Canadian Parliament welcomed Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelenskyy to Canada on Fri. Sept. 22. While this has been making the news because of one of the visitors in the Gallery, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on the address itself before discussing this visitor.
The visit emphasized to me that Ukraine needs Canada’s support to defend itself to preserve the idea of nationhood and that the world needs our resources now more than ever.
Borders matter, and Russia’s recent aggression threatens to dismantle that fundamental precept of statehood.
Borders, and what happens within them, need to be determined by that nation’s own people. Allowing Russia to flaunt its Soviet Era disregard for this fundamental idea would be a massive setback that would destabilize our world.
This conflict should also call into question how the world looks at security, not just from a military standpoint, but also how energy and food security play a role in conflicts like this.
For example, policies that contribute to energy dependence on dictatorships or reduce food production should be rejected outright.
In short, Canada is well placed among global democracies to fill the gap that would loosen the grip dictatorships have on energy and food-insecure jurisdictions, something that has been weaponized by countries like Russia.
And for those who question whether or not Canada is on the right side of this war, or if we should be involved in supporting the people of Ukraine, there are three things I would mention.
First, look throughout history and see the consequences of not standing up against unprovoked territorial aggression.
Not helping Ukraine now, and not supporting their efforts, and history repeats itself would mean instead of sending weapons and resources that help Ukraine defend their borders today, eventually, we’d once again be forced to send soldiers to die on the battlefields of Europe to preserve a rule-based international order and stand up to tyrants.
This is not new and is a fundamentally conservative idea, it was in fact Stephen Harper who boldly led the world in telling Putin that Ukraine was off limits and leading the then G8 to remove Russia—and this was at a time when much of the world refused to even acknowledge that as a problem.
Second, Russia has acted like this before in many places, and specifically when it comes to Ukraine, I would encourage you to look up the history of Holodomor. One of the worst genocides in world history, perpetrated by the Soviet Union exerting control and forcing famine upon Ukraine.
And third, Ukraine and Canada have a massive, shared connection. More than 1.3 million Canadians have Ukrainian heritage, and especially on the prairies, tough agricultural-minded Ukrainian immigrants helped establish Canada as a world-leading agriculture producer in the early days of westward expansion.
I’d also like to address the issue that has made headlines since the visit. A person was recognized during the Speaker’s remarks, and it was later revealed that this person was actually a Nazi veteran, having fought in the 14th Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS.
While MPs and guests applauded, no one outside of the Speaker has claimed to know who this individual was prior to the introduction. To be clear, no Conservative was aware of this individual’s presence.
The result has turned into an international and diplomatic embarrassment for Canada and has hurt Ukraine.
Diplomacy and managing state visits are a key responsibility of the Prime Minister and while he says he wasn’t aware of the specifics; it was Justin Trudeau’s responsibility to keep this sort of thing from happening.
He failed and unfortunately, the Prime Minister has refused to take personal responsibility for ensuring President Zelenskyy’s trip was a diplomatic success.
Conservatives will continue calling on Justin Trudeau to give a personal apology, instead of passing all the blame on to the Speaker (who has already resigned as a result of this) and the rest of Parliament. This however continues to show how Canada needs real leadership as opposed to surface-level virtue signalling from a Prime Minister who seems to care more about himself than the country he is tasked to lead.
It needs to be recognized how this has impacted Ukraine, Jewish people, Poles, many other affected groups, and has damaged Canada’s reputation.
Canadians and the world deserve better and will get it when Conservatives have the chance to restore Canada’s reputation around the world.
Damien C. Kurek,
M.P. Battle River—Crowfoot