In comparison to the last blog post “The Liberals and Ukraine,” let’s examine the record of the Trudeau Government over the last three months.
1. “Who is going to champion Ukrainian issues in the new government is yet to be seen, but the front-runner has to be Chrystia Freeland (University-
- Arguably, Conservative MP James Bezan from Manitoba led the charge to support Ukraine under the previous government, including support for the Canada-Ukraine Free Trade Agreement (CUFTA) that was signed prior to the last election. Chrystia Freeland is Canada’s new Minister of International Trade and therefore she is responsible for implementing this important agreement as per her Ministerial Mandate Letter. Yet, Minister Freeland hasn’t been formally tapped by the Prime Minister to be the advocate for strengthening Canada-Ukraine bilateral relations.
2. “It remains to be seen if the new government can continue to provide as much support to Ukraine as the previous Conservative government.”
- Overall, a clear and comprehensive plan of the Trudeau government on Ukraine remains to be seen.
- Since taking office, Prime Minister Trudeau has briefly met with President Poroshenko on the fringes of the COP21 Conference in Paris, while a few government press releases have been issued regarding Ukraine.
- Dec. 17: Canada announces funding to increase trade and investment between Canada and Ukraine
- Jan. 10: 5 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group deploys to Ukraine on Operation UNIFIER, 2 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group comes home
- Jan. 11: Canada Gains Expanded Market Access for Beef and Pork to Ukraine
- With over 10,000 people dead and over 1.5 million Ukrainians internally displaced due to the war, will Canada pull back from the G7 table as one of Ukraine’s strongest international supporters in order to pursue what some may describe as more traditional Canadian “middle power” foreign policies?
3. “According to Ms. Freeland, the Liberals support initiatives in the House of Commons to assist Ukraine and called for additional measures to be taken such as travel bans on individuals with close ties to the Russian President and have business connections in Canada. Moreover, she has also urged that Russian banks be excluded from the SWIFT (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication) system. Neither of these initiatives, however, was included in the Liberal platform, so they cannot be considered as official election promises.
- As we can see, Minister Freeland made some strong statements when she was in opposition. Can Minister Freeland and the Trudeau Government revisit these promises now that they are in charge of Global Affairs Canada and our nation’s foreign policy?
4. “In fact, the only official promise outlined in the Liberal’s platform was a commitment to continue Canada’s participation in NATO’s Operation REASSURANCE in central and eastern Europe as well as the multinational training mission in Ukraine (Operation UNIFIER).”
- As noted, this is the only official commitment made by the Liberals on Ukraine.
- This blog mentioned in November, “the NDP’s election platform did not have a position on Ukraine, while the Conservatives provided an extensive list of commitments, including more funds to combat Russian digital propaganda and enhanced military and defence co-operation with Ukraine.” Therefore, the Liberal’s fallback position on Ukraine could be that they never promised a comprehensive plan of actions prior to the election in the first place.