House of Commons Hansard #31 of the 38th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was ukrainian.


UkraineEmergency Debate

7:10 p.m.


Judy Wasylycia-Leis NDP Winnipeg North, MB

Madam Speaker, I think it is important tonight to say:

This is a very important night for us. It is a chance for us to speak clearly with one voice in response to a very grave international situation, that being the outcome of the elections just held in Ukraine.

It is an important debate for those of us of Ukrainian descent because of what we have learned over the years from our ancestors. It is also important for all Canadians who care about democracy. It is important for all freedom-loving people around the world.

The debate tonight is of grave concern to all of us, particularly for the members of the New Democratic Party. We are strongly in support of actions in the face of the fraudulent electoral results in Ukraine. We all know that the future of democracy in Ukraine and therefore the future of democracy worldwide is at stake.

I want to thank my colleague, the member for Etobicoke Centre, for his work leading up to the elections. He brought forward a motion in the House on October 28 calling for a free and fair transparent process in Ukraine elections. The motion was supported by all parties in this House, the New Democratic Party included.

I want to thank the member for Etobicoke Centre for the days he spent in Ukraine as an observer of the electoral process. I am sure it was an exhausting voyage and a very difficult time emotionally for him. Yet he is here in the House tonight and is prepared to debate this very important issue and to provide constructive observations and suggestions for all of us.

I also want to reference the work of the government today. It is an important development for the Canadian government to be straightforward and come out in a clear way against the election results in Ukraine. The Deputy Prime Minister stood in the House today and said that the Canadian government does not recognize the official results of the election in Ukraine. She called for an immediate review of the electoral process and actions to be taken depending on the results of that review.

Those were decisive words. We appreciate that the government has taken such a decisive initiative so early on in the process. Some may have wished for it a day earlier. Perhaps yesterday we expected such a statement from the government, but we are grateful that today we are dealing with something very clear and very detailed.

The responsibility for us in this emergency debate is to assist the government in outlining the appropriate actions to be taken in the aftermath of this tragic situation. The fact that we are having an emergency debate tonight denotes accurately the urgency of this situation in Ukraine as we speak.

By all news reports thousands of people are demonstrating peacefully for democracy for yet another day. Riot police and troops are evident throughout the country. There has been a call for a general strike. At the centre are two candidates both claiming victory in the recent election.

We know from the observations of colleagues in this House and other international monitors who voyaged to Ukraine that in fact the election in Ukraine was fraudulent. As my colleague, the member for Ottawa Centre said yesterday in the House, we have clear reports from neutral international monitors, including Canadians, indicating that Sunday's election was neither fair nor transparent. The problems cited by observers include voter harassment, intimidation, biased television coverage by state owned stations, vote rigging and ballot box switching.

There has been intimidation. There has been corruption. There has been a denial of the democratic right to vote.

We all know how important the right to vote is, but we take it for granted. We cannot imagine what it is like for a country to have fought for that right year after year, only to see that freedom taken away as the result of an autocratic regime determined to fix this election in line with that regime's predetermined notion of society. It is nothing close to civil society, nothing resembling what we mean by civil society, but a regime that destroys those aspirations of freedom-loving people.

We are dealing with a situation today in Ukraine that is tense, explosive and terrifying. People are literally putting their lives on the line for the democratic values and rights that we have here in this country and are exercising in this place at this very moment. We owe them our full and unqualified support. We have to make it clear to those who would stand in the way of democracy that our support will be meaningful, it will deliberate and it will be strong.

As I just said, the Canadian government has indicated that based on the widespread incidence of fraud, it will not recognize the results of the recent election. It has called for a full review of the election results and has said that it will have to examine its relations with Ukraine unless corrective action is taken.

A full range of options must be considered in that examination. I would hope in this situation which has developed rapidly over the past number of weeks that we will move forward addressing this crisis with a comprehensive and well thought out strategy for an active role in resolving this difficult situation.

I think we can understand people taking to the streets when that basic right and freedom is taken away. I think we can understand the determination of people to fight for that freedom. We pray and hope for a peaceful resolution of this matter, but we surely can understand their response when an autocratic dictator moves in and denies the results exercised freely and willingly and democratically. As the member for Etobicoke Centre said earlier today in our discussions with the media, we must put our arms out and show compassion to the people of Ukraine who are experiencing such grief at this very moment. We as Canadians have a special responsibility to do that.

Madam Speaker, I should indicate that I am splitting my time with the member for Churchill.

Canada has a special relationship with Ukraine. We were the first nation to recognize its modern independence. The close family ties between those in Ukraine and Canada have created over the decades a unique bond.

We have a very special responsibility. I saw the fervour of that determination by Canadians just this past weekend in Winnipeg when we participated in a symbolic polling station at the legislative grounds beneath the monument of Taras Shevchenko. This event was organized by the Ukrainian students union at the University of Manitoba, who are determined to show to the world what civil society is all about and why it is so important for this country to take a stand.

Those demonstrations are happening everywhere in Canada. We will see more in the days to come. Let me just conclude by repeating the words of Taras Shevchenko whose monument was towering over us in Winnipeg on Sunday. He said in 1860:

Will there be punishmentof all the Czarson the land?Will there be truthamong people? There must be,otherwise the sun will riseand set on firethe whole land.

UkraineEmergency Debate

7:20 p.m.


