Ukrainian Canadian Congress presents results of its Party Leaders’ Survey

Kateryna Bandura, New Pathway – Ukrainian News.

Ahead of the 2019 Canadian federal election, the Ukrainian Canadian Congress (UCC) presented the results of its 2019 Party Leaders’ Survey. The survey summarizes the views of Canada’s national political parties for policy positions on six priorities of the Ukrainian Canadian community.

At the presentation on October 9, the UCC CEO Ihor Michalchyshyn thanked Canada’s party leaders for responding to the survey, and said that strong Canadian support for Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty is of “paramount importance” to the Ukrainian Canadian community amid the war that Russia has been waging on Ukraine for the past six years.

The UCC compiled the six focus priorities after extensive research and consultations with the Ukrainian Canadian community over several months. They include strengthening Canada-Ukraine defence and security relations, supporting democratic and economic reforms in Ukraine, ensuring security and dignity for seniors, welcoming newcomers to Canada, helping the Ukrainian Canadian culture flourish, and fighting online hate and disinformation.

Strengthening Canada-Ukraine defence and security relations

If elected, will your government provide Ukraine with lethal defensive weapons?

Liberal Party: As our Leader has said unequivocally after meeting with President Zelenskyy–Canada will continue “to stand with Ukraine against Russian interference and aggression.” This is why our Liberal government took the important step to allow Canadian companies to begin selling small arms to the Ukrainian government and military on a limited basis. A re-elected Liberal government would also consider further defence partnerships with Ukraine, once they have completed important and necessary structural reforms to their defence policy and institutions.

Conservative Party: Our party has a long, proud history of supporting Ukraine in the face of Putin’s military aggression. This will not change. A Conservative government will provide military aid to Ukraine, restore the use of Canada’s RADARSAT-2 data to Ukraine’s military, expand Operation UNIFIER, and advocate for a Canadian-led peacekeeping mission at the United Nations to restore and secure Ukraine’s true borders.

NDP: Canada should demonstrate its support for Ukraine and for reform and anti-corruption efforts in Ukraine by renewing and expanding its assistance programs and establishing visa-free entrance to Canada for Ukrainians. Sending lethal weapons risks escalation of the conflict and would do nothing to alter the strategic balance in the region.

The Green Party: No. We support the current Canadian Armed Forces efforts to assist in training and capacity building. However, we do not support the provision of weapons.

Does your party support the expansion and extension of Canada’s military training mission in Ukraine, Operation UNIFIER?

Liberal Party: The Liberal Party strongly supports Operation UNIFIER, which is why we extended this Canadian mission until the end of March 2022. We are committed to this mission for as long as we and our close allies in Ukraine believe it will be helpful and necessary. We have also repeatedly discussed supporting a peacekeeping mission in Ukraine, if it is ever deemed necessary.

Conservative Party: Yes. Conservatives have been calling for this for years now. Under the previous Conservative government, Canada was a world leader in its support for Ukraine. We started Operation UNIFIER, which deployed approximately 200 Canadian Armed Forces personnel to deliver training and build capacity for Ukrainian troops. We will build on these efforts.

NDP: Yes. We have called on the Liberal government to extend Operation UNIFIER, which has been instrumental in assisting Ukraine and sending a strong statement to Russia that we will not tolerate any actions against the territorial integrity of Ukraine.

The Green Party: Yes.

Does your party support strengthening sanctions against the Russian Federation, including the removal of Russia from the SWIFT international payments system, and increased sanctions against Russia’s financial, energy and military sectors?

Liberal Party: In government, the Liberal Party has been clear about its willingness to impose sanctions on a wide variety of Russian actors and sectors. If re-elected, and we have reason to believe more sanctions are warranted or required to curb Russian aggression or behaviour, we will not hesitate to pursue additional measures.

Conservative Party: Yes. The previous Conservative instituted the toughest sanctions regime in the world against Vladimir Putin. We will not hesitate to continue holding Vladimir Putin accountable for his unacceptable military aggression against Ukraine.

