Federal parties fill in UCC’s 2021 Survey

Kateryna Bandura for New Pathway – Ukrainian News.

The day after Canada’s federal election this year, Ukrainian Canadian Congress (UCC) congratulated Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the Liberal Party of Canada on their victory.

“We look forward to working with Canada’s new government,” stated Alexandra Chyczij, National President of the UCC. “We thank all parties and candidates, who took part in Canada’s election, for their dedication to serving Canada.”

Ahead of the election, UCC created a Federal Election Guide. It encouraged the community to contact their local candidates and ask them questions about the public policy challenges that impact our community and the broader Canadian public. UCC also surveyed Canada’s national political parties for their views and policy positions on six key policy priorities of the Ukrainian Canadian community. The UCC and the UCC Charitable & Education Trust developed these priorities through extensive consultation and research, including community engagement. They have been discussed in our previous issue, dated September 16.

Below are the results of the survey. The results have been condensed for clarity.

Strengthening Canada-Ukraine Defence and Security Relations

1. Does your party support the extension of Operation UNIFIER, Canada’s military training mission in Ukraine past March 2022? Does your party support increasing the scope of Operation UNIFIER?

Liberal: Under our Strong, Secure, Engaged and Inclusive platform, the Liberal Party of Canada announced our intention to remain a leading contributor to NATO operations, including by extending Canada’s support to Ukraine and opposition to Russian aggression, through Operation UNIFIER. We will continue to help extend the scope and impact of Op UNIFIER as conditions permit and will also extend Operation Reassurance in Eastern Europe and maintain Canada’s regular participation in NATO’s aerial and maritime patrol operations.

Conservative: Yes, Canada’s Conservatives support intensifying and expanding Operation UNIFIER, Canadian Armed Forces’ military training and capacity-building mission in Ukraine, supplying Ukraine with lethal weapons and reinstating the provision of RADARSAT imagery.

NDP: New Democrats believe that Canada should consider extending Operation UNIFIER, which has provided instrumental training to increase the capacity and capability of Ukrainian Security Forces and sends a strong message to Russia that Canada supports Ukrainian territorial integrity and sovereignty.

2. Does your party support:

a) the provision by Canada and NATO of real-times satellite imagery and intelligence to Ukraine on Russian military movements?

Liberal: To strengthen Ukraine’s military capabilities, the Liberal government has deployed 200 current CAF members under Operation UNIFIER, who have trained more than 12,500 members of Ukraine’s Security Forces since the mission began in 2015. We also contributed a senior representative to Ukraine’s Defence Reform Advisory Board. This representative provides strategic advice on defence reform to Ukraine’s Minister of Defence and senior officials.

Conservative: Yes, a Conservative government will restore the provision of RADARSAT-2 data to Ukraine, which is currently denied by the Liberal government.

NDP: New Democrats support Canada’s commitment to provide non-lethal military aid to Ukraine and believes that selling arms to Ukraine would increase the risk of escalation and is unlikely to deter Russian aggression.

b) the provision by Canada of defensive weapons to Ukraine in the form of military-to-military assistance?

Liberal: In 2017, we added Ukraine to the Automatic Firearms Country Control List, to allow Canadian companies and individuals to apply for permission to export prohibited weapons and other equipment to Ukraine to help protect its territorial sovereignty. Canada also supplies Ukraine with non-lethal military gear, including: communications systems used for field operations; a mobile field hospital; explosive disposal equipment; medical kits used for military field operations; night vision goggles.

Conservative: Yes, a Conservative government will supply Ukraine with defensive weapons and continue the Canadian Armed Forces’ military training and capacity-building mission in Ukraine.

NDP: New Democrats support Canada’s commitment to provide non-lethal military aid to Ukraine and believes that selling arms to Ukraine would increase the risk of escalation and is unlikely to deter Russian aggression.

c) working with NATO allies to strengthen Ukraine’s naval and air defence capacities?

Liberal: A re-elected Liberal government would expand collaboration and information sharing with Canadian partners and across all levels of government with respect to addressing security risks in foreign research and investment partnerships. We would continue to work with partners like Ukraine to hold Iran accountable for the illegal shootdown of PS752 and continue to provide support to the families and loved ones of the victims as they fight for justice and reparations.

Conservative: Yes, a Conservative government, in partnership with our NATO allies, support the strengthening of Ukraine’s naval and air defence capacities.

