Ms. Pam Goldsmith-Jones (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Trade, Lib.):
Mr. Speaker, it is a great pleasure to rise in the House today in support of legislation to implement the Canada-Ukraine free trade agreement.
In the review of the Canada-Ukraine free trade agreement today, many members have underscored the friendship between our two countries and the importance of support to Ukraine in light of Russia's illegal annexation of Crimea and the ongoing Russian-backed insurgency in eastern Ukraine. As we witness renewed violence in the conflict, our hearts are with the people of Ukraine.
In spite of these challenges, Ukraine has made significant strides in its anti-corruption and reform efforts. We would like to emphasize the need to encourage the momentum toward securing Ukraine's future as a stable, democratic, and prosperous country.
The Government of Canada remains determined to deepen our bilateral ties with Ukraine to this end, including through this landmark agreement. A free trade agreement is a very valuable instrument to enhance our commercial ties and nurture a more stable, predictable trading relationship for sustainable economic growth.
The Canada-Ukraine free trade agreement is a high-quality agreement that, once implemented, would create new commercial opportunities for Canadian and Ukrainian businesses alike. This agreement would result in preferential market access for virtually all Canada-Ukraine trade. It would facilitate enhanced co-operation, improve our ability to resolve trade irritants, increase transparency in regulatory matters, and reduce transaction costs for businesses.
The Canada-Ukraine free trade agreement addresses non-tariff barriers and would help to ensure that technical regulations relating to food safety and animal and plant health and life are not used in a discriminatory way. These provisions would help to ensure that companies can take advantage of market access and not be hindered by unjustifiable or discriminatory rules.
The Canada-Ukraine free trade agreement would contribute to the protection and enhancement of intellectual property rights, which would help to foster competitiveness, innovation, and creativity, and to combat infringements and to establish a consultative mechanism providing a way to aid in bilateral resolutions.
This agreement includes provisions on competition policy, monopolies, and state enterprises to ensure that the benefits of trade liberalization are not undermined by anti-competitive business conduct, such as collusion among competitors, or by market distortion from monopolies or state enterprises.
This would create a fair and predictable environment for Canadian businesses. This agreement addresses the needs of the 21st century economy. Provisions on e-commerce would help to facilitate e-trade by ensuring that Canadian and Ukrainian businesses and consumers would not face customs duties on electronically transmitted digital products.
Also, the agreement includes comprehensive and progressive provisions in the areas of labour, environment, transparency, and anti-corruption, as well as protections for the government's right to regulate in the public interest.
Canadians can be very proud of how this agreement would contribute to building sustainable economic growth in Ukraine. I am equally proud of the opportunities it promises to deliver to Canada and to Canadian businesses in a progressive and inclusive manner.
A key outcome of this agreement is the new market access that it would provide for goods produced and manufactured in Canada. Once the agreement is fully implemented, 99% of Canada's exports would be eligible to enter Ukraine duty free. This would put Canadian exporters on a level footing with European companies, which are already benefiting from the European free trade agreement with Ukraine.
Once implemented, the high-quality provisions of the Canada-Ukraine free trade agreement would create opportunities across Canada and across our industrial, fish and seafood, agriculture, and agrifood sectors. These sectors are all areas where Canada offers something important to the world, and they are integral to our economy in small and large communities right across the country.
Our exports of industrial products currently face tariffs of up to 25% in Ukraine. The majority of these tariffs would be eliminated the day the agreement enters into force. Examples of goods that stand to benefit include iron, steel, industrial machinery, plastic products, cosmetics, and fish and seafood. With regard to fish and seafood, for example, the sector employs 76,000 Canadians. Exports to Ukraine in this sector face tariffs as high as 20%, which would be eliminated when the agreement takes effect.
The agreement would also create opportunities for Canada's agriculture and agrifood sector. According to Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, in 2014 Canada was the fifth-largest agricultural exporter in the world, and the agriculture and agrifood industry employed 2.2 million Canadians. Canadian exports to Ukraine in this sector faced tariffs, however, of up to 30%, the majority of which would be eliminated upon entry into force of the free trade agreement, and nearly all of the remaining ones would be eliminated within seven years. Key Canadian agricultural products that stand to benefit from this duty-free access include beef, pulses, grains, canola oil, processed foods, oilseeds, and animal feed. It is important to note that nothing in this agreement would weaken our supply-management approach for dairy, poultry, and eggs.
Western Canada already has a significant export relationship with Ukraine, which averaged almost $93 million per year over the last five years. The tariff eliminations and reductions we have secured would expand this relationship. Canadian pork exporters, for example, would be able to take advantage of unlimited duty-free access on fresh and chilled pork. Canadian exporters would also benefit from a large duty-free tariff rate quota for frozen pork and certain pork products, which currently face tariffs of up to 15%. The tariff rate quota would create meaningful new opportunities for Canadian farmers as it would exceed current Canadian exports of pork by a significant amount. It would also allow them to compete on a level playing field with competitors from across the European Union. Canadian wine producers and pulse exporters would also benefit from full tariff elimination. This would open up new opportunities for these important industries.
Canadian companies from central Canada already export to Ukraine, and exported an average of $69 million per year over the last five years. The Canada–Ukraine free trade agreement would provide new opportunities for the exporters of central Canada. For example, Ukraine would eliminate its 5% tariff immediately on maple syrup, which would provide new opportunities for the Canadian maple industry. Manufacturers in central Canada would be able to take advantage of new opportunities provided by the elimination of tariffs in this sector. The majority of these tariffs would be eliminated as soon as the agreement is implemented, which means early benefits.
Canadian exporters in Atlantic Canada already export an average of $11 million annually. Exporters from this region would also benefit, in particular as a result of the elimination of Ukrainian tariffs on fish and seafood.
Creating new commercial opportunities like these is crucial to Canada's economic success because, if done properly, our government believes that trade can raise living standards, create more jobs, increase prosperity, and help to strengthen the middle class. Canada is a trading nation, and we need access to international markets to thrive. In Canada, one in six jobs is related to exports. In 2014, there were more than 33,000 Canadian goods-exporting companies, most of which are small and medium-sized enterprises. These companies understand the necessity of trade and the opportunities for trade that are generated by free trade agreements like the one we are discussing and supporting today. That is why implementing and expanding Canada's free trade agreements globally is a priority for this government.
The Canada–Ukraine free trade agreement is a tangible expression of our belief and experience that open, rules-based trade is a driver of economic opportunity and growth. By eliminating essentially all tariffs on currently traded goods between our two countries, Canada's exports would become more competitive in the Ukrainian market, a market that is very promising. Though Canada and Ukraine's bilateral merchandise trade was relatively modest in the years immediately following Ukraine's independence, our countries sought to encourage bilateral trade to complement the strong and extensive people-to-people linkages that tie our nations together. In 2015, despite ongoing challenges in Ukraine, bilateral trade between Canada and Ukraine increased to almost $300 million. Economic analysis undertaken by Global Affairs Canada projects that, once fully implemented, the Canada–Ukraine free trade agreement would result in an increase of 19% in bilateral merchandise trade between our two countries over bilateral trade in 2014.
