MPs hold emergency debate on crisis in Ukraine
Canada should consider “targeted sanctions” against leaders in the Ukrainian government, NDP foreign affairs critic Paul Dewar said Monday as MPs debated the growing crisis in the eastern European country.
An emergency debate on the unrest in Ukraine took place in the House of Commons Monday night, after Prime Minister Stephen Harper and other politicians condemned the Ukrainian government for its crackdown on protesters who have been hitting the streets for weeks.
Conservative MP Ted Opitz said targeted sanctions are “definitely an option,” along with other actions the Canadian government will consider in concert with its international allies.
Opitz said that “Canada must stand with Ukrainian people” in the midst of a “very serious and deteriorating situation.”
If and when sanctions are applied, Opitz said that must be done “with precision” so that innocent Ukrainian people are not affected.
Liberal MP Ralph Goodale also supported targeted sanctions against Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych and his inner circle.
In her first speech in the House of Commons since she won a Toronto Centre byelection last fall, Liberal MP Chrystia Freeland said Canada must stand together with the Ukrainian people.
Freeland, who spoke of her mother’s Ukrainian background, said she also supports targeted sanctions, which should include freezing Yanukovych’s assets in the West.
The protests began in November after the Ukrainian government abandoned efforts to strengthen economic co-operation with the European Union. The government has been sharply criticized for favouring its ties with Russia.
The Ukrainian Ambassador to Canada, Vadym Prystaiko, told CTV’s Power Play earlier Monday that balancing the relationships with Russia and the EU is “a tricky question.”
He said Ukraine needs to have a close relationship with Russia because the two countries share a border and have an important trade relationship. But he said ties to the EU are also necessary.
The protests in Kyiv and elsewhere have recently become more violent after the government imposed a new anti-protest law. Late Monday, Yanukovych said the government would scrap the controversial legislation.
Prystaiko said he’s hopeful that the latest development will lead to peace in his country.
“I’m becoming more and more hopeful for a positive outcome,” he said.
With files from The Canadian Press