NDP: We are willing to work within NATO to explore ways that NATO can further assist in enhancing Ukraine’s defence capabilities.

3. Does your party support Ukraine’s membership in NATO? Will your party work to ensure that a NATO Membership Action Plan for Ukraine is accelerated?

Liberal: Over the past 6 years, the Liberal government has remained committed to furthering Ukraine’s goals for greater Euro-Atlantic integration. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met the President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, ahead of the Prime Minister’s participation in the G7 Summit and NATO Summit to reiterate Canada’s continuing support for Ukraine’s Euro-Atlantic aspirations.

Moreover, under Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s leadership since 2019, Canada and the United Kingdom have shared the role of NATO Contact Point Embassy (CPE) in Kyiv, where we support NATO’s partnership and public diplomacy activities. Canada also supports the NATO-Ukraine Joint Working Group on Defence Reform through the delivery of language training, staff officer training and peacekeeping training for Ukrainian military and civilian personnel.

Canada will continue to support Ukraine.

Conservative: The previous Conservative government led international support for Ukraine after Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine and illegally annexed Crimea. Canada’s Conservatives will never recognize the illegal annexation of Ukrainian territory. We will provide Ukraine with defensive military aid, including enhanced Canadian assistance to NATO training for Ukrainian armed forces. Under a Conservative government, Canada will continue to proudly share the role of NATO Contact Point Embassy in Kyiv with the United Kingdom. This will include Canada’s ongoing support for the NATO-Ukraine Joint Working Group on Defence Reform through the delivery of language training, staff officer training and peacekeeping training for Ukrainian military and civilian personnel.

NDP: New Democrats support Ukraine’s effort to seek a Membership Action Plan to guide modernization and reforms as required to join NATO.

4. Will your party use the authority in the Magnitsky Act to impose sanctions on Russian officials responsible for the violation of the human rights of Ukrainian citizens being held illegally in Russia and Russian-occupied Crimea, Donetsk and Luhansk?

Liberal: Since Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014, Canada has sanctioned more than 440 individuals and entities. As the Honourable Marc Garneau, Minister of Foreign Affairs, stated in March 2021 with the announcement of new sanctions on individuals and entities involved in the illegal annexation of Crimea, “For 7 consecutive years, Russia has systematically ignored calls from the international community to end its violations of Ukraine’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and international law… [W]e stand ready to take further measures with our allies and partners as required.” These measures include Magnitsky sanctions and we will explore their increased use.

Conservative: A Conservative government will make greater use of Canada’s Magnitsky sanctions law to hold Vladimir Putin’s regime accountable. We would also demand justice and compensation for the families of victims of the downed Ukrainian Airlines flight PS752, applying Magnitsky sanctions and pursuing legal avenues against those responsible.

NDP: We are very concerned about the detention of Ukrainian citizens in Russia and Russia-occupied Crimea. A New Democrat government will use Magnitsky sanctions where appropriate to hold Russia accountable for human rights violations.

5. Will your party designate the Russian Federation a state supporter of terrorism and list the so-called Donetsk and Luhansk “Peoples’ Republics” as terrorist organizations?

Liberal: With authoritarianism, geopolitical competition, and foreign interference on the rise, safeguarding Canada’s national and economic security requires strong action both at home and abroad. We will continue to implement domestic measures to protect Canadians and work closely with our friends, allies, and partners to respond to illegal and unacceptable behavior by authoritarian states, including China, Russia, and Iran. We will work with international partners and Canada’s security agencies to ensure that terrorist organizations that threaten the security, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine are held accountable for their actions.

Conservative: Whether it’s his support for Assad’s Syria or political assassinations undertaken on the soil of our allies like the United Kingdom, it is clear that Vladimir Putin has engaged in blatantly criminal activity which has led to countless civilian deaths. Any such designation that would severely impact diplomatic relations with Russia has to be undertaken only after close and deliberate consultations with Canada’s allies in the US and EU. With respect to Putin’s puppet republics on sovereign Ukrainian territory, Conservatives do not recognize their legitimacy in any way, shape, or form, and will closely consider further measures that would further isolate them from the international community.

NDP: The list of terrorist entities is maintained by the Department of Public Safety, upon the advice of the Minister and based on criminal and other intelligence. New Democrats are committed to upholding the integrity of that process.

Supporting Democratic and Economic Reform in Ukraine

1. Does your party support the continued commitment of $50 million annually of Canadian support for development and socio-economic assistance to Ukraine? Does your party commit to increasing this amount of assistance as needs arise?