This government also recognizes the need to provide support to companies that are seeking to utilize the provisions of a new free trade agreement. In order for the benefits of free trade agreements to be fully realized, businesses need to be aware of the agreements and how we can help. This is especially important for Canada, as many of our exporters are small and medium-sized enterprises that may not have the resources to remain informed about business developments such as this.
In order to ensure that Canadian companies have the information they need to take advantage of this free trade agreement when it comes into force, the government will lead communications and outreach initiatives with business. The government will also coordinate and conduct information seminars for business audiences, organized with provincial, territorial, and private-sector partners. In addition, Canadian trade commissioners will be ready and able to assist companies seeking to expand into the Ukrainian market and will be able to advise their clients about the provisions of this free trade agreement and the opportunities.
We also know that Canadian stakeholders support this agreement. We have heard that support from provincial and territorial government representatives, Canadian companies and industry associations, and groups such as the Ukrainian Canadian Congress and the Canada-Ukraine Chamber of Commerce.
Some Canadian stakeholders, such as the Canadian Pork Council, the Canadian Agri-Food Trade Alliance, Alberta Pork, Spirits Canada, and the Canadian Meat Council have publicly also announced their support for this initiative.
We also saw more than 400 businesses attend the Canada-Ukraine Business Forum in Toronto in June of last year. The objective of this forum was to provide information on the Canada-Ukraine free trade agreement.
This level of participation gives a clear indication of the strong support that exists for this agreement in Canada and in Ukrainian business communities. The importance of our relationship with Ukraine, the benefits that the Canada-Ukraine free trade agreement would bring, and the level of stakeholder support all indicate that this is an initiative we should move toward without delay.
Therefore, I urge all hon. members of the House to support Bill C-31, moving us closer to the realization of the economic benefits of the agreement and setting forth a clear demonstration of our ongoing commitment to deepening our partnership and our relationship with Ukraine.
Mr. Garnett Genuis (Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, CPC):
Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise to address this very important discussion about the Canada-Ukraine free trade agreement that, of course, we in the Conservative Party are very pleased to be supporting and I think not unfairly take a fair bit of credit for it being here today.
It also gives me an opportunity to speak more broadly about the Canada-Ukraine relationship and the importance of ongoing co-operation, and indeed some of the areas where we believe the government needs to do better when it comes to supporting our ally, Ukraine.
People watching this debate will hear members from all parties speak about the importance of that relationship and the critical contribution that the Ukrainian communities here in Canada have made to our country, but also about the ongoing opportunities for mutually beneficial exchanges, economically and on other fronts. We will hear those sentiments from all members of this House.
There are some important ways in which the government is not putting its money where its mouth is when it comes to co-operation with Ukraine, so I appreciate the opportunity to draw the attention of members of the House to those issues as well as certainly celebrating the important step forward that this marks.
If members will indulge me for a minute, I would like to make a few comments about my own constituency, because we have a very large and very active Ukrainian Canadian community in my own constituency of Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan.
I might get in trouble with some other members of my caucus if I said we are number one in terms of reflecting Ukrainian culture in Canada, but certainly we are up there. We have the Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village, which is an outdoor interpretive centre that provides visitors with an opportunity to learn about and understand the experience of early Ukrainian pioneers to western Canada, many of whom came at a time when multiculturalism was not recognized or appreciated in the same way that it is today. They were brave in coming to a new country, stepped out, and contributed so much to the rich, multicultural fabric of western Canada in particular, but also of our entire country.
My constituency is home to many eminent Ukrainian Canadians, including former Alberta premier Ed Stelmach, who continues to be very active and a great citizen of our community.
I personally had the opportunity to visit Ukraine in August 2016. I was there for the 25th anniversary of independence. Of course, we are celebrating this year the 150th anniversary of our country, but very much the founding of Canada is an event in our history, not an event of personal memory. Being in Ukraine and living through, in a sense, observing the emotions and the joy that people there have in their independence and how recent that experience was, how most people remember a time before independence, really hits home the importance of that national pride and how much Ukrainians have struggled in order to achieve their independence.
Ukraine and Canada are very similar. We have a great deal in common in terms of our values, our history, our diversity, our commitment to democracy. The one thing that makes us very different is that Ukraine is in a much tougher neighbourhood, and that has created all kinds of challenges, histories of occupation, ongoing occupation in eastern Ukraine, and yet the resilience of the Ukrainian people in the midst of all sorts of challenges is really inspiring for me.
We had the opportunity to hear from people about events as recent as the Maidan where young people, people of all ages risked their lives to stand for democracy, to stand up for the kinds of values that they wanted their country to embody. It is inspiring for me as a democratic politician here to see people in other countries willing to risk, willing to give their lives in order to stand up for the values they believe in.
Many of us here stand up for our values in different ways, but fortunately we are not in a position where we have to risk our lives to do so. The opportunity to interface with people who are in that situation really pushes me, and I think for other members who have not had an opportunity to have those conversations, prods them to value the things that we hold dear and to be willing to stand up and fight for them.
We have an important relationship with Ukraine. It is a relationship of shared values, it is a relationship of shared history, and that relationship is particularly evident in my constituency and the many people in my constituency who trace their origins to Ukraine.
In the history of the recent changes in Ukraine, the Maidan, the democratic movement for change that took place two years ago, the touchstone for that discussion was a trade debate. It was about the desire of the Putin regime to prevent Ukraine from having closer trading relationships with Europe.
As we move forward with this bill to implement closer trading relationships between Canada and Ukraine, it is worth thinking about in that context. These kinds of trading relations between Ukraine and countries, democracies with similar values, are very important for Ukraine as a country that is solidifying its position and its commitment to the kinds of values that we share, the kind of trade as well as security co-operation. This is important for Ukraine to continue to develop and be reflective of those values.
We speak in general about the benefits of trade and maybe I will get time to speak more broadly about the economic benefits of trade, but there is a strategic dimension to trade as well. Trade provides us with an opportunity to deepen our partnership, deepen the people-to-people connections that exist between countries with similar values.
If I can draw a parallel to another trade discussion, I think the debate around the trans-Pacific partnership was quite similar insofar as it was an agreement between like-minded democracies, generally speaking, in the Asia-Pacific area, which were trying to set the terms of trade in a way that reflected their values without allowing a situation where the terms of trade in that region were set by China. One could speak of the economic benefits of the trans-Pacific partnership, but there was also a critical strategic value that was not recognized often enough in the context of our discussion.
Similarly, we can speak about trade with Ukraine, trade and other forms of co-operation between Canada, Europe, and other countries with Ukraine as helping to ensure that Ukraine is not economically vulnerable to the kind of extortion that the Putin regime has at times tried to exert on other countries. There is a strategic importance to this deal in terms of ensuring that Ukraine is able to continue to stand for the kinds of values that we regard as important and certainly that reflects the desire that I saw in the Ukrainian people when I was there last year.
Continuing in that vein, I would like to talk about the things I think the government needs to do better on when it comes to supporting Ukraine. There are a number of policy areas and I suspect there are members of the government who agree with me on these issues and want to see the cabinet respond. We have had a change in terms of some of the cabinet positions involved in Foreign Affairs, so I hope that we will see some changes in these areas.
