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Trade minister slams Conservatives for voting against Canada-Ukraine trade deal

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International Trade Minister Mary Ng is accusing the Conservatives of denying climate change is real after they voted against an updated free trade deal with Ukraine.

In an interview on CTV’s Question Period airing Sunday, Ng also wouldn’t say who introduced the language around a carbon price, to which the Conservatives have been staunchly opposed, during the trade negotiations.

“We did it together,” Ng told CTV’s Question Period host Vassy Kapelos. “We did it together. And just because the Conservatives want to deny that climate change exists, or that having strong provisions for the environment actually make trade and commerce stronger, is something that they're going to need to answer for.

“But we know we are attracting record investments in Canada,” she added. “Why? Because we actually have a plan for the environment.”

Earlier this month, MPs voted to pass a bill to implement the modernized Canada-Ukraine Free Trade Agreement.

Conservatives voted against the bill, saying they opposed it because it included language promoting a carbon price. Ukraine has had a price on carbon since 2011.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has also criticized the Conservatives for their stance on the issue, accusing them of “abandoning” Ukraine.

Ukraine’s Ambassador to Canada, Yuliya Kovaliv, told Kapelos on CTV News Channel’s Power Play in November — when Conservatives voted unanimously against the bill to update the free trade agreement at an earlier stage of the legislative process — that she hopes support for Ukraine remains steadfast, despite acrimony over climate policies domestically.

“In order for this trade deal to be implemented, Ukraine must agree to promote a carbon tax,” Conservative House Leader Andrew Scheer told reporters ahead of the vote. “That is not something we can support.”

Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre said after the vote that his party did not oppose the free trade deal, but rather against the inclusion of the carbon pricing language in it.

When asked whether it was included in the deal at the request of the Canadian or Ukrainian government, Ng wouldn’t specifically say, instead pointing the finger at Conservatives for voting against it.

“Ukraine wants to better align its policies with that of the European Union,” she said. “This agreement is going to do that. Having strong environmental provisions will certainly help that effort as well.

“But when I think about why is it so important to have this, I said it already, it’s certainly to help the rebuild effort,” she continued. “But I am worried about the cracks that we are seeing in that support for Ukraine with the Conservatives not supporting this agreement.”

With files from CTVNews.ca’s Senior Digital Parliamentary Reporter Rachel Aiello

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