NP – UN National Affairs Desk.
A spokesperson for Global Affairs Canada sidestepped questions New Pathway – Ukrainian News sent regarding targeting Belarusian dictator Alyaksander Lukashenka’s money supply and Russia’s planned Nord Stream II pipeline.
NP-UN had initially prepared these questions for an interview with Foreign Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne which was cancelled due to an emergency. Subsequently we were asked to submit it to Global Affairs.
In total eight questions were submitted – three dealing with Belarus and five dealing with Ukraine.
NP-UN National Affairs Editor Marco Levytsky prepared the Belarus questions. When informed he would have 15 minutes, Levytsky then asked Orest Zakydalsky, Senior Policy Advisor for the National Office of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress to submit those on Ukraine, which he did.
In responding, Jason Kung, of the Media Relations Office of Global Affairs Canada avoided the specifics cited in the questions and reiterated what Canada has done so far and the official position.
Following are the questions and answers – first on Belarus, then Ukraine:
1. During a Munk Centre webinar on Belarus, October 16, you stated that Canada’s sanctions were “largely symbolic, but it sends a message that the international community is not going to stand by in front of the gross violations of human rights in front of the increasing use of violence…”. Are there any plans to go beyond symbolic and implement some concrete ones?
2. At that same webinar, opposition candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya’s adviser Franak Viacorka revealed that Belarusian dictator Alyaksandr Lukashenka controls hundreds of private companies through a mechanism known as Management of Presidential Affairs. Would you be willing – in concert with our allies – to find out which of these companies do business with Canada and our allies and impose sanctions upon them?
3. Refined petroleum products and potash fertilizer have been identified as the prime exports of Belarus. Are there any plans to target these exports in consultation with our allies?
Canada condemns the crackdown on peaceful protestors following the presidential election in Belarus. We do not accept the results of this fraudulent presidential election in Belarus and call for free and fair elections. Canada continues to call on the Government of Belarus to respect civic space, including respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, democracy and the rule of law. We recognize the many women on the frontlines of the democracy movement, and condemn all threats of sexual and gender-based violence against them. On November 16, we were proud to present the first Canada-U.K. Media Freedom Award to the Belarusian Association of Journalists, for its perseverance and self-sacrifice in the face of increased targeted crackdowns on media in Belarus.
Since September 2020, Canada has imposed three consecutive rounds of targeted sanctions under the Special Economic Measures Act (SEMA) against 55 Belarusian officials implicated in the ongoing gross and systematic human rights violations occurring in Belarus, actions taken in concert with the European Union and the United Kingdom. These measures effectively freeze any Canadian assets of the listed individuals and render them inadmissible to Canada. We will continue to work with our likeminded partners to ensure our respective and collective responses to the situation in Belarus, including the imposition of additional sanctions, should that be deemed appropriate, to support the rights and legitimate democratic aspirations of the Belarusian people.
We believe that the defence and promotion of human rights is even more powerful when done in concert with our partners around the globe. This is why we continue to coordinate our actions – including the imposition of sanctions, where appropriate – with other partners, as we stand in solidarity with the Belarusian people. Canada continues to engage our partners on steps to resolve the political impasse in Belarus. Minister Champagne has been engaged with his counterparts, had calls with opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, as well as spoken with Belarusian Foreign Minister Makei.
4. The most recent significant sanctions action by Canada with respect to Russia took place over 18 months ago, in March 2019. 114 individuals and 15 entities were sanctioned for aggressive actions against Ukraine. Since that time, only 6 Russian officials have been sanctioned for organizing illegal “elections” in Russian-occupied Crimea, in January 2020. Does the Government of Canada and the Department of Global Affairs plan to strengthen sanctions against Russia and Russian officials for their ongoing invasion of Ukraine and systematic abuse of the human rights of over 100 Ukrainian citizens illegally imprisoned by the Russian regime?
5. The Nord Stream II pipeline, if completed, will seriously destabilize the European
continent’s energy security and undermine Ukraine’s security. The United States, Canada’s most important ally, vigorously opposes Nord Stream II and has implemented sanctions against companies involved in its construction. Canada has not implemented mirror sanctions. What is the Government of Canada’s position on Nord Stream II and will Canada to join the United States in opposing the completion of the pipeline?
6. Recently the Government of the United Kingdom and the Government of Ukraine have taken a series of steps to strengthen security relations, particularly in the naval sphere. What are the plans of the Governments of Canada and Ukraine to strengthen our security relationship?
7. Currently, the Government of Canada provides approximately $50 million annually in humanitarian, democracy and economic development aid to Ukraine. Can we expect that this level of aid will continue in the coming years? What are some of the programs that the Government of Canada plans to support in the near future?
8. Can you tell us about your work with the Ukrainian community in Canada? What advice do you have for the Ukrainian Canadian community in shaping Canada Ukraine relations? What is your view of the role which diaspora individuals and organizations can play in Canada’s foreign policy?
Furthermore, Canada strongly supports Ukraine as it takes the necessary steps to secure its future as a stable, democratic and prosperous country. Since January 2014, Canada has committed more than $800 million in multifaceted support to Ukraine, encompassing a broad range of financial, development, stabilization and security, non-lethal military and humanitarian assistance.
Canada has committed to providing up to $50 million annually to contribute to a more democratic, stable and prosperous Ukraine. This support will be aligned with Canada’s Feminist International Assistance Policy (FIAP) and will focus on: Inclusive Governance; Growth that Works for Everyone; Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women and Girls; and Peace and Security. Canada and Ukraine are continuously working to strengthen and advance our defence and security relationship. Training, capacity building, advisory support and security sector programming are provided to both the defence and policing sector to help bolster Ukraine’s national security, and to support their ambitions to join the Euro-Atlantic community. Canada also recently launched two new Peace and Stabilization Operations Program projects with the Parliamentary Centre and Alinea International, totalling over $4.3 million to strengthen defence and broader security sector reforms in Ukraine as part of Canada’s whole-of-government support to the country.
Canada is steadfast in its support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and has been a strong partner to Ukraine in its journey to implement reforms. To that end, in 2019, Canada co-hosted the Ukraine Reform Conference in Toronto. The conference – attended by a large number of Ministers from the government of Ukraine – provided an opportunity for Ukraine and its friends and partners to reaffirm their full political and practical commitment to robust reforms – including in the fight against corruption – as essential to Ukraine’s Euro-Atlantic vision and renew their partnership in this regard. Canada launched Operation UNIFIER in 2015. Through this mission, approximately 200 Canadian Armed Forces personnel are deployed to Ukraine to provide military-level capacity building to Ukraine’s security forces. Operation UNIFIER is a key part of Canada’s overall effort to help bolster Ukraine’s security, stability and sovereignty.
Canada is consistently engaging with allies and members of the international community to exchange on practical steps to ensure human rights are upheld around the world. We believe that the smart way to impose sanctions is to go with a core group of countries in order to have the maximum impact. To that end, we will continue to monitor the situation and work with our like-minded partners to identify and coordinate appropriate responses.
The Government of Canada continues to engage with the Ukrainian community in various ways. Recently, Minister Champagne spoke with the Ukrainian Canadian Congress (UCC) on a range of issues including Ukraine’s security, reforms, trade, and investment.