Bev Desjarlais NDP Churchill, MB

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to speak during this debate tonight. First, I wish to thank my colleague from Winnipeg North as well as the member for Etobicoke Centre who has been very much a part of keeping parliamentarians informed as to what was taking place in Ukraine. I am sure it has been mentioned already that he has been personally involved having a good part of his family still in Ukraine.

For many of us that is not the case. A number of us have grandparents or great-grandparents who came over from Austria but who were of Ukrainian descent, and a good number came over from Ukraine. In the last number of years as Ukraine went to a democracy, or we hoped it was going to a democracy, thousands of Canadian-Ukrainians have taken the opportunity to return to Ukraine to join up with family members from generations back and reconnect with their history.

I have not gone back. My grandparents on my father's side were Ukrainian. I did not have close ties to Ukraine, but as we were growing up we were always embedded with a pride of all the cultures that made us what we are, and made us Canadians. It has been very interesting for me to be part of the conversations with a number of people from my community and throughout my riding who have had the opportunity to go back to Ukraine, to bring back the stories of how the country wanted to rebuild and wanted to be part of democracy, and have the same opportunities as we do in democratic Canada.

We thought, with this election, that we were going to see real change and a real strive forward. It is like a roller coaster. There has been this up and down, but there was this big up over the last few months and then about a week ago, or maybe even two weeks, people started to get a little nervous because it seemed like things were getting a bit shady, and the reality was that it got extremely bad.

I think what we have seen among Ukrainian-Canadians is an outpouring of feeling for their homeland, but also from other Canadians who have seen what has happened. They know that there are family members here and what they are going through. They have just been devastated to see this happen.

It becomes even more of a heart-rending moment when we see the possibility of violence and injury to those people in Ukraine who want to continue fighting for democracy, and are not willing to just throw in the towel right now. Rightfully so, they should not.

Canadians and western democracies throughout the world must ensure that we are there to give all the support that we can. It is important that we let the government that has put itself in place, and certainly those backers of that government, know that we are not going to leave Ukraine on its own, that we are going to stand firm with the people of Ukraine. We are going to be there for them to ensure that they get through this challenging time and we are going to take it one step at a time.

I was extremely hopeful this afternoon in the House when the government came out with a very strong statement. For the first time in a long time it was a strong statement against an election that was obviously flawed and against a government that was obviously not democratic.

I am pleased that the government took that position. I am a little bit concerned that often there is a tendency with the governing party to say the words and not follow through, and that just cannot happen in this instance. It absolutely cannot happen. We must immediately get those supports to the Ukrainian people. We must let them know that we are here standing beside them. We are going to be there when they start to feel like it is becoming an overwhelming challenge and the loss of lives might happen. I hope it does not. I hope we do not reach that point. I hope there is enough pressure put on from outside governments that it does not happen.

It is extremely important that the government follows through. This is one of those times where it cannot be allowed to happen. We have the opportunity to be proactive, to ensure that we do not let it digress and get much worse. It is crucially important that we offer that support to Ukraine.

As my colleague from Etobicoke Centre mentioned, and I had the opportunity to speak to him this morning, he returned from Ukraine yesterday evening and was very much a part of what was taking place. He, as well as numerous others, saw ballot boxes being stuffed with numerous votes and saw situations where people who legitimately should have been able to vote were not. They were witness, a good number of them, to people being forced and threatened not to vote.

It is not as if this really did not happen and these are not just a few stories here and there. This was blatant, outright skullduggery. I am trying not to be more forceful in my words with regard to the fellow who has placed himself as leader, but it was just blatant. For the world to accept that blatant, outright attack on democracy is not okay. Certainly, it is not okay for Canada to accept that without being strong behind our words.

To all the people in Canada who have relatives in Ukraine, and friends with whom they have reunited with over the last number of years upon returning, our prayers are with them all. It must be a very emotional time for them. Our prayers are with the people of Ukraine. We want to offer whatever support we can. I certainly hope that the government makes the point of being there for the people of Ukraine.

UkraineEmergency Debate

7:25 p.m.

St. Catharines Ontario


Walt Lastewka LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Works and Government Services

Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to speak tonight, especially on the topic of the elections in Ukraine. Earlier today in the House the Deputy Prime Minister made the following statement on behalf of the Prime Minister, “Considering the allegations of serious and significant electoral fraud from international and Canadian election observers, the Government of Canada cannot accept the announced results by the Central Election Commission to reflect the true democratic will of the Ukrainian people”.

Madam Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Parkdale—High Park.

Canada rejects the announced final results. The Government of Canada calls for a full, open and transparent review of the election process. Canada will have no choice but to examine its relations with Ukraine if the authorities fail to provide election results that reflect the democratic will of the people.

Canadians are shocked and dismayed at what has transpired in Ukraine. There is disbelief that a country which has striven so hard to become free and democratic could have an election with such a questionable outcome. The international election observers mission had 563 observers in Ukraine. They have cited countless problems and they believe Ukraine's presidential poll was not fully free and fair.

Here are some examples of what the election observers have seen. During the election campaign the state's resources were blatantly directed to the support of Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych. The state-funded media overtly favoured the prime minister in all of its news coverage of the campaign. One independent station was restricted in coverage, in fact, not being able to cover Ukraine.

There was also interference in his favour by the state administration through state directives and through government officials. Media directives issued by unknown persons, it seems, restricted the public's free access to balanced information. Inflammatory campaign material of an ominous and questionable origin was sent out against the opposition. Individuals were subject to pressure and intimidation by those who supported Mr. Yanukovych. Citizens whose livelihood depended directly or indirectly upon the state were placed under duress to acquire and relinquish their absentee voting certificates to their superiors.

