Provision of Lethal Arms Not Among NDP’s Priorities, Duncan Says

Left to Right: Oleksandr Melnyk, Dmytro Lavrenchuk, Linda Duncan, Jars Balan. Marco Levytsky

NP-UN Western Bureau.

Providing Ukraine with lethal arms is not high on the New Democratic Party’s priorities as far as Canadian aid to that country is concerned, says the party’s leading spokesperson on Ukrainian issues.

“From my perspective and my party’s, we don’t believe that should not to be the focal point of what is the most important thing that Canada could provide (for Ukraine),” said Linda Duncan, MP for Edmonton Strathcona and the NDP Vice Chair for the Canada-Ukrainian Parliamentary Friendship Group, in response to a question from New Pathway – Ukrainian News during a panel discussion, held prior to the March 2 performance of “Blood of Our Soil” at Edmonton’s Westbury Theatre.

“We need to be there stepping up and telling the world come to the table and we need to resolves this in a diplomatic way,” she added.

Duncan also said there is no military solution to the current conflict in Donbas.

“I mean, what weapons can we provide from Canada that will counter what Russian capabilities are?”

Earlier during the panel discussion, she noted that while there is huge pressure by the Ukrainian Canadian community for sending arms and the report of the all party parliamentary committee to consider that, there is also a deep concern that with the corruption that exists in Ukraine, these weapons could get into the wrong hands.

“There has been a revolution of thought within civil society and that’s where I would like to see Canada giving its support. To teach local government how to work with the community. That the community should be participating in the decision-making. That they should support independent media. That they should support education for the youth and get them involved in government,” Duncan said.

Canada also has much to offer Ukraine in terms of expertise in such fields as energy efficiency and could even send journalists who speak Ukrainian and Canadian English there to help counter Russian propaganda, she added.

Another speaker, Dmytro Lavrenchuk, a veteran of the war in Eastern Ukraine, also raised the issue of Russian propaganda, noting that people in Eastern Ukraine, who had no access to non-Russian media, actually believed the propaganda that Ukrainian volunteers were out to kill their children and rape their women.

He also stressed the need to support civil society in Ukraine as that is the sector that pressure government to end corruption.

Oleksandr Melnyk, a Bayduza Post-Doctoral Fellow at the Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies, noted that point as well and added that the older generation of Ukrainians maintain a paternalistic mentality as they look for some leader to make the changes, rather than to do so themselves.

However, the younger generation tends to think much more independently, jhe added.

The panel discussion, entitled “Voice of War: Ukraine’s Contemporary Conflict”, was moderated by Jars Balan, coordinator of the Kule Ukrainian Canadian Studies Centre for the Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies (CIUS), and Acting Director of the CIUS.