OTTAWA – Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on March 9 that he has invited Volodymyr Zelenskyy to address Canada’s Parliament a day after the Ukrainian president made British history when he addressed the United Kingdom’s House of Commons remotely via video link from an undisclosed location in Ukraine.
Mr. Trudeau offered no date as to when Mr. Zelenskyy, who accepted the invitation, will speak to Canadian members of Parliament.
However, the prime minister spoke to the president by phone from Germany, where Mr. Trudeau met with Chancellor Olaf Sholz and held a news conference where he announced further aid to war-ravaged Ukraine on March 9.
Canada will provide $39 million in lethal and non-lethal military equipment to Ukraine, including cameras for Canadian-made surveillance drones.
“There are challenges at borders in terms of getting the equipment securely across and into Ukrainian hands,” Mr. Trudeau said. “But we are working through that with partners alongside all allies who are facing the logistical challenges that are real, but not insurmountable.”
Canada has delivered to Ukraine machine guns, hand pistols and 1.5 million rounds of ammunition and plans to also provide anti-tank weapons, rocket launchers and grenades to the Ukrainian military.
In Germany, the prime minister also said that Canada will contribute about $10 million over five years “to renew and expand the G-7 Rapid Response Mechanism (RRM), which strengthens coordination between countries in responding to threats to G-7 democracies and which was established under Canada’s 2018 G-7 presidency to fight disinformation and misinformation,” according to a news release from Mr. Trudeau’s office.
Canada will also provide $2 million to counter disinformation around Russia’s ongoing aggression against Ukraine.
“We need to stand up for truth and be vigilant against disinformation that tries to mislead us – and more, tries to divide us,” said Mr. Trudeau while in Germany, adding that he believes Ukraine will “unquestionably” win Russia’s unprovoked and premeditated war against Ukraine.
“The question is how long it’s going to take, how we manage to get there with the least amount of loss possible,” Mr. Trudeau said.
However, the Ukrainian Canadian Congress (UCC) said it was worried that time is running out for Ukraine as it fends off a vicious assault from Russia.
The UCC has called on the Canadian government to pressure its NATO allies to enforce a no-fly zone over Ukraine. This time, poll numbers in the country show Canadians support the move.
According to the results of a recent survey of 1,464 Canadian adults conducted by polling firm Abacus Data that was released on March 9, two out of three the respondents were in favor of NATO enforcing a no-fly zone over Ukraine “even at the risk of provoking a greater conflict between NATO and Russia.”
“Even Canadians who believe nuclear war is a risk in this conflict support the no-fly zone, suggesting the trade-offs of a no-fly zone are well appreciated by the Canadian public,” the survey report said.
Abacus also found that seven in 10 Canadians fully support their government’s assistance to Ukraine’s defense efforts.
The Canadian government has “clear, national and cross-partisan public support to pursue an aggressive pro-Ukraine foreign policy in the context of Russia’s invasion,” said the Canadian research firm. “Support was substantial before the Russian invasion and has only grown since.”
In a March 9 statement, UCC President Alexandra Chyczij said that “the Canadian people understand what action is required to protect Ukrainian civilians and to help Ukraine defeat Russia.”
“[President Vladimir] Putin’s Russia is committing genocide against the Ukrainian people. The longer Prime Minister Trudeau and Western leaders refuse to act to stop this evil, the worse the suffering of Ukrainians will become,” she said.
“Every day, a nation of over 40 million people defends the values that define us as Canadians: freedom, democracy, self-determination,” Ms. Chyczij said.
“Ukrainians are defending all of Europe from the onslaught of Russian tyranny,” she added.
In the same statement, UCC Chief Executive Officer Ihor Michalchyshyn said that “Western leaders naively believe they can stay out of this fight. They can’t. Today it is Ukrainians who bleed, alone, for liberty. If we don’t help them win, tomorrow it will be us who bleed.”
Meanwhile, Canada’s Official Opposition Conservatives called on Mr. Trudeau’s Liberal government to take further actions against Russia, including a resumption of air-policing operations as part of the Canadian Armed Forces’ involvement in Operation Reassurance, which is part of NATO’s presence in Eastern Europe.
The Tories also want the Canadian government to send field hospitals and surplus Canadian Army vehicles, including armored ambulances, to Ukraine via Poland.
Conservative Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs Michael Chong, Conservative Shadow Minister for National Defense Kerry-Lynne Findlay and James Bezan, a Ukrainian Canadian who serves as Conservative shadow minister for ethics, issued a joint statement on March 7.
“Putin’s continued unprovoked, illegal attack and invasion of Ukraine is the first major European war between countries since the Second World War and a serious violation of the international order and our collective humanity,” the statement said.
“The cost of not supporting Ukraine’s sovereignty is too great. It means that dictators and autocrats around the world can redraw lines on a map by force, and get away with it. This is a pivotal moment in history. What Canada does now matters,” the statement said.
Following his March 7 meeting with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Mark Rutte, the prime minister of the Netherlands at 10 Downing Street in London, Mr. Trudeau announced another round of sanctions against Russia targeting 10 individuals. The move was first recommended by jailed Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny.
On the list are Vladimir Solovyov, anchor of an eponymous television show on state-owned Russia-1; Margarita Simonyan, editor-in-chief of the Russian TV news network RT, which Canadian broadcasters have dropped from their lineups; and Konstantin Ernst, the CEO of television network Channel One Russia.
Others facing Canadian sanctions are Russia’s health minister, Mikhail Murashko, and Dmitry Patrushev, the country’s agriculture minister, along with Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov.
Also on the sanctions list are two officials of Russia’s Federal Security Service – Victor Gavrilov and Dmitry Ivanov – who were allegedly involved in Mr. Navalny’s arrest, according to a CBC News report.
Missing from that list is Putin confidante Roman Abramovich, who holds a 28.6 percent stake in London-based Evraz plc, which is providing more than half of the steel used for the 609-mile Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project between Alberta and British Columbia. He has also been involved in other major natural gas and oil pipelines in Canada.