Former minister David Collenette, who was in Ukraine to monitor the vote Sunday, was just one of the many observers who concluded that the election was seriously flawed. “We do not have time to go through the whole litany of things”, he told CTV Canada AM in an interview from Ottawa on Wednesday. He said:

There were people bused in, there was mass use of absentee ballots, there were people removed from the list, there was physical intimidation. In the poll that I was in, there was invisible ink used in the pens before Yushchenko's people discovered it, and we've got one of the pens.

My nephew, Harry Ewaschuk, has one of those pens.

Mr. Yanukovych did not make a clear separation between resources owned or managed by the incumbent political forces and those resources of the state and the resources of big brother, Russia, and these are only a few examples. Taken together these crooked and unprincipled actions will not be tolerated.

For 70 years the Ukrainian people in Canada prayed for Ukrainian independence. At the steps of city hall, at cenotaphs, and in front of monuments like the great Ukrainian poet, Taras Shevchenko, we prayed for a peaceful transition to an independent state of Ukraine, independent so that the ordinary people of Ukraine could decide their fate and their future.

Independence in 1991 was to provide Ukraine with a better future. What we have today is a tragedy, another fixed election with Russia's interference and a return to the old communist rule. The state decides and not the people. How can so many international observers document so many infractions and the state still casts these observations aside?

With Mr. Kuchma's remarks, his meddling, restricting free independent broadcasting, directing officials to harass and threaten the ordinary people of Ukraine, he has obviously returned to the old communist way of conducting restricted elections.

Mr. Kuchma and company cannot hide from the world. The world is watching and will not stand for it any more. More importantly, Ukrainians are watching and millions of ordinary Ukrainian people are in the streets. The government can run. The electoral commission must accept that the election was flawed, unfair, undemocratic, and robbed Ukraine of its true choice by the people for a democratically elected president.

The possibility of bloodshed in the streets could emerge at any time. People in Ukraine are sick and tired of being put down by people like Mr. Kuchma and big brother from Russia. The people of Ukraine want freedom, justice and a truly democratic election. Canada has, through CIDA, promoted democratic development in Ukraine to the strengthening of government institutions and civil society.

The actions of this past week indicate very clearly that the Government of Canada must do more to help Ukraine. Likewise, we must more than ever support RCI broadcasts to help Ukraine to get good news.

My family left Ukraine because of the loss of democracy and the takeover by Russia. My father Michael and my father Pauline and my three sisters Millie, Mary and Phyllis came to Canada for freedom, for justice and for democracy.

Once again Ukraine is hurting, a loss of opportunity for a better future. The world must act swiftly for the good of the people of Ukraine.

I want to thank the member for Etobicoke Centre for all his work. I want to congratulate Ambassador Robinson for his excellent work in Ukraine before, during and after the election. I thank the Prime Minister, through the Deputy Prime Minister, for speaking today. I thank all my colleagues in the House and all the parties for their support.

Just like Canada supports Ukraine, the Ukrainian people need Canadians to help them on their road to true democracy. As they say in Ukrainian, Slava Ukraina .

UkraineEmergency Debate

7:35 p.m.

Parkdale—High Park Ontario


Sarmite Bulte LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage

Madam Speaker, I rise tonight to participate in this emergency debate for two reasons. There is a significant number of Ukrainian Canadians who live in my riding. I believe there are more than one million Canadians of Ukrainian descent living throughout Canada. Over the last few days, I have had numerous e-mails from my constituents and other members of the Ukrainian community concerned about the illegalities that have occurred in Ukraine during the election. I have brought some of those e-mails with me to share with everyone.

Last night there was a protest in front of the Canadian consulate, which is situated in my riding of Parkdale—High Park on Bloor Street West. I received an e-mail from a doctor who advised me, “We will be demonstrating tonight in our riding in front of the Ukrainian consulate on Bloor Street West. I have even managed to get my emergency shift covered at the Hospital for Sick Children tonight by one of my colleagues so I can go out and protest for the democratic process”.

I cannot express how I felt when I read that. Many of us in Canada take democracy for granted. This brought home to me just how important and necessary proper are elections in Ukraine.

Second, I am not Ukrainian or of Ukrainian descent. I am of Latvian descent. I am the first member from a Baltic country to take a seat in the House of Commons. My parents came to Canada from Latvia in 1951, after World War II and the occupation of Latvia by the Soviet Union. I truly believe that what has happened and is currently happening in Ukraine may indeed have profound effects throughout all of central and eastern Europe and, dare I say, the world.

It was The Economist which noted that the election could change the world by helping to map out the future shape of Europe. However, what I fear the most is that if these election results go unchallenged, there will be a foreboding return to an eastern and central Europe pre-1991, an eastern and central Europe that once again is occupied by the old Soviet Union.

I would like to thank the Prime Minister, through the Deputy Prime Minister today, for unequivocally rejecting the announced final results and calling for a full, open and transparent review of the electoral process. Specifically, the Deputy Prime Minister today announced during question period that considering the allegations of serious and significant electoral fraud from international and Canadian election observers, the Government of Canada could not accept that the announced results by the Central Election Commission reflected the true democratic will of the Ukrainian people. She went on to say that Canada would have no choice but to examine its relations with Ukraine if the authority failed to provide election results that reflect the democratic will of the people.

While participating in this debate, in my capacity as the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage, I would like to advise the House of Commons that Canada's public broadcaster, the CBC, is committed to ensuring that during this difficult time, Canadians get the information they need about events in Ukraine.

