Erin O’Toole on Ukraine, NATO and COVID-19 crisis

    Erin O’Toole

    New Pathway – Ukrainian News.

    On 27 June 2020, Canada’s Conservatives will elect their next leader. Among the candidates is a Conservative MP for Durham Erin O’Toole. NP-UN spoke with O’Toole about some major issues of his platform.

    NP-UN: In the changing global environment where the focus is increasingly shifting away from Ukraine, the annexation of Crimea and the war in Donbas, what do you think Canada’s stance towards these problems should be?

    Erin O’Toole: We cannot allow the world to lose site of the situation in the region – Crimea and eastern Ukraine specifically. As Prime Minister, I will stand firm in the face of Russian aggression. Vladimir Putin’s regime cannot be permitted to flout international law and get away with it – point blank. Holding Putin accountable and defending Ukrainian sovereignty will be one of my top priorities in conducting Canada’s foreign affairs.

    I’m proud to have served as a cabinet minister in the government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who told Putin face-to-face that he needed to “get out of Ukraine”. When I am Prime Minister, Canadians can expect me to carry on and expand upon the policies of Prime Minister Harper, who refused to turn a blind eye to the situation in Ukraine.

    I support the people of Ukraine, who, in spite of Russian aggression, desire to build a country rooted in the principles of democracy, respect for human rights and the rule of law that Canada exemplifies. They will have an ally in the world stage in me and the government I intend to lead.

    NP-UN: Do you support Ukraine’s intentions to join NATO and how realistic do you think are these plans in the near term in terms of support from NATO members?

    Erin O’Toole: I believe that Canada should be building closer relationships with our allies – including Ukraine. I would like to see Ukraine become a NATO member but I recognize that this may not happen in the near term. Therefore, as Prime Minister, I will take concrete actions to deepen our alliance, including by developing an exchange program between the Canadian and Ukrainian militaries.

    NP-UN: What would you have done differently as Canada’s Prime Minister from the very onset of the global pandemic?

    Erin O’Toole: Justin Trudeau’s Liberals failed to take the pandemic seriously – and all of us are paying the price. Instead of closing our borders to China when we should have, the Liberals virtue signaled – jeopardizing the health and safety of Canadians. Once it was clear COVID-19 had struck our country, the Liberal government’s rollout of much needed programs and services to keep Canadian families, seniors, students and small businesses afloat was slow and confusing. Worse, many Canadians were left behind after being rendered ineligible for many of the government’s relief programs. The Liberals even had to recall Parliament to fix mistakes in their own legislation!

    As Prime Minister, I would have adopted a wartime footing from the earliest days of the pandemic. I would have invoked the Emergencies Act so the federal government could prohibit travel from hotspots like China, enforce self-isolation and control assemblies, while also mobilizing the military to back up the health system. I would have convened a First Ministers meeting to join with Canada’s premiers in developing a national strategy to ensure our supply lines remained open to critical PPE and that we had a plan to procure PPE where needed. All the while, I would have called Parliament back to work to pass a full suite of measures to assist Canadians and small businesses alike. And, unlike Justin Trudeau, I would have kept Parliament in session throughout the crisis so legislators can quickly adapt to evolving situations and ensure accountability from government Ministers.

    NP-UN: Is there a need for Canada to become more self-sufficient in critical supplies and what should be done here?

    Erin O’Toole: Yes. First and foremost, we need to boost domestic capacity in areas like PPE, key commodities and pharmaceutical capacity so that we no longer need to rely on supply chains stretching to China to supply critical lifesaving needs in future emergencies. To get the job done, we need to bring Canadian manufacturing jobs home from other countries and build a national PPE inventory.

    NP-UN: What lessons from the pandemic do you think should Canada learn in terms of its health care, apart from the need to strengthen the long-term care for seniors?

    Erin O’Toole: There’s a lot to learn from the pandemic, including things I’ve already mentioned – manufacturing PPE, reacting to the needs of individuals and businesses, parliamentary accountability and oversight, and securing our borders. However, there’s also a lot more to be examined, too. That’s why I’ve already committed to, as Prime Minister, convening a Royal Commission on the Pandemic within 100 days of taking office to ensure that all lessons learned from the crisis are publicly aired and learnings can immediately be adopted. Canada must be better prepared for future threats.