The government talks about the importance of our friendship with Ukraine, but it also has talked about wanting to have closer relations with Russia. We need to make sure that the relationships with the partnerships that we establish internationally are indeed reflective of our values, and that we are not making unacceptable compromises in that respect.
One of the issues that is critical here is the issue of human rights inside Russia. It is interesting for me that for many people in the Ukrainian community, a key priority is Canada being involved in the fight for improved human rights inside Russia. We can look around and see that any time a nation becomes a threat to the human rights of its own people, the government that is exacting human rights abuses against its own people will also be a threat to international peace and security. There is a continuity between the abuses of basic human rights that happen inside Russia and the abuses of human rights that are the result of Russian actions in Syria, in occupied parts of Ukraine, and in other countries.
Many people have been horrified by what the Russian government has undertaken inside Syria, but similar actions were undertaken in Chechnya and elsewhere. There is a continuity between the internal policies and the external policies. That is why it is so important for the Ukrainian community, as well as for the Russian community, that Canada take a strong position in support of the Magnitsky sanctions. Magnitsky sanctions are sanctions that target individual human rights abusers. They are named after Sergei Magnitsky, who was a Russian lawyer who was murdered. The goal of these sanctions is to individually and directly sanction people involved in human rights abuses in a way that would limit their ability to travel to undertake economic activity in other countries.
Canada can be a leader in this respect. It is important for our partnership with Ukraine, and for our commitment to our values more generally, that we have a government that stands for the Magnitsky sanctions, which is something our party supports. If I am not mistaken, it is something the government supported when it was in opposition. It is something we need to move forward on. I hope to see on that point some clear signals from the new Minister of Foreign Affairs, because this is important in standing up for our values in that region of the world.
More directly, and I have already raised this during our debate in questions and comments, we need to strengthen our military co-operation with Ukraine. Ukraine is in the middle of a foreign occupation. The Putin regime has occupied Crimea and parts of eastern Ukraine.
Even some of the language that is often used around this is somewhat misleading, the language of “separatists”, or perhaps “Russian-backed separatists”. In reality, what I was told repeatedly by Ukrainians I talked to is that this is not a case of local people who are upset at the Ukrainian government. This is an issue of people sent over the border by the Russian government and not identifying themselves, at least initially, as Russian soldiers but who are clearly agents of the Russian state.
The co-operation in response to that occupation is important. On some aspects of this, there is agreement from the government. Our position is that Canada needs to do as much as we can to support Ukraine.
Under the last government, we were providing vital satellite images to Ukraine that were useful for their military activities. Canada had the resources. We were collecting these satellite images, and we were sharing that information with Ukraine. It made sense for us to do so.
Ukraine is an economic partner of Canada. It is also a key ally, so let us share that satellite imagery with Ukraine in a way that helps it succeed in its fight against, let us call them what they are, Russian-backed terrorists who are occupying Ukraine.
I want to emphasize in the strongest possible terms upgrading our military co-operation in terms of the use and sharing of those satellite images. It is of critical importance to me, to my constituents, to the opposition, and I suspect, to at least some members of the government.
We need to hear clearly from the government with respect to renewing Canada's ongoing training mission. That is obviously another issue. Clarity from the government going forward about what is going to be done is important. Any ongoing support we could provide would be valuable. I know that the contribution of Canadians has been greatly appreciated. We can make a positive difference. It is noticed and it is appreciated by Ukrainians.
One of the things we could do in terms of our ongoing co-operation with Ukraine is reinstate international initiatives around communal harmony. One of the activities undertaken by the office of religious freedom, which existed in the previous government and has since been cancelled, was supporting programs supporting communal harmony in Ukraine. Members may not be aware of the religious dimension of the occupation, but there has been a great deal of persecution of different religious communities in Russian-occupied parts of eastern Ukraine. That has been a key dimension of the repression of human rights that has taken place there.
Canada's engagement on this front, on initiatives on communal harmony, is very helpful to Ukraine. I know that the government has cancelled the office of religious freedom and has touted the alternative office it has created, but we have not actually seen the restoration of the direct involvement in key projects around the world that were making a difference in these areas. I think the model that existed was working. At the very least, let us look at reinstating some of that involvement Canada had in Ukraine, because it was positive, it was helpful, and it was certainly making a valuable difference.
Those are some key areas where we can do more. I know that members, again, across all parties, are committed to the idea of a partnership with Ukraine, but there needs to be the putting of real mettle behind that sentiment. Standing up for human rights issues inside Russia, as well as throughout the region, would mean Canada implementing its own Magnitsky act, strengthening our military co-operation with Ukraine, providing some clarity around the renewal of that training mission, restoring the sharing of satellite images, and finally, reinstating these communal harmony types of activities. I see these types of initiatives as being very positive for Ukraine.
In the remaining time I have, I will make a few comments with respect to some of the economic aspects of this agreement and the impact it will have.
As other members have mentioned before, when this agreement comes into force, we know that Canada and Ukraine will immediately eliminate duties on very close to 100%, 99.9%, and 86% of respective current imports, thereby benefiting Ukrainian and Canadian exporters and consumers. This will provide real, substantial, concrete benefits for Canada and Ukraine.
Yes, there is the friendship connection and the strategic dimension, but there are also real economic gains that will come from this partnership. Canada's GDP is expected to grow by $29.2 million under this agreement, and Ukraine's GDP would expand by $18.6 million.
There are opportunities for more expanded trade over time between Canada and Ukraine, as like-minded allies, countries with shared values, and a great deal of shared experience.
The economic benefits that come from this will be significant as well. Estimates are that Canada's exports to Ukraine would increase by $41.2 million. Canada's export gains would be broad-based, with exports of pork, machinery and equipment, transport equipment, other manufactured products, cars and parts, and chemical products being some of the key sectors affected.
There are also major potential benefits in the area of agriculture. We see those benefits, in particular, for western Canada. Our current exports from western Canada to Ukraine averaged close to $80 million between 2011 and 2013, and we certainly have every reason to believe that we are going to see some increases there as well.
Let us be clear. We know that trade produces economic benefits. We have seen the benefits across the trade deals Canada has signed throughout its history, usually signed under Conservative governments, or at least in this case, with the process started under Conservative governments.
We saw in the early debates we had on free trade with the United States many naysayers. Many people said it would be the end of our sovereignty, but look at the incredible economic benefits that have flowed from free trade with the United States.
This is another trade deal that complements so many trade deals that were signed, finalized, or at least initiated under the previous government. We just voted on a bill on the Canada-EU free trade agreement. We are seeing the moving forward of trade deals that were undertaken under the previous government.
I hope we will also see from the new government some new initiatives around trade deals, the proactive negotiation of new trade deals, as well as the continuing of trade deals that were begun under the previous government. Especially in the kind of climate we are seeing internationally, and with the debates we are having around trade, it is important that we have a government that believes in the open economy and stands up for it.