This morning CBC Radio-Canada Vice-President Sylvain Lafrance informed the staff of Radio Canada International, better known as RCI, and key stakeholders that given the extraordinary circumstances in the Ukraine, RCI has put on hold planned programming changes and will instead continue broadcasting its 30-minute 7 days a week programming in Ukrainian. This will help ensure important support to the Ukrainian community during this crisis. I thank CBC for doing so.

I am also pleased to report to my constituents that Canada is contributing to the OSCE election observer missions to Ukraine by sending 15 long term and up to 34 short term observers. I know we have been monitoring the events in the Ukraine very closely. As we know, The Government of Canada has sent a number of Canadian parliamentarians to the Ukraine to observe elections, including the first round elections. Moreover, during the last month, a parliamentary delegation travelled to Ukraine to observe and support the electoral process. In fact, Canada has sent its largest ever contingent of election observers to Ukraine, more than 50 election observers to support the conduct of free and fair elections in the presidential vote.

Let me share with members some of the massive irregularities and fraud that we received from credible sources, people who participated in the observation, and they are quite frightening. At this time, I too would like to thank the member of Parliament for Etobicoke Centre for being part of our caucus and for providing firsthand knowledge of what he saw transpiring there, as one of our election observers. He just returned last night.

For example, observers noted that post-secondary students were offered a range of bribes to vote for the prime minister, including higher grades, money, and two months free rent. Some voters in eastern Ukraine, the stronghold of the incumbent prime minister, voted in the morning at the local polling station. Then they were bused to Kiev and other locations to vote again, sometimes more than once, using absentee ballots.

It is hard to believe we hear of these things going on in the year 2004. What I find amazing, and which was confirmed by the member for Etobicoke Centre, is that international observers and opposition scrutinizes were denied access to polling stations. Some Canadian observers were followed and threatened. We were told today that some people had their Canadian passports taken away.

The Prime Minister has been monitoring the situation very carefully. In fact, the Prime Minister stated in Brazil that the preliminary reports of electoral violations were disturbing, and if they were accurate, the international community would want to examine its options. This was way before the election results were announced.

The deputy minister of foreign affairs, in the absence of the foreign affairs minister, who is travelling with the Prime Minister right now, summoned the Ukrainian ambassador to express Canada's deep concerns over reports of serious election violations. The foreign affairs minister called for an immediate investigation of allegations of serious fraud, full transparency and an election result that truly reflects the democratic choice of Ukrainians.

I also want to commend our ambassador in Kiev who, in meeting with the media, has stressed Canada's long-standing support for democracy and a civic society in Ukraine, and for free, fair and transparent elections.

I have received e-mail after e-mail over the last two days that talk about the illegalities and the fraud. The most moving e-mail I received, which had been attached to one from my constituent, was from a Canadian who was in Ukraine just hours after the election results had been announced. I would like to share that with members of the House. She writes:

Dear friends in Canada,

As many of you already know, approximately 2 hours ago Ukraine's Central Election announced the official and final results of the second round of voting that took place November 21. Although the result was clearly grossly falsified, it is now official, and according to the Ukrainian Constitution, Viktor Yanukovych will be sworn in as president within 30 days.

The reaction on the streets of Kyiv has been one of shock. There are currently anywhere from 700 thousand to a million people on Maidan Nezalezhnosti, and near the Presidential Administration on Bankova St. Rumours abound: Russian troops have apparently been seen moving towards Kyiv (this information has not been independently confirmed); Russian troops were apparently seen by Yulia Tymoshenko last night inside the Presidential Administration itself. During the next couple of days things might get a little scary.

Madam Speaker, they are scary. For me this brought to mind being a teenager watching the Soviet tanks roll into Czechoslovakia and being a young adult watching the Soviets try to take over Solidarity in Poland.

Our hearts and prayers go out to the people in Ukraine, the people who want to have their will recognized, and to my constituents and their many relatives. Let us work together and ensure that democracy is indeed returned to Ukraine.

UkraineEmergency Debate

7:45 p.m.


Vic Toews Conservative Provencher, MB

Madam Speaker, I am very thankful for this opportunity to speak. Many of my constituents are of Ukrainian descent. Some came to this country almost 100 years ago while others are of more recent immigration.

Although I am not an ethnic Ukrainian, both of my parents were born in Ukraine. Indeed, my grandparents and countless members of my family and people were murdered by the Soviets during the last century, so in a small way, many years later, I feel personally connected to the potential tragedy that is unfolding in Ukraine.

I received a letter from a person I will not name, but indeed he spent some years studying here in Canada and has now returned home to Ukraine to work. I would like to read portions of his letter to the House. He states:

My Dear Friends,

You have probably heard about the very heated situation in Ukraine. Ukraine is on the verge of Revolution. In the second round of presidential elections the figures were falsified and the nation was deceived. A pro-government candidate and the current government have openly rejected the will of the people, the will to choose.

Today in all the many cities of Ukraine people came out on the streets to protect their choice. [A] Majority of the Ukrainians believe their next president is, now, Viktor Yushenko. He is the man from the opposition. People believe that only he can lead Ukraine to the future. The western world supports him, where Russia supports the current prime minister of Ukraine.

I want to stop there for a moment while I am reading. I am not here to choose sides. I do not think any member of the House is here to choose sides in that election. That is a choice for Ukrainian people to make. I am simply reiterating the concern that this one individual is relating to the people of Canada.

