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MP Garnett Genuis: Conservatives support Ukraine

Jan 18, 2024 | Featured, Politics

Garnett Genuis, MP (Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan).

In recent weeks certain Liberal politicians have sought to sow needless and unproductive division over support for Ukraine. Therefore, I appreciate this opportunity to reiterate Conservatives’ strong support for Ukraine and to clarify a few issues regarding our position.

In its own comments, the Government of Ukraine has always emphasized the urgent need for weapons support and for tough, consistent sanctions against the Russian regime. The Conservative Party of Canada has consistently called for increased weapons support and for stronger and more consistent application of sanctions against Russia. In these critical areas, we have always called on the Government of Canada to do MORE, not less.

When it comes to weapons, I proposed 6 amendments on behalf of the Conservative Party which were all aimed at increasing the flow of weapons to Ukraine. These amendments reflect our long-standing policy on Ukraine, and sought to do 4 specific things:

1. Establish a legal requirement for the federal government to create a long-term plan to increase defence production, with a particular emphasis on defense supplies required by the Armed Forces of Ukraine and the Canadian Armed Forces.
2. Establish a legal requirement for the Minister of National Defence to periodically review Canada’s inventory of military equipment and offer to donate to Ukraine any military equipment that is surplus or is no longer useful to Canada.
3. Add Ukraine to the list of “open policy” countries eligible for expedited review of arms exports, significantly reducing the time for review required before arms can be shipped to Ukraine.
4. Require EDC and BDC to support investments aimed at developing Ukraine’s domestic munitions manufacturing industries.

Sadly, all of my amendments were blocked by Liberals and New Democrats.

When it comes to sanctions, we have continually pushed the Canadian government to impose tougher and earlier sanctions against the Russian Federation. We have also particularly emphasized the role that Canada can play in supporting the application of energy-related sanctions. Canada, like Russia, is a major producer of energy resources. If Canada is aggressive and strategic about increasing especially its natural gas production and export, then we can relieve our European and Asia-Pacific partners of their dependency on Russian gas imports and make it easier for them to apply tougher sanctions.

Conservatives have criticized the federal government for failing to see the strategic importance of gas exports in this conflict. Rather than pursuing natural gas development to displace Russian gas, Liberals actually granted a sanctions waiver to allow the export of Gazprom turbines. Bizarrely, Liberals have done more to facilitate the export of Russian gas than the export of Canadian gas.

The Gazprom turbine waiver issue was so significant for the Ukrainian government that President Zelenskyy spoke out publicly on it and had the Canadian ambassador in Kyiv summoned. This issue was extremely important to Ukraine’s government because of the concern that the frequent granting of convenient sanctions waivers could undermine the effectiveness of the overall sanctions regime. In spite of the critical importance of this issue, none of the supposed champions of the Ukrainian cause within the Liberal caucus had the courage to speak out against their own government’s act of betrayal. It fell instead to opposition members to prosecute this issue alone.

Conservatives did aggressively prosecute the Gazprom turbine sanctions issue. Over about 6 months we used the Foreign Affairs Committee to pressure the government. Eventually, they did reverse course, but only after one turbine had already been sent back and after it was clear that the turbines were not going to be usable anyways. Meanwhile, damage to the united sanctions front had already been done.

Clearly, there is some disagreement over the update to the Canada-Ukraine free trade deal. Here too, context is important. Conservatives support free trade and we support Ukraine. We negotiated the first free trade deal between Canada and Ukraine. The proposed update to the agreement currently before Parliament, however, includes a provision where parties commit to promote carbon taxes. When the Conservative Party has made “axing the tax” a central policy priority, we clearly cannot endorse a trade deal that commits Canada to promoting a carbon tax. If Conservatives were in government, we would simply re-negotiate the offending provision. And we also tried to fix the carbon tax issue through an amendment at committee, but that too was blocked by the NDP-Liberal coalition.

Not everyone is going to agree with our position on the carbon tax, but it should be noted that the trade agreement is going to pass anyways. If there were any question of it not passing, we likely would have gotten more support to remove the particular offending section. Recognizing this reality, Conservatives tried to bring the trade agreement to a final vote quickly.

Notwithstanding our concerns, we wanted it to be able to pass in a timely manner. For political reasons, Liberals blocked those efforts and delayed their own legislation.

For the Ukrainian government, weapons and sanctions are clearly far more important than this update to a trade deal. The Conservative Party will continue to push the Canadian government to do more to support Ukraine in the ways that Ukraine requires most. We will also maintain our campaign to axe the carbon tax. It is a shame that, while claiming to support Ukraine,

Liberals blocked all of our amendments aimed at getting Ukraine more weapons. More weapons is really the central thing Ukraine is highlighting that it needs in order to achieve victory.

Finally, Conservatives have led the way in highlighting the horror of Russian state-coordinated child abduction. We helped bring child victims of this abduction to testify before a Parliamentary committee, leading to a strong statement underlining the genocidal nature of Russia’s invasion. Exposing these horrors underlines the urgent need for Canada and other countries to do more to support the realization of a decisive victory for Ukraine as soon as possible.

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