Liberal: A re-elected Liberal government will increase Canada’s international development assistance every year towards 2030 to realize the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. A re-elected Liberal government would double our funding to grassroots women’s rights organizations and continue to make significant investments in comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services as well as the global care economy. We would also enable staff at Canada’s embassies around the world, including in Kyiv, to support the work of feminists, LGBTQ2 activists, and human rights defenders by quadrupling our annual investment in the Canada Fund for Local Initiatives.

Conservative: When Conservatives were last in power, between January 2014 and the 2015 Federal Election, Canada announced more than $568 million in financial assistance to Ukraine. This included:

  • $400 million in loan assistance;
  • $97 million in bilateral development assistance to promote economic growth;
  • $35.5 million in bilateral development assistance to advance democracy, human rights, rule of law and to support civil society;
  • $3 million to support humanitarian assistance;
  • $12.1 million to support monitoring missions and elections observation;
  • $20 million in security assistance.

If elected, Canada’s Conservatives will build on this legacy of providing support to Ukraine.

NDP: A New Democrat government is committed to more than doubling Canada’s global aid contributions from 0.3% of GNI to 0.7% of GNI. We believe that Ukraine deserves Canada’s whole-hearted support as it works to reform and modernize its democracy and we believe that Canada is uniquely positioned to provide economic, political and diplomatic support, by deepening people-to-people contacts and providing assistance to Ukraine’s institutions. New Democrats will continue and consider increasing development and socio-economic assistance to Ukraine as needs arise.

2. Will your party support efforts to de-monopolize Ukraine’s economy and encourage fair market competition in Ukraine?

Liberal: Through our development and security programming the Liberal government has supported Ukraine reform priorities such as constitutional, electoral, judicial, anti-corruption, decentralization and social policy reforms. In 2019, Canada co-hosted the third Ukraine Reform Conference with Ukraine in Toronto, Ontario, which brought together partners from 37 countries to support Ukraine’s reform process and its path to Euro-Atlantic integration. A re-elected Liberal government would establish a Canadian Centre for Peace, Order and Good Government to expand the availability of Canadian expertise and assistance to those seeking to build peace, advance justice, promote human rights, inclusion, and democracy, and deliver good governance, including on issues such as economic reform.

Conservative: Yes. This is one reason why the previous Conservative government began the negotiations for the Canada-Ukraine Free Trade Agreement. Canada and Ukraine have a deeply rooted historical relationship, and building a strong trade partnership is key to supporting Ukraine’s economy and market competition. This agreement will support the economic reform and development efforts of the Government of Ukraine, strengthen the Canada-Ukraine partnership for peace and prosperity, and help pave the way for long-term security, stability, and broad-based economic development in Ukraine.

NDP: A New Democrat government is committed to continue supporting Ukraine in economic and political reforms and encouraging de-monopolization.

Welcoming Newcomers to Canada

1. Does your party support the development of clear roadmap for visa-free travel to Ukrainian citizens travelling to Canada on short-term visits?

Liberal: In January, the Liberal government announced the establishment of a new Canada-Ukraine Mobility Working Group to identify and improve mobility opportunities for Ukrainians seeking to come to Canada, once COVID-19 restrictions are removed, while continuing to ensure the integrity of our respective migration and visa frameworks. This mobility working group is a unique partnership between the Canadian and Ukrainian governments that will let Canada and Ukraine share best practices on migration management, increase recruitment, promote Canada’s economic immigration programs and further strengthen cooperation on migration-related matters.

Conservative: Yes, a Conservative government will allow visa-free travel for Ukrainians visiting Canada.

NDP: Yes, and we have called on the current government repeatedly to take this step.

2. Does your party support allowing inter-company personnel transfers for Ukrainian businesses seeking to open branches in Canada?

Liberal: The Liberal government implemented the innovative and game-changing Global Skills program that features faster application processing, work permit exemptions and enhanced customer service. This includes a dedicated service channel for employers who are seeking to make an investment in Canada. A re-elected Liberal Government will grow and improve this unique program by simplifying permit renewals, upholding a 2-week processing time, and establishing an employer hotline.

Conservative: The Conservative party favours strengthened business ties with Ukrainian businesses and will seek to reduce regulatory barriers as much as possible.

NDP: Yes.

3. Will your party dedicate more resources into translating important federal government documents, directives and information into as many languages as possible, including Ukrainian?