He continues with his letter:

About 4 hours ago I have just returned from the 5-hour meeting that took place at the Kharkiv's Square of Freedom, the second largest square in Europe (some say the largest). The meeting was in support of Viktor Yushenko, whom I support too. We had about 100,000 people who protested against the false results of the elections. We know that this is a huge test of democracy for Ukrainians. In Kyiv the meeting is 24-hour-7 and has about 500,000 people all the time.

I think this corresponds to what my colleague across the way was just saying. The letter continues:

There are numerous meetings that have been taking place all over Ukraine [in] support of Viktor Yushenko.

With this letter I urgently request you to have a special day of prayers in your schools, churches, work places, homes. The situation in Ukraine is on the edge of catastrophe. The nation does not want to be subjected and deceived anymore. Ukraine says NO to thieves, criminals and corruption. Please uphold me and my people in your prayers. This is a very urgent cry to you, my friends. We have a chance to show the world that our democracy is not just on paper, but we need your prayers and your encouragement. I do not want to have another USSR, where we are told what to do and what to believe in.

Please follow the news and keep us in your mind. Tomorrow is another meeting to continue to protect our freedom. Help us God.

He concludes by saying “with sincere love to all of you”, and he writes from Kharkiv, Ukraine.

The western world for the most part stood silently by as the Soviets starved and butchered the inhabitants of Ukraine during the 20th century. Some from the western world, I am ashamed to say, were even apologists for that horrid regime.

The western world has the duty to ensure that a new totalitarian government does not take the place of the Soviet system. Canada must do everything it can to prevent this from happening.

First, we must not be silent the way the western world was silent in the early 20th century when so many people were murdered, when so many people starved to death in the breadbasket of the world, Ukraine.

Second, we must act. We must act diplomatically and Canada must be very clear where it stands on this issue.

I was so very pleased to hear the parliamentary secretary convey what this government's position is. We saw in the House today on this issue a very rare unanimous support of the government's position. I am proud that our government stood up and indicated where it stands.

We must act diplomatically, but secondly, if our concerns and our voice are not heard, we must act economically against an illegitimate government. We must ensure that the Ukrainian people have the right to make the choice to democratically elect their government.

We should not make the mistakes of the 20th century. Some say that time is past, that it will never happen again. Democracy and freedom are values that we take so for granted here in this country. We do not believe that democracy and our values cherishing freedoms will ever be compromised, but they can be, so we must stand with democratic forces across this world, across the globe. We must stand to tell those who want to destroy democracy in Ukraine that it will not happen again.

I am sharing my time with my colleague from Edmonton. Those are my comments. I wish all the very best, God's richest blessings, to the people of Ukraine.

UkraineEmergency Debate

7:55 p.m.


Leon Benoit Conservative Vegreville—Wainwright, AB

Madam Speaker, I cherish tonight's opportunity to be a part of a democracy where I can stand and speak to people right across the country about an issue that is so important to me, to Canadians, to the people of Ukraine and to people of Ukrainian descent right around the world. The very issue we are talking about demonstrates that we should not take these rights and these freedoms for granted.

It is a dark day in Ukraine, a dark day indeed. After so many years and so many decades of Russian persecution, finally in 1989 the wall came down and there was great hope for the people of Ukraine. Since then they have struggled to build a free and democratic nation. The results have been very mixed, without a doubt, but there was hope and progress was being made.

Now, with the process of this election, with the corruption surrounding this election, all of that could well be lost. Ukraine could be returning soon to the grip of Russia, which it finally shed 15 years ago. That is the reality. That is how dark a day this is for Ukraine. That is why we have to take this issue extremely seriously.

I was somewhat encouraged today when the Deputy Prime Minister stood in the House and made quite a strong statement about how Canada views what has happened. She made it clear that Canada will not recognize the result of this election as it stands because of the cheating that has gone on during this campaign, during the vote count and on voting day. She made that clear. She also said that Canada will take certain steps immediately to send a very clear message to those in power in Ukraine that we will not tolerate this.

I hope that the extent of the position and the action that the Government of Canada has talked about so far is enough to influence those in power in Ukraine, to make them recognize that the world will not tolerate what has happened here and that we will demand this on behalf of the people of Ukraine, on behalf of people so closely tied to Ukraine. They are people like so many of my constituents, my neighbours and my friends, the people I grew up with, the people whose neighbourhood I moved into, who have such close ties to Ukraine. They travel regularly to meet with family in Ukraine and did so even when the wall was still up.

That connection is so strong that only someone who has emigrated from another country and from such a different situation, or who has had parents or grandchildren emigrate from a situation like that, and where they have talked about it and told their children and grandchildren just what reality is to live in a situation like that, only those people can really understand why these ties are as strong as they are. But they are there and we cannot ignore that.

Not just the people in my constituency but people of Ukrainian background around the world and in fact all Canadians have to be very concerned with what has happened, because we truly could be at the start of a major step back in that whole part of the world. Whether it is done through arms or whether it is done through cheating in an election campaign, the end result could be the same.

We cannot stand by. We have to take whatever action is necessary to deal with this. Canadians know that. I know that members of the House know just how important our behaviour as a nation is at this time.

I want to recognize those who have gone from Canada as observers to monitor, to watch and then to report back on what has happened during this election campaign. The member of the Conservative Party from Edmonton East was there as an observer. He spoke to a crowd that was demonstrating after the bogus results came in. He understands what has happened. The role he played was important. Without those observers from countries around the world, and all of the observers from Canada, we could not possibly have known for sure what happened during that campaign.

