LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Setting the record straight on support for Ukraine

It has come to my attention that Justin Trudeau’s Liberals are spreading misinformation about free trade with Ukraine after Conservatives voted against Bill C-57, the Canada-Ukraine Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act.

The Liberals claim that the Conservative Party has turned its back on Ukraine. This misinformation is not only offensive to me personally as someone whose love for my Ukrainian roots runs deep. It is offensive to all Canadians who demand honesty from their government. I would like to set the record straight.

Bill C-57 is not a free trade bill. It is a carbon tax bill. In a political move that has never been seen before in any free trade agreement, C-57 amends the existing agreement to add a new requirement that both Canada and Ukraine promote carbon taxes. That is why Conservatives have and will continue to vote against it.

Conservatives remain steadfastly in support Ukraine’s fight for freedom. It was our party that initiated the original free trade agreement with Ukraine, which will remain in place even if bill C-57 is defeated.

However, we have been clear: Conservatives will never support any legislation that includes a carbon tax. Canadians are all too aware of the misery Trudeau’s tax has brought to Canada: soaring food prices, high inflation, and heating bills that have gone through the roof. Now, he wants to impose these same policies on the Ukrainian people as they fight for their very survival. It is shameful.

It’s no surprise that the Liberals are attempting to distract from their disappointing record on support for Ukraine. It was Justin Trudeau who agreed to allow a Canadian company to refurbish a massive Russian pipeline turbine that powers Putin’s sale of gas to Europe. His government also refused to renew a Conservative program that provided satellite imagery of Russian troop movements to Ukraine. Even more disturbing are reports that the Liberals permitted the export and sale of landmine detonators that are currently being used by the Russian army.

My Conservative colleagues and I made multiple attempts to improve the trade agreement: by including a plan to sell Canadian natural gas so Europe no longer buys Russian gas to fund Putin’s war machine; implementing a ban on exports of energy infrastructure to Russia; and allowing more sales of Canadian-made arms and civilian-grade uranium to Ukraine. Instead of carbon tax language, Conservatives believe Ukraine needs energy security, increased munitions and weapons exports from Canada, and help to rebuild their capacity to manufacture more munitions themselves.

Common-sense Conservatives have a long and strong record of support for Ukraine. It was Prime Minister Harper who told Vladimir Putin directly, “you need to get out of Ukraine.” It was under Mr. Harper that Canada undertook Operation UNIFIER, the Canadian Armed Forces mission to bolster Ukraine’s armed forces through critical military training. The Harper government also supported Operation REASSURANCE, which saw CF-18 fighter jets participate in Baltic air policing — an operation which the current Liberal government has refused to continue.

That is our party’s true legacy, and we will never waiver. We simply cannot support amendments to the Canada-Ukraine Free Trade Agreement that exports Justin Trudeau’s ideological obsession with carbon taxes. It is not good for Canada, and it is not good for Ukraine.

Cathay Wagantall
Member of Parliament for Yorkton—Melville