Liberal: A re-elected Liberal government will explore how we can increase access to government information in more languages.

Conservative: Canada’s Conservatives will work to make government information accessible to all Canadians, including Ukrainian Canadians. We will also significantly reduce the federal government’s spending on advertising with big foreign tech companies and instead direct federal ad dollars to Canadian media, including ethnic media outlets, who play an important role in keeping Canadians informed.

NDP: Yes.

Helping Our Communities and Culture Flourish

1. Will your government work ethnocultural communities to develop supports for heritage language instruction and heritage language schools?

Liberal: The Liberal government is committed to ensuring that all communities are supported in our education system and will consider how the federal government can expand any support.

Conservative: Canada’s Conservatives support and recognize the work of ethnocultural community groups. A Conservative government would support a variety of community-based organizations, including those that offer language instruction.

NDP: Yes

2. Will your party introduce legislation recognizing the 1944 Deportation of the Crimean Tatar People (Sürgünlik) by the Soviet regime an act of Genocide, and establishing May 18 as the Day of Remembrance of the Genocide of the Crimean Tatar People?

Liberal: In June 2019, Liberal Member of Parliament Borys Wrzesnewskyj introduced the following motion at the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development “That, in support of the historic truth and as requested by Mustafa Dzhemilev, the Crimean Tatar deportation of 1944 be recognized as a genocide perpetrated by Soviet dictator Stalin, and that May 18 be designated a day of remembrance for the Crimean Tatar deportation (Sürgünlik).” This motion passed unanimously. Wrzesnewskyj had previously requested unanimous consent in the House of Commons for a motion to declare the Sürgünlik a genocide. Liberal members supported the declaration of the Sürgünlik as a genocide in the past and a similar motion or legislation would be welcome and supported by Liberals.

Conservative: Yes. Over 70 years ago, more than 200,000 innocent people – the entire Crimean Tatar nation – were forcibly deported from their homes in Crimea to Central Asia and Siberia. Orchestrated by Joseph Stalin, this horrific act of genocide deprived the Crimean Tatars of their homeland, and sent them into exile for decades. Canada’s Conservatives have always supported the Crimean Tatar people, as part of our principled stand in support of Ukraine. In 2016, Conservative MP Kerry Diotte introduced Bill C-306, which would have recognized the Crimean Tatar deportations as a genocide. Conservatives support recognizing May 18 as the Day of Remembrance of the Genocide of the Crimean Tatar People.

NDP: We recognize the genocide and support this idea.

3. Will your party introduce legislation establishing September as Ukrainian Heritage Month in Canada?

Liberal: Liberal Member of Parliament, Yvan Baker, brought forward legislation to recognize September as Ukrainian Heritage month in the last parliament. A re-elected Liberal government would continue to support this important legislation.

Conservative: Canada’s Conservatives support establishing September as Ukrainian Heritage Month in Canada.

NDP: Yes.

Fighting Online Hate and Disinformation

1. Does your party support the removal of RT, Sputnik, and other Russian state broadcasters from Canadian airwaves and online space?

Liberal: A re-elected Liberal government will work with G7, NATO, and likeminded partners to develop and expand collective responses to cyber threats, foreign interference in democratic processes, and egregious violations of human rights, including through the use of sanctions, support for international institutions, and coordinated action to reinforce the rules of international trade. Moreover, we will introduce legislation within the first 100 days to combat serious forms of harmful online content, specifically hate speech, terrorist content, content that incites violence, child sexual abuse material and the non-consensual distribution of intimate images. This would make sure that social media platforms and other online services are held accountable for the content that they host. Our legislation will recognize the importance of freedom of expression for all Canadians and will take a balanced and targeted approach to tackle extreme and harmful speech.

Conservative: A Conservative government will revoke the licences of state-run and state-controlled broadcasters that spread disinformation.

NDP: We will investigate foreign state propaganda networks regarding their contravention of the Television Broadcasting Regulations and examine ways to modernize it in order to combat disinformation and hate.

2. Will your government commit to working swiftly to eliminate online hate from social media platforms, including Russian disinformation campaigns that knowingly promulgate hatred against Ukraine and Ukrainians?

Liberal: In addition to the measures described in answer (1) above, proposed measures to strengthen the Canada Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code will more effectively combat online hate.

Conservative: A Conservative government will revoke the licences of state-run and state-controlled broadcasters that spread disinformation.

NDP: Yes.

This article is written under the Local Journalism Initiative agreement