I would like to thank the member for Edmonton East. I would also like to thank our party's foreign affairs critic who has been following this issue closely. He has been talking about it and taking whatever action he could to bring the government's attention to this issue over the past few weeks. I want to thank him for the action he has taken not only on behalf of our party, but on behalf of constituents from constituencies represented by the Conservative Party and on behalf of Canadians as a whole. Being an observer or taking a stand on an issue like this one is not easy to do. I thank those members for doing that. It means an awful lot and it should be recognized.

Where do we go from here? The government took the position that it will not stand by idly. That is an important first step, but it may not be enough. Tonight if we learn anything from listening to our colleagues speak and from thinking and talking about this issue, I hope what we get out of this is that we have the resolve to do whatever is necessary to deal with this situation.

The action the government has announced is appropriate for now. If it requires tough economic action in the future, then we have to be prepared to do that. We have to be prepared to take whatever action is necessary in the weeks and months to come.

All of us are hoping and praying that the powers in Ukraine will recognize that the world will make them suffer if they do not allow another election to take place or somehow deal with the fraudulent situation that is in place right now. I hope and pray they learn that, but it is anybody's guess whether or not they will. I am not at all convinced that will happen without much tougher action.

For the last four or five years, I have been fortunate to have four interns from Ukraine in my Ottawa office. The young man who was in my office this year left only two weeks ago. I took him to my constituency for a long weekend. We went to a fascinating event, the 100th anniversary of the first Ukrainian settlement in a particular community. It was a marvellous event for him. He spoke English and Ukrainian. All of the babas spoke to him in Ukrainian. They were delighted to have a young man from Ukraine to talk to. Many of them had visited Ukraine. It meant so much to them but it meant more to him to see the lives they built here in our wonderful country.

As I said in my comments to that group, this young man, Taras, was not here to stay in our country. He wants to do what is necessary to make Ukraine the kind of country that is free and democratic and that can become more like Canada. He wants that with all his heart.

I asked him what he thought the outcome of the election would be and he predicted it accurately. He also predicted that the result would be like that because of fraud and cheating and because the media reported only one side of the election. I am sure he was among the crowds demonstrating in Ukraine yesterday and today calling for a complete turnaround of this situation, a new election, whatever is required to fix this situation. My heart and my prayers are with him.

I hope and pray that two or three months from now, the world, with resolve, can turn this around and he can start to rebuild democracy and freedom in Ukraine.

UkraineEmergency Debate

8:05 p.m.

Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine Québec


Marlene Jennings LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister (Canada—U.S)

Madam Speaker, I am quite honoured to take part in this debate and to share my views on the issue.

There may be many people who are watching the debate and asking why the member for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine is taking part in the debate on the elections in Ukraine. Why does this woman who is clearly of African descent care about this?

I only have a very small Ukrainian community in my riding, less than 1,000 people. It is a very active community. It is a community that has contributed much, on the NDG side, but most particularly on the Lachine side. However it is not determinant, in terms of my election for instance, at least not today.

The hon. member across the way made a very important point by saying that anyone who knows Ukrainians could not help but be engaged in this issue. I want to say that anyone who has had experience of the human condition, of the mistakes of the 20th century, the mistakes of the 19th century, the mistakes of the 18th, 17th, 16th and 13th centuries, long back, that carry into the 21st century cannot help but be engaged in the issue of free and democratic elections in Ukraine and the fact that it did not happen.

It has been explained quite clearly what happened in Ukraine in these elections. These elections were filled with egregious wrongdoings and that the results announced by the Central Election Commission of Ukraine simply cannot be accepted and are not being accepted by the people of Ukraine.

We can turn on our televisions daily, hourly, and see the hundreds of thousands of people who have massed in Kiev to demonstrate the fact that they do not accept the results. They feel that this election has been stolen from them. They are expressing their will for free, transparent, democratic elections that express the true democratic will of the Ukrainian people.

My father was an immigrant to this country. He came from the United States. When my father immigrated to Canada, he emigrated from the state of Alabama. In the state of Alabama, indeed in most states in the United States in the mid-1940s, people of African descent were not allowed to vote. Further to that, lynchings took place. Any person of the black race, of African descent, in many of the southern states in the United States, put their lives on the line if they demonstrated, verbally or otherwise, for their freedoms.

I do not have to have Ukrainian ancestry within me in order to be engaged in this issue. I could not have been prouder than today during question period when our Deputy Prime Minister stood and I will quote what she said:

“Considering the allegations of serious and significant electoral fraud from international and Canadian election observers, the Government of Canada cannot accept that the announced result by the Central Election Commission reflects the true, democratic will of the Ukrainian people. Therefore, Canada rejects the announced final results. The Government of Canada calls for a full, open and transparent review of the election process and Canada will have no choice but to examine its relations with Ukraine if the authorities fail to provide election results that reflect the democratic will of the people of that country”.

That was the statement of the Deputy Prime Minister today in question period in response to a question directed to her by the leader of the official opposition. I was proud.

However, the point has been made that Canada needs to monitor the response of Ukraine to the call by Canada and by other members of the international community and by the Ukrainian people themselves that these election results be reviewed. Ukraine must ensure that a free, transparent, democratic election process takes place that will allow the results to be the true reflection of the democratic will of the Ukrainian people so that the results can be seen as credible and worthy of acceptance and recognition and the international community and the Ukrainian people can embrace those results.

