Quotes from the UCC Congress

    Foreign minister Chrystia Freeland speaks at the UCC Congress in Ottawa on November 1

    New Pathway – Ukrainian News.

    The speeches made at the 26th Triennial Congress of Ukrainian Canadian Congress were full of memorable quotes. Today, we present the quotes from Canada’s Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland’s address to the Congress that she made on Friday, November 1.

    “Мені дуже приємно бути з вами сьогодні рано… Я це завжди знала, що Леся [Хичій, Президент Конґресу Українців Канади] – сильна, переконлива українська жінка. Але я це зрозуміла ще раз на минулому тижні, коли я попробувала пояснити, що це просто мені неможливо бути з вами сьогодні рано, тому що в мене були плани бути не тут. Але Леся мене переконала, що відмовитися просто неможливо, … у дуже українському жіночому стилі – з одного боку я зрозуміла, що відмовитися, це не варіант, але з другого боку це було так приємно, ніжно зроблено, що я ще більше люблю Лесю, ніж перед тим”.

    “Ukrainian Canadians were really the first significant non-Anglo and non-Francophone, speaking another language large immigration to our country. And they were figuring out how to deal with us, the Ukrainian Canadians. That was the moment when Canada invented multiculturalism. We, Ukrainian Canadians and I as a Liberal are particularly proud that the concept of multiculturalism was announced, not at all by accident, at the UCC Congress in Winnipeg by Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau. But even before that, Canada’s leaders understood, thanks to their work with Ukrainian Canadians, that that’s the approach we had to have as a country. I want to quote a great line by John Buchan who at the time was Governor General of Canada, from 1936. He was speaking in Fraserwood, MB to Ukrainian Canadians: ‘You will all be better Canadians for being also good Ukrainians.’

    “The second truly big and important focus of our community is our support for independent, sovereign and democratic Ukraine. I am old enough to remember a time when we could only dream to have an ambassador from Ukraine with us. It still gives me an absolute thrill to have Ukrainian diplomats, ministers and deputy ministers here among us.

    “Ukraine continues to be under a very fierce threat… It is very important for me as Foreign minister to underscore that Canada’s support for Ukraine’s independence and territorial integrity is not because of Canada’s fantastic Ukrainian Canadian community but because of the essential principles that Ukraine is fighting for. Ukraine today is on the frontlines of the fight between democracy and authoritarianism, of the fight for the rules-based international order in the world. Russia’s annexation of Crimea and the continuing fighting in the Donbas is the first time that the borders of Europe have been changed by force since WW2. That is a grave violation of the rules we all established after WW2 and that is why we need to be absolutely clear and absolutely unequivocal in our support for Ukraine. And I frame the issue in those terms because for all of us I think it is so important that we make the case in that way in the broader Canadian and international context.

    “It hasn’t been easy [for Ukraine] and I really am concerned that it’s not going to get easier in the coming months and years. This is the moment when the rules-based international order and liberal democracy more broadly are under threat and not only because of the actions of resurgent authoritarian regimes like Vladimir Putin’s Russia. They are also under threat because within our own Western alliance, in many liberal democracies the whole idea of liberal democracy is being challenged. And I am so proud to say that Canada is bucking that trend. I believe that today Canada is the world’s strongest liberal democracy. It’s an astonishing point to make and in a way all of my Canadian modesty kind of shrinks back when I say it. But if not us, then who? We really are today that city on the hill. But we need to recognize that that fight for liberal democracy and rules-based international order is one that we need to play a leading role in and that sometimes we will feel quite alone. In that connection, when it comes to the notion that Russia somehow should be readmitted to the G7, Canada’s position continues to be very clear: Russia was expelled from what was then the G8 precisely because of the invasion and annexation of Crimea. Actions need to have clear consequences and it would be entirely wrong for Russia to be readmitted as long as Crimea continues to be annexed and occupied.

    “After elections, it is important for us to come together and for elected representatives to recognize that collectively we have a responsibility to represent all Canadians and to govern for the whole country. And looking out into this remarkably full for a rainy Friday morning room I am very inspired about the ability of our country to come together. We are after all at a time when our country can feel quite divided and the Ukrainian Canadian Congress brings together Ukrainians from Ontario, Quebec, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, from Atlantic Canada and from B.C. We are a community that really spans that regional divide. The Ukrainian Canadian community has been very effective in understanding the importance of framing issues that embrace the Canadians of all political persuasions.”

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