With that in mind, I am pleased to be supporting this trade deal, and I look forward to continuing to encourage the government to do more to promote our positive relationship with Ukraine.
Ms. Tracey Ramsey:
Mr. Speaker, I withdraw my comment as well.
As I was saying, it is the idea that a rising tide will lift all boats, but in fact the opposite is true. Unfortunately with trade agreements, history has shown us that the benefits of trade are not evenly distributed among all participants in the economy.
While corporate profits are soaring, wage growth in Canada since the 1970s has been stagnant. Household debt persists at record high levels while our younger generation struggles to find meaningful employment in an economy that no longer provides the stability and prosperity associated with full-time jobs that include benefits and pensions.
Looking at NAFTA, while it led to job creation in some sectors, it also devastated our manufacturing and textile sector. Let us not try to paint over that fact. Furthermore, having labour and environment in side agreements in NAFTA did not raise the standards in Mexico to the same standards as here in Canada. Again, I am pleased to see that the Canada-Ukraine agreement, which we are debating today, does not treat labour and environment with the same disregard as NAFTA did.
When we look at Ukraine, we see that the country has made a lot of progress since 2014 when it was in the grips of a civil war that killed over 9,000 Ukrainians and displaced around 1.5 million people. However, just this past week, we read about conflict breaking out again in eastern Ukraine. Thirty-five people were killed after what has been described in the media as extensive and indiscriminate shelling. There is a war going on, and it is destroying families and communities. Children have lost their parents.
I spoke earlier about how a country's human rights record is not a static thing. It changes over time. We know that in Ukraine there is still a lot of uncertainty and continued conflict. The fact is Ukraine is still at an early stage in its transition to a market economy. It has a history of political instability. It has a weak constitutional framework. It is viewed as having a weak business environment for these and many other reasons.
Canada is currently looking at whether to add Ukraine to our Automatic Firearms Country Control List. There were consultations over a year and a half ago, but the government has been mum on whether Ukraine will be added to the list or not. If it is added to the list, Canadian companies could be allowed to export certain prohibited firearms and weapons to Ukraine. Given the ongoing civil war in eastern Ukraine, I would be very concerned about Canadian weapons ending up in the wrong hands.
It is not just about today, but about tomorrow, and 10 and 20 years from now. We are hopeful that peace and stability will prevail. In the meantime, a very practical way that Canada can know with greater certainty that increased exports of Canadian goods would not negatively impact Ukraine's human rights is by requiring an annual independent review of the impact of CUFTA on human rights in both our countries. As a member of the Standing Committee on International Trade, I proposed this as a possible amendment to this legislation. My colleagues felt the inclusion of such a review would be seen as “an unnecessary criticism of Ukraine”.
As I said at committee, I think when we have relationships with other countries, there are sometimes difficult things that have to be addressed, and this is one of them. Human Rights Watch has noted concerns over steps by the Ukraine government to restrict freedom of information and the freedom of the media. Free trade agreements should not be a reason not to talk about differences or broach difficult subjects respectfully. In fact, as a Canadian citizen, I would expect that my government would be having these conversations as part of trade negotiations. These were the concerns I attempted to lay out before the committee.
I also attempted to have the committee hit a pause button for a moment on Bill C-31 so that we could hear from some witnesses on this legislation. Unfortunately, the committee chose not to study the bill or hear from any witnesses beyond department officials. Without commenting on the merits of this legislation, I would like to note my deep concern with this approach.
As parliamentarians and as committee members, it is our job to study the legislation that comes before us and not just rubber-stamp it. Even if witnesses support the agreement, it is incredibly helpful to hear their testimony and to have an opportunity to ask questions and learn about the issues.
For example, when the committee studied CETA, albeit briefly, even stakeholder groups that supported the agreement talked about concerns with how the agreement would be implemented and how Canadian businesses needed support with accessing potential new markets. They made recommendations that they wanted us to carry forward to the government.
I would urge my colleagues on all sides of the House to not be afraid of asking questions and listening to Canadians, even on topics where we assume there will be overwhelming agreement.
In the Prime Minister's latest mandate letter to the Minister of International Trade, he said:
|| If we are to tackle the real challenges we face as a country - from a struggling middle class to the threat of climate change - Canadians need to have faith in their government's honesty and willingness to listen.
I would like to take a little more time to discuss some of the feedback our committee has received over the past year on how specifically the government can better help Canadian businesses access international markets. There are important points that are relevant to our consideration of the Canada-Ukraine free trade agreement.
From the perspective of Canadian small and medium-size businesses, the signing of a new agreement is just the beginning. Having a new agreement will not magically translate into increased trade flows. Supporting markets is a big challenge. I am pleased to see this is part of the new minister's mandate letter.
Specifically, he is instructed to develop and implement a new trade and investment strategy to support Canadian businesses exporting to international markets and help Canadian jurisdictions attract global investment. In particular, I would like to see the minister's efforts really focus on supporting Canadian SMEs, not just the large companies which have more means to pursue new markets. Around 90% of Canadian SMEs do not export their goods or services. This would include micro businesses as well.
In my riding of Essex, a lot of businesses cannot even connect yet to high speed Internet. It is difficult to think of how they will connect to potential new markets in Asia, Europe, including Ukraine, if they do not even have a quality Internet connection.
We have talked a lot at the trade committee about the important role of Global Affairs Canada and what it must play in terms of engaging Canadian businesses, listening to what the non-tariff barriers are and working in close collaboration to address these issues.
I am pleased that the Canada-Ukraine Chamber of Commerce has been actively working to connect Ukrainian and Canadian businesses. There is also a role for the Canadian Trade Commissioner Service to play, and of course Export Development Canada.
I want to hear a lot more from the government on what its trade and investment strategy will include. I think too often these conversations are brushed to the side. They come as more of an afterthought after the agreement is signed.
I would also like to speak to a few more specific areas covered by the Canada-Ukraine free trade agreement.
At second reading and at committee, I raised the issue of steel. As we know, the issue of steel dumping is one of great concern for us in Canada. It impacts my riding of Essex, as well as Hamilton, Sault Ste. Marie, Regina, and many other Canadian communities. Therefore, when I saw that CUFTA would reduce tariffs on the trade of steel between our two countries, I wondered how this might impact the global steel trade and the challenges of overcapacity and dumping. It is something on which to keep an eye.
In the meantime, I would like to once again urge the government to take action on improving and strengthening Canada's trade remedy system. Canada needs to do a better job of protecting our steel industry. That means enforcing the rules and doing a better job when other countries like China are breaking the rules. Standing up for Canada's steel industry is about standing up for Canadian jobs.
The trade committee has committed to a brief study of dumping. I hope we can make room for this soon. It will be important to hear from Canadian producers and workers on how the broken trade remedy system is hurting our industry. The finance committee has already done a study of the trade remedy system, so the solutions are there. Now it is time for action.
By and large, Canada's steel sector will not stand to lose in CUFTA. In fact there are not really any losing sectors in this agreement, which is rare.
In CETA, Canada made some big concessions around pharmaceutical, intellectual property rights, and around dairy and our maritime industry. These concessions will mean a higher cost of medicine for Canadians, and they will mean our dairy sector will lose millions and our maritime sector will lose thousands of jobs.