If that should not happen, I will certainly be one of the many voices calling on our government to take the next steps that would need to be taken, whether those steps be diplomatic or economic sanctions. It is clear. We have a responsibility. We are in the 21st century. Ours is a country that will support the emerging democracies and the fundamental freedoms of each and every person.

The way we do so is to support the emerging democracies. Ukraine is such a democracy. Ukraine has less than two decades under its belt as a free, democratic society. The mark of a true democratic society is the ability of that society and its institutions to put into place free, transparent election processes where people of the society accept the results.

We are talking about possible election reform within our country, but that reform does not come out of a view, of any Canadian, that the results of our elections are not a true reflection of the democratic will of this society. In no instance has anyone ever suggested that. What has been suggested is that, as a mature democracy, we may wish to explore other options in order to ensure a further diversity of views that will come out of election results. That is a debate for another day.

Constituents of Ukrainian descent here in Canada have participated as members of Canada's delegation of election observers, both in the previous election and in the present election. We are being told by the international community, and also by our own election observers, that they witnessed with their very eyes ballot stuffing, absentee voter certificates, repeated voting, irregularities in the ballot counting, last minute additions to voter lists on election day, and restrictions placed on voters' abilities to cast their ballots.

That is only a number of the egregious irregularities that our own election observers witnessed. Canada had no choice but to reject the election results announced by the central election commission of the Ukraine and call on Ukraine to undertake a true, transparent review of its election process and results, and ensure that election results reflect the true democratic will as expressed by the Ukrainian people in the election.

If that means calling another election, then so be it. If those mistakes are so egregious that we cannot accept the results, then it may be that Ukraine will need to call another election. Hopefully that will be decided by the supreme court of Ukraine and hopefully that court will be sufficiently independent, and objective that its decision will be accepted by the people of Ukraine.

The one true test of democracy is a society's ability to conduct elections in a transparent, rules based fashion and in so doing, demonstrate to both its people and to the international audience that the true democratic will of its people has been reflected in the election results. When the process is so tainted that the very validity of the results are called into serious repute, the government has no choice but to conduct a full open and transparent review of its election process and undertake an election process that will reflect the true will of its people.

I, our government, and every member in the House call on Ukraine to do it.

UkraineEmergency Debate

8:15 p.m.


Andrew Telegdi Liberal Kitchener—Waterloo, ON

Madam Speaker, tonight's debate represents the very best in the House of Commons. In spite of our partisan differences, we have come together to stand up for what we see as human rights and human rights abuses that are taking place.

There was a debate in this chamber almost 48 years ago which centred on the Hungarian revolution. Unfortunately, at the time that the debate took place, the Hungarian revolution was already crushed by Soviet tanks. The person leading the debate was the Hon. Jack Pickersgill, the minister of citizenship and immigration. Some 25,000 people were killed. Hundreds of thousands were wounded and 200,000 people fled Hungary.

Having come to Canada as part of 40,000 refugees that were admitted to this country, I spent a good part of my adult life fighting for human rights, not just in Canada but also behind the Iron Curtain. I was part of a group called the black ribbon day committee. We were dreamers. We were people who came from former Iron Curtain countries and we dared to dream that some day the wall would come crumbling down.

That happened 14 or 15 years ago. Every one of us remembers the crumbling of the Berlin Wall. Everyone remembers when Ukraine gained its independence. Canada was the first country to officially recognize it and it is only proper that in this dark hour of the assault on democracy we as Canadians are at the forefront in fighting to set right what is taking place in Ukraine right now.

We all learned some Russian words. I know when I was a student I had to learn some and I hated it, but I loved hearing the Russian words: perestroika and glasnost. They meant the falling of the Soviet Union, where the system opened itself up, and emptied its gulags where it got rid of its political prisoners.

What we are seeing happen now is a return to the past. This is a test for all the nations in the free world, indeed the world itself. As we speak in this chamber, it is the middle of the night in Ukraine where it is getting close to morning. There are hundreds of thousands of people demonstrating with their orange colour hoping beyond hope that the world will not let their evolution into a democracy be crushed.

The government said that we will not recognize the results of this election. We will no doubt take whatever appropriate action is necessary. I cannot emphasize enough that we are not just going to take action against the Ukrainian government. We must challenge the Russian government itself because it has interfered in this election. Russian troops are at the borders. Russian troops have crushed revolutions in the past. This is a real test for the free world, a test for Russia itself on whether perestroika and glasnost still exist in the former Soviet Union.

We are speaking in concert with the rest of the free world. Everyone in the free world has condemned the elections. Beyond calling for investigations, we must ensure that the will of the people of Ukraine to elect their own government is respected. It means that we, in alliance with our western allies, as a member of the OSCE, as a member of NATO, and having friends in the European Union and the United Nations, must seize this opportunity to fight for democracy that will so much define the 21st century. If we fail, I despair not only for the people of Ukraine but for all those places that are still struggling to realize the fruits of democracy.

Our hopes and prayers are with the Ukrainian people. We are a country which has an abundance of people who have fled dictatorships. Many of them have come from a Soviet dictatorship. We stand in solidarity with our fellow Ukrainians in Canada. We stand in solidarity with Ukrainians in Ukraine.

I have learned that tomorrow at 3:00 there will be a demonstration on Parliament Hill and it will end with a march to the Ukrainian embassy. It will be calling for free democratic elections that are respected. This burden is not the burden of Ukrainians alone. This is a burden for everyone who believes in human rights, who believes in freedom, and who inhabits this very fragile planet.

