Michael MacKay, Radio Lemberg, 31.03.2018
Putin scored a big win in Canada on March 30. A Russia appeasement faction showed that it dominates the mandarinate in Ottawa and that it can crush any move to effectively oppose Russian aggression or help Ukrainian defence of the West.
The Liberal government summarily rejected the key recommendations of its own parliamentary committee to support Ukraine. In a move sure to please Putin, Canada refuses to even consider visa-free travel reciprocity between Canadians and Ukrainians. Canada refuses to provide lethal weapons to Ukraine to help resist Russian aggression. The Liberals cut-off the sharing of Radarsat satellite imagery with Ukraine, and it now refuses to reverse that decision, even though such a move would save Ukrainian lives on the battlefront in Donbas where Russia is invading. Canada refuses to provide military assistance to Ukraine’s cyber defence forces in their fight against Russia’s information warfare. Putin could not have hoped for a greater victory.
This is not the image the Liberal government tries to portray to Ukraine or to the Ukrainian-Canadian community. Canada’s Foreign Minister, Chrystia Freeland, was expected to be a strong supporter of Ukraine because of her Ukrainian heritage. She was expected to be a strong opponent of of Russian aggression because the Putin regime sanctioned her in 2014. It has not worked out that way. Canadian policy since a Liberal government was elected in October 2015 has been merely to extend the policies of the previous Conservative government. Canada kept going with the military training mission in Yavoriv, kept going with the police training mission, and kept going with sanctions. But the Liberal government did not keep the promises it made during the election campaign to sanction Igor Sechin and Vladimir Yakunin, to explore with allies banning Russia from the SWIFT international payment system, or to harmonize Canada’s sanctions regime with the United States and the European Union. As foreign minister, Chrystia Freeland has not “come up with the goods” when it comes to supporting Ukraine or opposing Russian aggression.
For all the talk of Magnitsky sanctions, Canada has not sanctioned any Russian human rights abuser for crimes committed in the invasion and occupation of Crimea and parts of Donbas. Crimean Tatars and Ukrainian patriots are being cruelly tortured by agents of the Muscovy regime, but Canada has not put any of the perpetrators on the Magnitsky list.
In early days of the Trudeau government, when Stéphane Dion was Canada’s foreign minister, an appeasement faction took solid root in two key bureaucracies in Ottawa: Global Affairs Canada and the Prime Minister’s Office. “Talk to Russia” was Dion’s watchword, and the poisoned language of appeasement didn’t leave when Dion left. A Russo-centric bias has infiltrated the mandarinate in Ottawa, and it is more powerful than the overwhelming support for democratic Ukraine that exists among Canadians. The parliamentary committee which recommended visa-free status for Ukraine was dominated by the governing Liberal party. It is shocking that the Liberal government would reject the carefully considered views of both its own party and the opposition. These parliamentarians took months to hear witnesses and gather evidence to prove that support for Ukraine and effective opposition to Russian aggression is in Canada’s national self-interest.
The Trudeau government refuses to even consider visa-free travel for Ukrainians to Canada. This is a particularly bitter betrayal. Canada is betraying the Canada-Ukraine Free Trade Agreement: it is lifeless when free movement of goods and services is not matched by free movement of people. Canada is betraying its friends and peer democracies in the European Union: the EU and Ukraine have enjoyed visa-free reciprocity for nine months, and it has been a resounding success. Ukrainians have visited 30 countries in Europe, without the bother of visas, and there have been an insignificant number of security or immigration concerns arising out of this. The Government of Canada is being deceitful when it says it sees a risk to Canada of “migration.” 30 of Canada’s closest friends and allies not only don’t see such a risk but in fact don’t experience it.
Europe is a winner with the EU-Ukraine Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement combined with visa-free travel for Ukrainians. Canada comes out the loser for denying itself the benefit of visa-free travel for Ukrainians to Canada.
The Liberal government is stealing from Canadian citizens the enjoyment of visa-free reciprocity with Ukraine. This measure is unjust, is arbitrary, is wrong … it’s unCanadian.
Canada’s national defence is devastated by the Liberal government’s nay-saying to Ukraine. Rejecting visa-free travel for Ukrainians, refusing to supply lethal weapons to Ukrainian defenders of the West, withholding satellite imagery that could save lives on the Donbas battlefront, and doing nothing about a cyber defence alliance with Ukraine … all these policies weaken Canada and embolden aggressor Russia.
A parliamentary committee demonstrated the necessity for Canada to support Ukraine and to take effective action against Russian aggression. But the Russia appeasement faction in the Canadian government withheld support from Ukraine and ensured nothing will be done to counter Russian aggression.