I was surprised that Canada did not take a second look at what we gave up in CETA after the U.K. voted to leave the EU. After all, the U.K. makes up about half of Canada's market in the EU.
In TPP, Canada would be forced to make many of the same concessions. We also know TPP would hurt our auto sector. In fact, TPP is estimated to cost Canada 58,000 jobs.
Both CETA and TPP include harmful investor-state provisions that erode Canada's sovereignty. These provisions make it harder for Canada to enact and enforce environmental rules, and they can also make it harder for Canada to introduce a national pharmacare plan. Even in the TPP, a special carve out was required to allow countries to preserve their ability to regulate cigarette packaging.
The problem with mega deals like TPP and CETA is that they ask countries to make a lot of concessions in areas that extend far beyond the traditional realms of trade. For example, the TPP includes a clause barring every other TPP member state from ever adopting Canada's notice and notice system for copyright rules. Our system is widely considered to strike a fair balance that respects the rights of users to share and collaborate, while ensuring that artists are fairly compensated for their work.
Perhaps the case could be made that trade-offs required by multilateral deals are worth it, if a government is willing to take proper steps to mitigate the negative effects. These trade deals can increase inequality if proper action isn't taken to make sure they do not. In this regard, bilateral trade deals tend to require countries to make far fewer concessions. They are easier to negotiate, and they are easier to ratify and implement. This is the kind of trade that the New Democrats tend to support, trade that reduces tariffs and boosts exports.
I would also point out that CUFTA is the second trade agreement the New Democrats have supported in this parliamentary session. We also supported the trade facilitation agreement.
My colleagues in the Liberal and Conservative Parties like to spread misinformation that the NDP is somehow anti-trade because we point out the flaws in the agreements, like NAFTA and the TPP.
We do not think a trade and investment agreement is appropriate with countries that have deeply concerning records on human rights. We want to see Canada do business with good partners of strategic importance. We want to see trade deals that do not harm the interests of everyday Canadians.
I would challenge my colleagues to participate in these debates about the merits of trade and investment deals on a case-by-case basis, instead of relying on blanket statements that all trade and investment is good therefore no study or critical analysis of an agreement is needed.
On the question before us today, I have studied the Canada-Ukraine free trade agreement closely. Like other trade agreements the New Democrats have supported, on balance this agreement does serve Canada's interests.
I would like to extend my appreciation to Mr. Marvin Hildebrand, chief negotiator of CUFTA, and his team for their hard work on this file. I do not doubt that our trade negotiators always have Canada's best interests in mind.
I am pleased that all parties in the House have extended their unanimous support for Bill C-31. Let us not forget that it is time to ensure that this and every trade deal works for Canadians and creates market access and benefits for Canadians that we expect.
Mr. Borys Wrzesnewskyj (Etobicoke Centre, Lib.):
Mr. Speaker, as we begin our debate here this evening, I note that tomorrow morning the Canada–Ukraine free trade agreement will be debated in the Verkhovna Rada, Ukraine's parliament. I issue a challenge to Speaker Parubiy, Ukraine's parliament and our colleagues to see which Parliament will pass this free trade agreement first.
This past July, as the chair of the Canada–Ukraine Parliamentary Friendship Group and as a Ukrainian Canadian, I had the honour of bearing witness to the historic signing of the Canada–Ukraine free trade agreement in the presidential ceremonial hall in Kiev. I would like to thank our Prime Minister for including me in the delegation and, more important, for making the state visit and signing a priority for our new government. In fact, it was the Prime Minister's first one-on-one state visit of his term after his visit to the United States. This will most likely be the first free trade agreement to be ratified by our government.
Watching my fellow Ukrainian Canadian, the former minister of international trade, sign the treaty was especially poignant, as we had first met in Kiev in 1992 as young and idealistic Canadians who were intent on making a difference in the ancestral homeland of our parents and grandparents, the minister as a journalist, and I a Canadian organizer of Rukh, Ukraine's democratic front. Twenty-five years later, the minister worked hard to make this free trade agreement a reality, Twenty-five years later, we accompanied Canada's Prime Minister for the signing of this historic agreement.
Why would the Canada–Ukraine free trade agreement be a priority for our country? Our bilateral trade has been a modest $289 million on average for the past five years. Why was CUFTA's implementation specifically referred to in the previous international trade minister's mandate letter? Why would this free trade agreement be the sole such agreement to have the unanimous support of the current House? It is because not every free trade agreement is just about trade. It must be seen through various lenses, one of which is Canada's special relationship with Ukraine.
Internationally and in the House, everyone is aware of Canada and Ukraine's special relationship. However, the word “special” is not just an adjective but a term defined in an agreement in 1994, the joint declaration on the “special partnership” between Canada and Ukraine, an agreement which was reaffirmed in 2001 and again in 2008. As well, Ukraine is one of 25 countries of focus for the Canadian International Development Agency, CIDA.
Although Canadians and our symbol of the maple leaf are warmly received in almost every country of the planet, there is no country where Canadians are more warmly, in fact affectionately, welcomed than in Ukraine.
Many of us literally stood shoulder to shoulder with the people of Ukraine during the independence movement of 1988 tolasnost 1991, in the democratic revolutions, in the Orange Revolution of 2004, and in the revolution of dignity of 2014. I cannot relate to the House and the Canadian people how often during these historic events, Ukrainians, upon hearing that I was from Canada, would embrace me and say, “Thank you, Canada. Please say thank you to the people of Canada from us”.
For the past 25 years, tens of thousands of Ukrainian Canadians, as well as many of their Canadian friends, have directly engaged in building democracy in Ukraine. In many ways, my personal story of engagement in Ukraine's difficult journey toward freedom began in earnest in the summer of 1991, on the centenary of Ukrainian immigration to Canada. A group of youthful Ukrainian Canadians travelled into Ukraine's eastern Donbass region, the front line of the current Russo-Ukrainian war. It was the time of Mikhail Gorbachev's glasnost, when the Iron Curtain had been slightly drawn, allowing in the winds of change. For most in the Soviet Union, especially in the regions, it was like the wind rustling leaves at the tops of trees. We could hear it in the distance, but we could not feel it down on the ground.
Our group of Ukrainian Canadians decided to head into a region that had been among the most devastated by Soviet rule: the epicentre of the Holodomor, the genocide by famine of the Ukrainian people, a region whose churches had mostly been dynamited generations ago under Stalin's decrees; a region in which history, the past, had been destroyed and in whose libraries and schools history began with the 1917 Bolshevik revolution; a coal mining and heavily industrialized region that was also among the Soviet Union's most ecologically devastated. It was here, to a region formerly closed to westerners, that we brought Ukrainian- and Russian-language copies of Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms and pamphlets describing our multicultural nation.
It was also in this region that we had a glimpse into the future. It was here that in various towns, during the span of a week, I was taken in for so-called conversations by communist party first secretaries, the local KGB, and police. At times, conversations were theoretical, sometimes quite threatening. Others were almost pleasant.
