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Ukraine's ambassador hopes Canada's support stays strong amid carbon tax trade bill acrimony

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Amid the Conservative party's unanimous rejection of a bill seeking to update the Canada-Ukraine Free Trade Agreement over carbon tax wording concerns, Ukraine's Ambassador to Canada Yuliya Kovaliv says that while she understands there are "differences" in political opinion in this country about climate policies, she hopes support for Ukraine remains steadfast.

"Each country decides, there are many options, and many countries have different policies on how to deal with climate change… What's important for Ukraine, is this free trade agreement," she said in an interview on CTV News Channel's Power Play with Vassy Kapelos.

The issue sparked controversy earlier this week, when Conservative MPs united in voting against advancing the legislation, known as Bill C-57, the modernized Canada-Ukraine Free Trade Agreement (CUFTA). The bill still passed on to the next stage of legislative review, with Liberal, Bloc, NDP, and Green votes, but not without Liberals expressing dismay over Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre's decision.

Reporters asked Poilievre for the second day in a row to explain why his caucus voted the way it did. He doubled down, in stating his position that it was about the carbon pricing wording within the bill seeking to implement an updated version of the two-country agreement, and not the trade deal itself.

"We didn't vote against a free trade agreement, we brought in the free trade agreement. We voted against Justin Trudeau forcing a carbon tax into that pre-existing agreement," Poilievre said.

Poilievre said it was "cruel" for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to expect Ukrainians, in their post-war rebuild, to pay a carbon tax.

While the text of the trade deal does include a commitment that both countries would both, bilaterally and internationally "promote carbon pricing and measures to mitigate carbon leakage risks," the legislation does not include provisions to force a pollution pricing plan.

Kovaliv said Ukraine is looking forward to working on further policies to address its carbon footprint, in line with European Union membership requirements.

On Thursday, Liberal MPs continued to decry the Conservatives' decision to oppose the revised deal.

Government House Leader Karina Gould accused Poilievre of importing "American style right-wing politics" to Canada with this vote, pointing to politicians in the U.S. that have taken "a hard turn against Ukraine," voicing calls to stop helping fund the country's war efforts against Russia.

Asked if she was worried about what is transpiring in the U.S. in regard to support for Ukraine, happening in Canada, Kovaliv said "we do hope that it will not happen." 

Watch the full interview on CTV News Channel's Power Play at the top of this article. 

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