported the people of Ukraine when their territorial integrity was threatened more than three years ago and the duty to support and protect free and sovereign peoples does not diminish with time,” he added.

Our community is pleased that support for Ukraine crosses partisan boundaries, thus strengthening Canada’s special relationship with Ukraine.

But we must also note that this all-party support comes about because our community has been able to speak with a unified voice and has made a concerted effort to advocate for Ukrainian issues with our elected officials.

And just because we have reason to be cautiously optimistic, we should not ease up on our continued advocacy activism.

To reiterate what we stated in the October 26, 2017 editorial of this newspaper entitled “Ukraine Should be Canada’s Modern Day Suez Mission”:

Our community must continue to speak with a unified voice to deliver this message to Members of Parliament, to the media, and to our fellow Canadian citizens. The time is right for Canada to step up to the plate on the issue of UN peacekeeping in Ukraine and for Ukrainian Canadians to help make that happen. Let’s get to it!

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