I recollect one particular incident when the police came. We had set up our little table with copies of Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and the police came and took me to meet with the communist first party secretary in his office. As I sat there, he was intent on showing me a model of a Lenin monument he was going to build in his town of Milove, near the Russian border, today near the front of the Russo-Ukraine war.
As I listened to him, I saw out his window that a fire truck, which looked like it was built in the fifties, had pulled up. It had a nozzle, almost like a tank turret, that it pointed at our Ukrainian Canadians standing at the little table with their Canadian flag and copies of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. As I was watching out of the corner of my eye, I asked the first party secretary if it would not be better to be spending resources not on this grand monument to Lenin. I said that it may well be that in the next few years, that monument may be taken down. I said that no matter how they might laud him in Moscow, would it not be better to spend those resources on local schools or to fix the potholed streets of his town?
In all of these conversations with officials, I noticed that there was a plan formulating. They spoke of how Ukraine was not really a country and that if Ukraine were to become independent, it would split up into regions. In fact, the same map was produced in different towns showing a small, truncated Ukraine, a Novorossiya, New Russia, a republic that encompassed all of Ukraine's south and east.
Later, in Luhansk, the capital of the current so-called Luhansk People's Republic, I met Don Cossacks, who had come from Russia's Rostov-on-Don, who, after selling me a Cossack hat for $10, confided to me that they were actually soldiers sent in from a Russian military unit in friendship.
As I have previously stated, my experiences are just examples of the thousands of such personal experiences of Ukrainian Canadians in Ukraine. However, the ties between Ukraine and Canada run much deeper than the personal contributions of Ukrainian Canadians over the past 25 years. Ukraine has given Canada its most precious of gifts: its people. There are 1.3 million Canadians who can trace their ancestral roots to Ukraine.
Next year marks Canada's 150th anniversary. Last year Ukrainians marked the 125th anniversary of the arrival of the first Ukrainian pioneers in Canada's Prairies. These pioneers transformed the bush of the Prairies into the golden wheat fields of Manitoba, Alberta, and Saskatchewan. As one travels the vastness of the Prairies, the golden paysage is regularly broken by grain elevators and the domes of Ukrainian churches. There is not a city in Canada where golden church domes do not testify to the presence of Ukrainian Canadians. They testify to the perseverance, industry, and spirituality of Ukrainian Canadians.
The ribbons of steel of the Canadian Pacific Railway bound our vast Confederation together. It was largely Ukrainian Canadians who filled that prairie vastness. Their presence countered the movement of American settlers north who, as had their southern brethren in Texas, California, and other states previously, were opposing sovereignty threats to their northern neighbour.
Canada may well have had a very different geography if not for the government's policy at the time of free land to the people in sheepskin coats. However, Ukrainian Canadians did not only transform our landscape, they gave us a deeper understanding of who we are as a nation.
The term “multiculturalism” was first used by Senator Paul Yuzyk in his maiden Senate speech in 1963. The Ukrainian Canadian committee, as the congress was called at that time, lobbied the federal government through the 1960s on this issue, a government at the time whose official policy was biculturalism. It was due to these determined efforts that former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau officially announced the federal policy of multiculturalism in 1971, thus transforming our understanding of Canada and who we are as a people.
Today, in a world of resurgent xenophobia and nativism, Canada stands as an aspirational city on the hill amongst liberal democracies. Our multiculturalism, our strength in diversity, is a shining example to a world of darkening chauvinism and increasing divisions.
Ukrainian Canadians' contributions to Canada both in numbers and in length of time qualify us as one of this country's founding peoples. It is why, when Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov referred to us as a “rabid diaspora” in January of last year while ranting against Canada's steadfast policy of standing with Ukraine, his denunciation was responded to by Canada's foreign minister's statement of January 27 last year in this House. Minister Dion stated:
|| I am so pleased...to express...the steadfast support of Canada for Ukraine, how much we deeply disagree with the invasion and interference of the Russian government in Ukraine, and also how much we will not tolerate from a Russian minister any insults against the community of Ukraine in Canada.
|| We owe so much to Ukrainian Canadians and we will always support them.
It must also be seen through a geopolitical lens in a world in which Ukraine has been the victim of military invasion and annexation of her territory by a Russia that does not subscribe to international treaties on the sanctity of borders, a violation of accords that have largely brought a grand peace to Europe since World War II.
It must be understood in the context of the 2014 Ukrainian revolution of dignity, a modern revolution by a people of 45 million in support of liberal democratic values and in support of their dream to be part of a multilateral European union of states with enshrined universal human and democratic rights.
Today, Russia poses the greatest geopolitical threat to liberal democracy in the west. Ukraine and her people are literally on the front line. When Putin ordered his armies to militarily invade and annex Ukrainian territory, he broke a fundamental principle of international rule of law, the sanctity of borders. We have not seen European borders changed through military force since the 1930s. Ten thousand Ukrainian soldiers, mostly volunteers, and civilians have been killed by invading Russian soldiers and their proxies. Two million Ukrainians are currently internally displaced. In annexed Crimea, Muslim Tatar leaders continue to disappear.
Why did Putin invade? It was because the people of Ukraine chose liberty and democracy. Ukraine's revolution of dignity was a revolt against a new enslavement by the kleptocratic President Yanukovych, puppet of a dictatorial Kremlin. It was the first time in the history of the European Union that people, including student demonstrators, were shot by snipers, killed while carrying the European Union flag, a symbol of the western democratic values that we cherish.
These protestors were not only a threat to the puppet President Yanukovych and Putin's revanchist imperial vision; as the Russian President watched Kiev's Maidan with hundreds of thousands of citizens building barricades, he envisioned the contagion of the revolution of dignity spreading and infecting Russians.
Since 2000, Putin has methodically dismantled Russia's nascent democracy and created a new Russian dictatorship. At least 132 investigative journalists have been silenced in Russia through murder, as well as opposition leaders such as Boris Nemtsov, symbolically assassinated outside the Kremlin walls, and FSB defectors like British citizen Litvinenko, who was gruesomely poisoned by radioactive polonium in London, England.
Glorious patriotic wars started in Chechnya in 2000, Georgia in 2005, and Ukraine in 2014. However, Russia's war against Ukraine is not only imperial revanchism; it is to create a terrifying example of Ukraine for Putin's own Russian people, as a dismembered, failed democratic state.
The Kremlin has not only declared war militarily against Ukraine, and there is not only an ongoing propaganda war, but there is a Kremlin economic war against Ukraine. Russia had been Ukraine's largest trading partner, equivalent in importance to Canada's economic relationship with the United States. At the same time that Russia invaded militarily, Putin shut down trade with Ukraine. That is why the Canada-Ukraine free trade agreement is of such importance. It is a clear statement of support by Canada for Ukraine at a time of Kremlin military aggression and economic war. It is not just a reaffirmation of our government's policy in regard to free trade; it is a geopolitical statement of support.
