Interventions in the House of Commons
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View Chrystia Freeland Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to inform the member opposite that this morning I spent 45 minutes on the phone with Wilbur Ross, the U.S. Secretary of Commerce, talking about the softwood lumber issue. We are very closely engaged with the U.S.
I also want to say, not only to the member opposite but to all Canadians, that while we are actively engaged in negotiations, we are also concerned about supporting our industry, and in the interim we will not let the threat of countervailing duties weaken our negotiating position.
We want a good deal, not just any deal.
View Chrystia Freeland Profile
Lib. (ON)
moved for leave to introduce Bill C-47, An Act to amend the Export and Import Permits Act and the Criminal Code (amendments permitting the accession to the Arms Trade Treaty and other amendments).
View Chrystia Freeland Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, I would like to remind the member that it was the Conservatives who did not sanction Mr. Yakunin in 2014 and 2015.
Now Mr. Yakunin is no longer in power, just like the Conservatives. This is an important reality. As for our position vis-à-vis Russia, I think all members in this House would agree with me when I say that our government’s opposition, as well as my own as Minister of Foreign Affairs, remain very strong.
View Chrystia Freeland Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, let me remind my hon. colleague of what the leader of his party said when Stéphane left the House. She described him as a Canadian who understood the issues in minute detail and was prepared to vigorously defend his positions.
As for the orders in council, it was a procedural step, and each appointee will receive two orders in council.
The Prime Minister and I heard in Europe a couple of weeks ago of the highest respect for Mr. Dion. We are honoured to have him represent us.
View Chrystia Freeland Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, speaking on behalf of our diplomats and our fine ambassadors, to be an ambassador serving Canada around the world is no consolation prize. It is one of the highest honours that we can confer on a Canadian.
View Chrystia Freeland Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Chair, I want to thank this House for the opportunity to lead this important debate on the extension of Operation Unifier, a critical part of our assistance to support Ukraine sovereignty, security, and stability. I am confident that all hon. members will support Canada's ongoing efforts to support the people of Ukraine and to help them defend their territory.
Earlier this month, the Minister of National Defence and I were pleased to announce the extension of Unifier until March 2019. The extension means that Canada will continue to support the professional development of the Ukrainian armed forces, an institution that is essential for the sustainable stabilization and development of Ukraine.
Canada is deploying approximately 200 Canadian Armed Forces personnel to Ukraine until the end of March 2019. Canadian Armed Forces members will come from all parts of Canada, bringing with them their unique skills and capacities in support of Unifier training programs.
Last summer, together with the Prime Minister, I had the honour of visiting our troops and seeing them in action, in Yavoriv, working with their Ukrainian partners. I was proud and I was impressed. We are privileged to have them represent us in Ukraine. On behalf of this House, on behalf of the government, I would like to say to all of our troops in Ukraine, we thank them very much. Dyakuyu.
Many members in this House know that the people of Ukraine have very close ties with the people of Canada. Diversity is our strength. In fact, our countries have enjoyed a close relationship going back more than 125 years. The first two Ukrainian settlers, and members can imagine how brave they were, arrived in Montreal on board the steamship SS Oregon in 1891. This marked the beginning of many waves of Ukrainian immigration to Canada, waves that would help build some of the most vibrant and caring communities across our country.
Ukrainian immigrants played a particularly important role in settling the Canadian prairies, where I, and many members of this House, grew up. Our Ukrainian-Canadian community played a central role in creating what I considered to be one of Canada's greatest political ideas and accomplishments: multiculturalism. There are now over 1.2 million Canadians of Ukrainian descent.
However, Canada's support for Ukraine goes beyond the strong and long-standing human ties between our countries. We support Ukraine because of our values. We support Ukraine because we support democracy. We support Ukraine because we support the sanctity of borders. We support Ukraine because we support the international rule of law.
Today Canada stands alongside Ukraine in defending its borders and sovereignty against illegal acts of aggression. Canada has led its G7 partners in condemning Russia's illegal annexation of Crimea and the invasion of Crimea. We continue to take action to help the people of Ukraine defend their country and to stabilize and rebuild their economy. Canada has imposed sanctions against Russian and Ukrainian individuals and entities and has announced more than $700 million in assistance to Ukraine and more than $240 million in development assistance.
As Canadians have heard from the Minister of National Defence and from me, the extension of Operation Unifier will support the professional development of the Ukrainian armed forces, who are essential in deterring aggression and creating a safe space for the sustainable social and economic development the people of Ukraine need and deserve.