NDP: We would be open to using stronger multilateral, targeted sanctions to address Russia’s malign behaviour.

The Green Party: We support Canada’s continued use of strategic sanctions on Russia and will follow the advice ofCanadian intelligence agencies.

If elected, will your government oppose the construction of the Nord Stream II pipeline, including through the implementation of sanctions against companies involved in its construction?

Liberal Party: In government, we have consistently expressed concern about the Nord Stream II pipeline and its passage through parts of Europe, particularly through the territory of key NATO allies like Germany. Given Russia’s aggressive behaviour in Ukraine and Eastern Europe, along with its other clear actions of interference, we have legitimate concerns about what this pipeline could mean and have made that clear to friends and partners, including Ukraine.

Conservative Party: A Conservative government will remain focused on establishing Canadian energy independence and ensuring that Canadian oil and gas projects can access and compete in world markets.

NDP: In government, we will look at this issue and ensure we stand up against Russia’s expansionist behaviour.

The Green Party: Yes.

If elected, will your government implement Magnitsky Act sanctions against Russian officials responsible for the abuse of internationally recognized human rights of Ukrainian citizens?

Liberal Party: Our government has, thus far, sanctioned 30 Russian individuals under Canada’s Magnitsky legislation for gross human rights violations. When it is warranted and most appropriate and efficient to do so, we will pursue Magnitsky sanctions against Russian officials for human rights violations. In total, Canada has sanctioned over 430 Russian individuals and entities. We introduced the Magnitsky law and we will continue to use it when warranted.

Conservative Party: Yes. In recent years we introduced and passed the Sergei Magnitsky law, which the Liberals have not used to its fullest extent. The world’s worst human rights violators must be held accountable, particularly those within Putin’s regime.

NDP: Yes, Magnitsky Act sanctions should be used when appropriate.

The Green Party: Yes.

If elected, will your government designate the Russian Federation a state supporter of terrorism and designate the so-called Luhansk and Donetsk “Peoples’ Republics” as terrorist organizations?

Liberal Party: The Liberal Party unequivocally condemns the continued presence of Russian-backed and Russian-funded armed insurgents in the Donbas. Our party also will ensure that the steps we have already taken against these two so-called “Peoples’ Republics”, such as not allowing the use of Russian passports from the Donbas cannot be used to travel to Canada, will remain in place. The designation of terrorist organizations is a process led by law enforcement officials, who we will work closely with, to determine any possible next steps.

Conservative Party: The continued defence of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity must be one of Canada’s top defence and foreign affairs priorities. A Conservative government will never recognize Putin’s annexation of Crimea and Eastern Ukraine, nor will we recognize Putin’s puppet governments in Luhansk and Donetsk. Russia is a very serious threat, particularly with respect to Canada’s Arctic; we will not hesitate to do what is necessary to counter this threat.

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. We don’t want to interfere in this process.

The Green Party: No.

Supporting democratic and economic reform in Ukraine

If elected, will your government increase international assistance funding to Ukraine?

Liberal Party: A re-elected Liberal government will always be there to support the people of Ukraine, Ukraine’s sovereignty, and its territorial integrity. As part of this support, we have provided over $130 million in assistance to Ukraine since 2016, support which will continue as long as it is necessary. The people of Ukraine can count on the continued and unwavering friendship and support of Canada. We also ensured funding for observation missions to Ukraine for this year’s presidential and parliamentary elections, with more than $24 million in total support.

Conservative Party: In response to Russia’s illegal annexation of the Ukrainian territory of Crimean our Conservative government contributed over $500 million in military, economic and humanitarian assistance to Ukraine. We will continue to act to ensure Canada’s foreign aid dollars are spent effectively and where they are needed the most.