Having earlier noted the current modest levels of trade, we should not dismiss the opportunities that CUFTA would afford to the business communities of both countries, especially for small and medium-size businesses. Ukraine, with its free trade association with the EU, can be the entry point for Canadian low-cost capital investment and low manufacturing costs on the European continent, a de facto gateway into the European market. Canada can become a gateway for nascent small and medium-size Ukrainian businesses to expand and invest in Canada as an entry point into the North American market.
CUFTA is but one effective tool in a policy kit to strengthen democracy in Ukraine and to contain Putin's plan to create a democratic failed state of Ukraine. We must renew and broaden Operation Unifier, our military training mission in Ukraine. However, while standing with Ukraine, we must also strengthen our resolve to stand shoulder to shoulder with Russia's embattled, yet courageous, democratic opposition.
This past week, I received the terrible news that my friend Vladimir Kara-Murza had been hospitalized in Russia due to acute intoxication by an unknown substance—poisoning. My prayers are with Vladimir and my thoughts with his wife, Yevgeniya, and their three children.
Vladimir had testified before the foreign affairs committee in Ottawa this past spring, stating that Canadian Magnitsky sanctions for gross human rights abusers would be a pro-Russian measure. He was joined on the panel of witnesses by Zhanna Nemtsova, the daughter of the late Boris Nemtsov, also an acquaintance of mine, who had come to Canada's Parliament in 2012 in support of Magnitsky legislation and was assassinated two years ago, on February 27, and by Bill Browder, whose lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky, had been tortured and killed in a Russian prison for uncovering, documenting, and reporting massive fraud against the Russian people by individuals sanctioned by President Putin.
We must join our American legislative colleagues in sanctioning gross human rights abusers by expanding our Special Economic Measures Act to build upon the U.S. Jackson-Vanik repeal and Sergei Magnitsky rule of law accountability act of 2012.
I conclude by thanking Canada on behalf of all Ukrainian Canadians. This has been freedom's shore and the land of opportunity for waves of Ukrainian immigrants for over 125 years. This is the land in which our ancestors, with their perseverance and industry, built new lives and, in building their lives, helped to build and transform our great country, Canada.
They built a future in their new homeland. However, they never forgot their ancestral roots, who they were and where they came from. The Canada-Ukraine free trade agreement is a hand of friendship and solidarity by Canada to a country, Ukraine, which gave its most precious resource, its human resources, its people, to us. Long may our special relationship endure.
Slava Canadi. Slava Ukraini.
Mr. James Bezan (Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman, CPC):
Madam Speaker, it is indeed a pleasure to be able to rise to speak on the Canada-Ukraine free trade agreement, Bill C-31, at third reading. Again, I would like to thank the government for getting this over the finish line. I want to, of course, take credit for it with our own Conservative government, the previous government, that started these negotiations and the member for Abbotsford and the member for Battlefords—Lloydminster who worked so hard in getting this done when they were in cabinet. It really does speak to how, on an all-party basis, we feel that this is an important trade agreement that benefits Canada and Ukraine. It is also about Canada demonstrating to the people of Ukraine that we stand with them during these very destabilizing times, with the fighting that we are seeing in Donbass, with the ongoing Russian proxies and the Russian military coming across the line into Donbass and continuing to escalate the violence. Of course we always have to remember the illegal invasion and occupation and annexation of Crimea and demand that the Russian Federation return that property, return that land back to Ukraine. No one in Canada and no one in the international community should ever recognize Crimea as anything but sovereign Ukrainian territory.
On the issue of Canada-Ukraine free trade, I think many Canadians often ask, “Where are the economic benefits? Where is the spinoff?” It has only averaged around $290 million a year in bilateral trade between Canada and Ukraine, but we know that Ukraine itself has great opportunities to grow and prosper. We know that the people are very industrious, that they are now a hub of high-tech expertise. As they start to recover from the sanctions that they face from Russia, from the ongoing revenues that are required to protect Ukrainian territory and fund its national defence efforts, there will be a growth in GDP. As they start to adjust and come out from underneath the damage that was done to the economy and the corruption that was created by President Yanukovych and his regime, we know that there is greater opportunity for Canadian business, as well as greater opportunity for Ukrainians to do business with us in Canada.
All the numbers suggest that we will see an increase in GDP in Ukraine as well as in Canada but, ultimately, we are trying to ensure that all those who are over there right now in Ukraine who are fighting for their freedom, fighting for their sovereignty, will someday enjoy that peace and the prosperity that comes with it. The only way we can give them the hope of seeing their livelihoods and their fortunes improve is that we have to also be with them from an economic standpoint.
There is no question that both the Liberal government and the previous Conservative government have helped with humanitarian efforts. We have helped with providing non-lethal kinetic equipment to its military. We have helped with reformation and getting corruption out of the Ukrainian government. We do know that type of assistance is welcomed but, ultimately, people of Ukraine are demanding that their government continue on with those reformations. They are demanding the corruption end and that they can actually enjoy the fruits of their labour without being shaken down on the street when they are taking their kids to school, by someone from the police or someone from the Russian mafia or anything along that line.
I just want to quickly highlight that there are some great opportunities. There are already Canadian companies that have done some amazing business in Ukraine. A lot of people do not realize but if they go shopping on Canadian Tire online, its entire online system is provided by a company out of Lviv called EPAM. It is a high-tech organization. It is there to help with any outsourcing that any company wants in managing their online and web services, from shopping to website management. It is there to assist and it does great work.
Bombardier is already in Ukraine, doing work and providing more in the areas of engineering and research and development in Kharkiv.
And then, right out of Winnipeg, Ag Growth International is providing grain-handling equipment. It is joint-venture farming in the Ukraine and would really like to see that expand. It really sees a future.
Many of us have agricultural backgrounds. The member for Battlefords—Lloydminster and I have been farmers. Whenever we go to Ukraine, the agricultural expanse is just amazing. It is the breadbasket of Europe and it is becoming a greater and greater exporter. That is one of the main resources Ukraine has and can capitalize on. Anything we can do from a Canadian standpoint to do more business in the agriculture sector there and to help with grain handling, with testing, with getting it to market is something we can really capitalize on and it would be very beneficial to both Ukraine and Canada.
Pratt & Whitney has just started a joint venture project with Antonov to refurbish aircraft and supply engines to Saudi Arabia and other countries.
Often Ukraine is referred to as a modern Silicon Valley because of the high tech sector, how it is developing, the education system and the way it has been set up. It has a number of hubs that have been situated around the country. They are attracting the right talent and the right environment is being created. There are things we can do in the high tech industry there, and it is already worth over $5 billion U.S. There is this great opportunity for Canada to partner with with Ukraine, capitalize on that as well and make our country more prosperous along with it.
One thing about having more trade is that it creates a new need, and that is the free flow of people. I tabled a petition in the House a while ago, with over 2,400 signatures on it from across Canada, demanding that a new visa regime was brought in so people could visit Canada from Ukraine a lot easier. We get to go over there visa-free for six months. They are asking for a reciprocal agreement with Canada so their youth, their students, their business people and those who are trying to reconnect with family can more easily come to Canada. As trade and their economic prosperity improve, there will be an increasing demand for us to change the visa regime. I encourage the government to look at the visa situation.