Last summer I was honoured to sign, in Kiev, in the presence of our Prime Minister and Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko, the Canada-Ukraine Free Trade Agreement. I am delighted and grateful that it was unanimously supported by all members of this House.
These measures, taken with strong cross-party support and with strong support across our country, are working. The Ukrainian economy has overcome the shock of this ongoing conflict and has actually been growing for the past year. Foreign investment, including by such Canadian flagships as Fairfax Financial, is resuming.
Decentralization, supported by our local economic development programs, is putting resources into the hands of grassroots communities, resulting in modernized hospitals and social services. An honest and trusted new police force, with a significant female presence, is on the streets of the country's 32 biggest cities, thanks in part to the great work of committed Canadians, like Montreal's Natalia Shuster, who I was pleased to meet in Ukraine last summer.
Canada's support for Ukraine has only grown stronger in the face of unprecedented challenges to Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity stemming from Russia's illegal invasion and annexation of Crimea in March 2014 and its ongoing support to the separatists in eastern Ukraine.
We were in opposition at the time, but I and my party were pleased to support the government of the day when Canada joined the international community in immediately condemning Russia's occupation of Crimea, and we supported United Nations General Assembly resolution 68-262, which affirmed the General Assembly's commitment to the territorial integrity of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders.
Canada has also imposed sanctions against key officials involved in the annexation. Additional sanctions related specifically to Crimea were subsequently introduced. Most recently, in November 2016, our government imposed sanctions against an additional 15 individuals, including six who were elected to the Russian State Duma from the illegally annexed territory of Crimea.
Let me be very clear: Canada does not and will not recognize Russia's illegal annexation of Crimea.
We have also been clear that we will continue to strongly condemn Russia's continued support for the separatist insurrection in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions in eastern Ukraine. The sharp rise in violence in and around Avdiivka earlier this year reminds us that the civilian population in the conflict zone pays a heavy price. An estimated 20,000 people had to go without electricity, potable water, or heating when temperatures threatened to drop to -20 degrees Celsius. That is why it was possible for Ukrainians to come to Canada.
We will continue to pressure Russia, including through the current sanctions, to fully implement the commitments it made under the Minsk agreements and use its influence on the separatists to meet its obligations.
The ultimate goal of our support is to promote the security, stability, and prosperity of Ukraine.
We will continue to build on the solid foundation that we have established with Ukraine and we will continue to engage in a rich and mutually beneficial partnership based on common values and a commitment to regional and international security.
When I was Minister of International Trade, I had the honour of attending the signing of the Canada-Ukraine Free Trade Agreement. Now, as Minister of Foreign Affairs, I look forward to exploring opportunities to further strengthen our close and mutually beneficial relationship with Ukraine.
One of my favourite Ukrainian poets is Ivan Franko, and one of his great poems is called To the Big Moment. In that poem he writes, “Let every one of you be ready for the great moment”.
This really is Ukraine's great testing moment. I think the people of Ukraine are showing themselves to be ready and I am proud that the people of Canada are showing themselves ready to support the people of Ukraine.
In this House we often disagree. Indeed, one of the reasons we are here is to highlight for Canadians the differences between our parties. However, when it comes to the issue of Ukraine and the issue of the values we are standing for in supporting Ukraine, all of us are united. This is truly not a partisan issue, and I am glad to be here to speak up for Ukraine and for Canada's support for Ukraine.
View Chrystia Freeland Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Chair, I would like to thank the hon. member for Parry Sound—Muskoka for his very strong and long-standing support for Ukraine and for taking a position on this issue in particular which does rise above partisanship. I am pleased to acknowledge that here, and it shows how the House can be a really great and strong place in support not only of Ukrainian democracy but Canadian democracy.
On the issues that the member opposite raised, I would like to join with him in highlighting the very important work that many Canadian members of civil society are doing in supporting the people of Ukraine, particularly on the medical side. We all have people in our constituencies who are providing humanitarian aid and doctors who are working there. I was in touch with one woman in my constituency yesterday who is involved in such an effort, and we should salute those private efforts of Canadians.
Definitely our government is engaged in humanitarian support for the people of Ukraine. As the hon. member mentioned, that includes medical support, but we need to think about what we can do for those displaced people. It really is a crisis. I spoke about Ukraine's economic performance. It is important for us, as we consider what the Ukrainian government is able to do, to appreciate that this is happening against the backdrop of an ongoing hot military conflict and a backdrop of a huge internal displaced persons crisis. That makes what the government has managed to do really all that much more impressive.