NDP: Canada should continue to support Ukraine and the Ukrainian people with economic, diplomatic, and political support as it consolidates its democracy. Canada should, at the very least, extend existing international assistance funding. A New Democrat government is committed to boosting Canada’s international development assistance, with the goal of contributing 0.7 percent of our Gross National Income to international aid.

The Green Party: Yes. Under a Green government, international assistance funds will be broadly increased and Ukraine will remain a priority recipient.

Does your party support increasing Canadian humanitarian assistance to all those who have suffered as a result of Russia’s war against Ukraine?

Liberal Party: Our government has always been at the forefront of supporting Ukraine through the last five years, as countless Ukrainians have suffered hardships due to Russian hostility. With the conflict in Eastern Ukraine in its fifth year, there remain millions of people in need of humanitarian assistance, with women and the elderly bearing the brunt of ongoing hostilities. Our government has invested millions of dollars to support conflict-affected Ukrainians, with an emphasis on women in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions. If re-elected, our party will continue to support humanitarian efforts like these, among others.

Conservative Party: We will continue to support the people of Ukraine in the midst of Putin’s military aggression, as we always have. While the Liberals have given $110 million to the Hamas-affiliated and anti-Semitic United Nations Relief and Works Agency, as well as provided aid dollars to countries like Russia, North Korea, and Iran, we will take steps to ensure that Canada’s foreign aid dollars are spent effectively and where they are needed most.

NDP: Canada should do as much as possible to meet the humanitarian needs of all Ukrainians who have borne the brunt of armed conflict. Canada should extend existing aid. This may well include increasing humanitarian assistance to Ukraine.

The Green Party: Yes. Canada has an important role to play in upholding human rights internationally.

Does your party support a long-term Canadian commitment to strengthening Ukraine’s democratic institutions, supporting Ukraine’s European and NATO integration and continued reform efforts?

Liberal Party: The Liberal Party has been and remains committed to strengthening Ukraine’s democratic institutions, its ongoing economic reform efforts, as well as the steps necessary for Ukraine’s integration into Europe and NATO. Our government is incredibly proud to have been able to host the 2019 Ukraine Reform Conference in Toronto in July. It was an invaluable opportunity for Canada and the international community –with delegations from 37 countries –to demonstrate our committed support for reforms in Ukraine.

Conservative Party: Conservatives support an increased NATO presence to respond to Russian escalation in the Black Sea, as well as the aspirations of Ukraine to join the NATO alliance. A Conservative government will also take the lead at the United Nations and advocate for a Canadian-led, UN peacekeeping mission to secure Ukraine’s true eastern border.

NDP: Yes. Ukraine is a friend of Canada’s and deserves our full-hearted support as it consolidates its democracy and rebuilds in the face of conflict. Canada is well-positioned to provide economic, political, and diplomatic support, by deepening people-to-people contacts and providing assistance to Ukraine’s institutions.

The Green Party: Yes.

If elected, will your government work with Export Development Canada to promote increased trade and investment between Canada and Ukraine, including providing accessible loans and export insurance for Canadian companies investing in Ukraine?

Liberal Party: The Liberal Party recognizes that Canada and Ukraine are connected by deep and enduring people-to-people ties and growing commercial relations. The entry into force of the Canada-Ukraine Free Trade Agreement in 2017 (which our government also signed) marked another milestone in a partnership that has been creating prosperity for citizens of both countries. We remain committed to working continuously with Ukraine to advance trade and investment opportunities for our respective businesses, particularly Canadian companies looking to invest in Ukraine.

Conservative Party: Increased trading relations between Canada and Ukraine are vital because both countries shared commitment to freedom and democracy. Trade provides us with an opportunity to deepen our partnership, deepen the people-to-people connections that exist between countries with similar values. The previous Conservative government initiated free trade negotiations with Ukraine; we will continue to build the Canada-Ukraine trading relationship.

NDP: Yes.

The Green Party: Yes. Trade is crucial to building economic stability.

With files from Ukrainian Canadian Congress