What we are looking at today is the escalation in fighting in Donbass, where there are Russian proxies, Russian military equipment and Russian soldiers who are so-called on leave and who are fighting in Donbass. That has definitely increased.
We know that President Putin loves to test the strength of world leaders. There is a new president of the United States. Even though there has been a lot of platitudes and diplomatic niceties exchanged between both President Trump and President Putin, we see Putin, behind his back, escalate the aggression in Donbass to see what type of response he will get from President Trump. He wants to see whether Trump is a man of his word, that he will stand by his rhetoric. He wants to see if he can determine whether he has the strength or weakness to deal with the international obligations that surround the violence in Donbass, and if he will stand with President Poroshenko and the people of Ukraine in pushing Russia out of Donbass.
There is a situation where Ukraine still needs defensive military equipment. I believe the government needs to look at everything, from defensive weapons to more non-kinetic military equipment, as well as supplying Ukraine again with RADARSAT images that Canada had been providing until June last year, something that Prime Minister Harper had committed to, and allow the Ukrainian government, the Ukrainian military, to see what type of excursions were taking place by Russian forces across into Ukraine, and also where the military units in Donbass, operated by the rebels, the Russian proxies, were stationed so they could adjust their military defensive lines in the appropriate fashion.
It is time to reinstate those RADARSAT images, to share those images with the military of Ukraine.
It is also time for the government to finally sign the defence and security co-operation agreement that the Conservative government under Stephen Harper had negotiated. All it needs is to be inked out, to ensure that we can have the ongoing military co-operation that we already see with Operation Unifier, which runs out at the end of March. I am hoping that the Minister of National Defence and the Minister of Foreign Affairs will renew that mission for more training and more co-operation.
Training is beyond just training soldiers. We are also training its military police, its logistical officers, and its medics so they can deal with traumatic injuries in the field, something that we have a great deal of experience with, coming back from Afghanistan and including what is happening today in Iraq.
Sharing that wealth of knowledge through Operation Unifier is one thing that I hope, and I demand, the government renews and extends for at least another two years; but the security co-operation agreement would help with the exchange of soldiers and military officers coming to Canada. It would help with the ongoing movement of military equipment between our two countries because it would be on a most favoured nation list then and be able to acquire Canadian military equipment. It is important that the agreement be signed and finalized, and now is the time to do it.
We are going to get the trade deal done. We are at third reading now, and the bill is going to go to the Senate where I expect it to be finalized in short order.
Ukraine needs our help today with the military fight that is taking place in Donbass, with the invasion, and with the escalation of violence coming from Russia and its proxies in Donbass.
President Poroshenko, when he was here, both talked about the extension of Operation Unifier, asking the Government of Canada to do that, and addressed the need to make sure that we get the security and defence co-operation agreement signed, get the radar satellite images reimplemented, and continue on with our co-operative training and assistance, which we have been doing with more than 200 soldiers. We pay tribute to all of those soldiers who are over there.
I hope that our Prime Minister is listening. I hope that the government will come to the aid of Ukraine again and stand with President Poroshenko and the Government of Ukraine. More importantly, this is about standing with the people of Ukraine who have to deal with this situation. They see Canada as their closest friend and ally. They appreciate all the help we have provided, the way we have been able to work through Operation Unifier, and the way we have worked with our NATO allies through NATO's Operation Reassurance. The people of Ukraine really appreciated our bringing our frigates into the Black Sea. They appreciate our going in there with the NATO maritime task force and doing co-operative training and exercises with the Ukrainian navy.
The former minister of foreign affairs liked to talk about having a normalized relationship with Russia. He also talked about how he wanted to appease President Putin by talking to him about what was happening in Ukraine. I have great hope that the new Minister of Foreign Affairs, who was the minister of trade and helped to get this final agreement to the House as a legislative bill, will continue on with her love of Ukraine and not appease Vladimir Putin and the Kremlin. She has a lot of experience in Moscow, having worked there as a journalist, and she has written extensively about the corruption in Russia and how it continues to try to exercise its sphere of influence over Ukraine. I would hope that, despite her predecessor taking a rather soft stance with Ukraine and trying to appease Russia, she will have the intestinal fortitude to stick to her beliefs, as someone like me who is proud of our Ukrainian heritage, and will continue to fight for the people of Ukraine.
It will be interesting. Like me and a few others in this House, she has been banned from Russia. When she needs to meet with Foreign Minister Lavrov in Moscow, they will probably have to find a different rendezvous place. Perhaps Kiev would be a good place for them to have their discussions.
One of the things that I congratulate the government on is that it has continued with our line of sanctions against those in Russia and Ukraine who are responsible for the violence in Donbass, as well as the illegal activities taking place in Crimea. We have to make sure that we not only continue to hold those sanctions in place until Russia returns Crimea to Ukraine but we also have to continue to expand them. One of the ways we can do that is through the Magnitsky Act, which is one of the things that we have looked at, and I know the foreign affairs committee is studying it.
As members know, I tabled a bill in this House to have the Magnitsky Act become law. A similar bill was tabled in the other place by Senator Raynell Andreychuk. The bill in the Senate has passed committee stage. It is going back for report stage and then third reading. It is my hope that we will see it over here in the next few weeks so that we can have that debate in the House and give the Government of Canada the tools, through the Special Economic Measures Act, as well as the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, to impose travel bans and take action on economic sanctions against not only those corrupt foreign officials who are responsible for what we see happening in Ukraine and in Russia today but also against other individuals globally who are abusing their authority and power within their own governments against their own people. This could apply to corrupt dictators in North Korea or China. We could also be looking at individuals who may be committing human rights abuses in Venezuela, Indonesia, and even Cuba. There is an opportunity to use this on a larger scale.
The way the Special Economic Measures Act works right now is that Canada will not move against individuals unilaterally. We always work through multilateral organizations. If the UN or the OSCE pass a resolution, or NATO provides an article stating that we need to go after certain countries and individuals within those countries for human rights abuses, for corruption, or for military incursions that happen from time to time, then we can take action. However, the way our legislation is set out today, we are prevented to unilaterally act on our own, under our own authority, when we think it is right. That is why the Magnitsky law is so important, not only to go after Russians, which originally was the case in the law that was passed in the United States a few years ago, but, at the urging of Bill Browder, to remember Sergei Magnitsky for the fight he had with the Russian government in standing up against corruption and human rights abuses. Unfortunately, Sergei Magnitsky was murdered after being arrested, tortured, and detained in prison. Just this past December, the U.S. passed a new global Magnitsky Act, similar to what I am trying to do with my bill and what Senator Raynell Andreychuk is doing with hers, which is to provide that global scope in the memory of Sergei Magnitsky for fighting for that freedom.
In conclusion, I am looking forward to seeing this bill become law. I hope that it goes through the Senate in an expedited fashion, and that ultimately we will see a strong relationship on the trade front grow and expand because of the Canada-Ukraine free trade agreement. I know that the people of Ukraine are the ones who would benefit the most and would see their economy improve. I subscribe to the saying that a rising tide lifts all ships, and this is about raising the waters right now.