To the point the member raises about corruption, like him, I have heard concerns about corruption from many Ukrainians. Perhaps as Ukraine's strongest friends in the international community, we need to support both Ukraine civil society and the Ukrainian government in fighting against that corruption. At the end of the day, important though we all know Operation Unifier to be, I ultimately think Ukraine's sovereignty is going to be secured on the economic battlefield. If Ukraine is able to reform its economy, to reform its political institutions, to end corruption, then Ukraine will be strong enough to remain independent. There is a lot of work that Canada is able to do to help Ukraine in that effort.
View Chrystia Freeland Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Chair, I would like to start by personally acknowledging the long-standing commitment of the member for Edmonton Strathcona to Ukraine and the work she has done over many years in supporting Ukraine, very much in collaboration with and on behalf of her constituents.
The member referred to the Canada-Ukraine Free Trade Agreement. I know that my colleagues in the New Democratic Party are not always wildly enthusiastic about trade agreements, so I was particularly pleased that the NDP supported, together with the rest of the House, the Canada-Ukraine Free Trade Agreement. That says a lot about the cross-party support in this House for Ukraine and a lot about the understanding we all have that supporting Ukraine economically is such a central part of the support we can give that country.
As I said earlier, I share with the member opposite a real admiration for and belief in the power of Ukrainian civil society. That is probably the strongest element of Ukraine right now. It is what Ukraine really has going for it: an active, engaged, often querulous, courageous, unafraid-to-criticize-the-government civil society, particularly with very engaged young people.
Canada's government and Canadian civil society are very closely engaged with Ukrainian civil society. We are already working hard to support them. However, I would agree with the member opposite that this is a group of people we should be working closely with and supporting.
The member opposite referred to the parliamentary internship program. A lot of us have worked with Ukrainian parliamentary interns. It has been a pleasure for me to go to Ukraine and discover how many members of this new democratic government of Ukraine cut their teeth learning about democracy in this House. I certainly join with the member opposite in strongly supporting that effort.
View Chrystia Freeland Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Chair, since I have to be very brief, let me say that I absolutely agree that politics are complex, domestic politics are complex, and international politics are complex, but some issues are black and white.
The invasion of Crimea and its subsequent annexation were illegal. They were clear violations of international law. That is why the world community has been united in opposing them, and that is why our government is proud to oppose them clearly and unambiguously.
View Chrystia Freeland Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to assure the member opposite that I will fight for precisely that. I have had several meetings with labour representatives, with representatives of our auto parts sector, and we are very aligned on fighting for a great deal for Canada. I am confident we can do it, because that is our government's record on trade. We have overturned discriminatory COOL legislation in the United States. We persuaded Mexico and China to end their bans on Canadian beef. We convinced China to lift its embargo on our canola, and exports of Canadian canola have more than doubled since October.
View Chrystia Freeland Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, I would like to start by reminding the member opposite and everyone in the House that NAFTA negotiations have not yet begun and now is not the time for us to prematurely lead our cards on the table.
I want to assure everyone that we will continue to get a great deal for Canadians and our record proves it. Let me share some great news. In January, Canada posted its third straight trade surplus. The drivers of our strong export performance included the car sector where exports were up 7.7%.
View Chrystia Freeland Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, since this is my first response to the Conservatives in a few days, I would like to begin by thanking the members for Thornhill and Parry Sound—Muskoka for comments they made this week.
We do not always agree, but I am proud that Canada has an official opposition that can rise above partisanship to defend our democracy. Thank you very much.
With respect to NAFTA, negotiations are not yet under way, but Canada will be ready if and when they happen.
View Chrystia Freeland Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for her question.
On June 17, 2016, this government tabled the Arms Trade Treaty in the House of Commons, something that the previous Conservative government failed to do. We are delivering on our commitment to Canadians to promote responsibility, transparency, and accountability. It is the right thing to do, and we will soon be making legislative changes.
View Chrystia Freeland Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her question.
We are working hard to ensure that our children will inherit a world free of nuclear weapons. That means making tangible progress. Under our government, for the first time, Canada rallied 177 states to support a United Nations resolution calling for a fissile material cut-off treaty. That is real action, a major step toward a world free of nuclear weapons.
View Chrystia Freeland Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, I would like to quote the leader of the official opposition. In January, she said:
Canadians...want and need passionate people to represent them, people who...understand the issues in minute detail, and vigorously defend their positions.
Speaking of Monsieur Dion, she added, “The member opposite epitomized all that and more”.
I agree. Canadians can be assured that we will be well represented by Monsieur Dion in Berlin and Brussels.
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