UkraineEmergency Debate

8:20 p.m.


Diane Bourgeois Bloc Terrebonne—Blainville, QC

Madam Speaker, we are here this evening to discuss the serious breaches of democracy, irregularities and frauds that have been committed in connection with the election in Ukraine.

What is happening in that country in the aftermath of that election, the reactions of the other international actors, and the position Canada needs to take with respect to the recognition or non-recognition of a new government in Ukraine, are all aspects that absolutely must be discussed.

I would like to remind those listening of certain facts. Ukraine is a country that used to be part of the former Soviet Republic, and its retiring president is Mr. Kuchma.

An election was held, and a successor hand-picked to replace the retiring president, who had been at the head of the former Soviet republic since 1994. Even on the eve of the first round of polling for the presidential election which was held on October 31, 2004, the opposition candidate had raised the possibility of the election being neither free nor democratic.

The first ballot gave a slight lead to the designated candidate, and was judged by the international observers monitoring the election process not to comply with democratic standards.

It was a highly controversial election. The OSCE international election observation mission, with its 563 observers, has already found many irregularities in the vote held on November 21. The mission, I will remind the House, is made up of members of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe's Parliamentary Assembly, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, the European Parliament and the NATO Parliamentary Assembly.

The mission found a number of troubling matters: first, a suspiciously high turnout in some regions; multiple ballots based on presentation of absentee voting certificates; irregularities in the numbering of ballots; voters added to the lists at the last minute on election day; and finally, restrictions imposed on voters exercising their voting rights.

We saw the reactions from the European Union immediately. The Dutch presidency of the European Union, which is preparing to send a special emissary to Ukraine—a former ambassador—indicated at the time that the result of the Ukraine election would have to be reviewed, emphasizing that the 25 countries would not accept a fraudulent election. The Secretary General of NATO also demanded a recount. Finally, we know that the European Union was preparing to ask Ukraine to recount the votes in the presidential election.

The red warning light had already gone on in Europe. People were already realizing that there were irregularities and improprieties and were demanding changes.

Then the United States also reacted. The U.S. immediately made it known that it would not recognize the legitimacy of the election, saying that it was not too late for the authorities to find a solution that would respect the wishes of the Ukrainian people.

For several days now, thousands of people in the west of the country, where nationalists and the opposition prevail, have demonstrated in the streets against the electoral process.

U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell stated that the United States could not accept this result as legitimate, because it did not meet international standards and because there had not been any investigation of the numerous and credible reports of fraud and abuse. He also warned the Ukrainian leadership about the potential consequences of their actions for the two countries' relationship.

As for Canada's position, we know what it is. It was outlined this afternoon in the House of Commons, when the Deputy Prime Minister said that the Government of Canada could not accept that the announced results by the central election commission reflected the true democratic will of the Ukrainian people.

She added that Canada rejects the final results announced today and is calling for a full, open and transparent review of the election process. Finally, she said that Canada will have no choice but to examine its relations with Ukraine if the authorities fail to provide election results that reflect the democratic will of the people of that country.

We know what the people of this country want. It is obvious by the current reaction in every Ukrainian community in the world. They want to live in a democratic country where people have freedom of expression and choice. I think this is their basic right.

If power has been put into the hands of someone who rigged the election, or if the entire democratic process was mishandled, I think the international community has the right to take a stand.

The Bloc Québécois has always defended democracy. It has always said that democracy is extremely important. In our sovereignist history, we have had people like René Lévesque, who always put democracy first and gave us electoral systems that may not have been perfect but they were very sophisticated.

The Bloc Québécois proposes that since the whole world recognizes that fraud was committed, we cannot accept the election of either candidate. The government must demand an investigation—internationally secured under the auspices of the OSCE—into the fraud and the electoral process, with international observers, since we cannot rely on a commission or a government being accused of fraudulent action to guarantee an impartial and transparent investigation.

Should the Ukrainian government's response be unsatisfactory, Canada will have to re-evaluate its relations with Ukraine. Canada must demand an investigation with international guarantees, as this is the best way to prevent the situation from getting worse.

I remind hon. members that the Bloc Québécois supported the motion presented by a Liberal member to encourage Canada to ensure a transparent and democratic electoral process. The Bloc Québécois wants to offer its support to Ukrainians in Canada and Quebec and assure them of our full cooperation.

UkraineEmergency Debate

8:30 p.m.


Bonnie Brown Liberal Oakville, ON

Madam Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Edmonton—Strathcona.

Ukrainians are today living through a historic moment. The election was a great opportunity for Ukraine to show that it has developed into a fully democratic country. Unfortunately, the events we witnessed have made a mockery of that election. The problems that occurred were not minor, nor were they technical, and thus the international community has been led to conclude that they were a daring attempt by Ukrainian authorities to steal the election for their candidate, the current prime minister.

The list of electoral violations is long. Here are only some of the things that international monitors saw: fraudulent proxy voting; multiple voting; ballot box stuffing; violence, threats and intimidation against voters; voter list manipulation; and ballot box destruction and vandalism. These are only the most blatant examples of fraud that were reported by international observers, including Canadian observers.

In view of these many instances of serious and significant electoral fraud, Canada has announced that we cannot accept that the results announced today represent the democratic will of the Ukrainian people.

Before the election it became increasingly obvious that the opposition leader was the people's choice. No matter how much the government tried to undermine his campaign, he seemed to lead all credible polls leading up to the first round of voting on October 31.

During that round of voting only three weeks ago, we saw the same sort of fraud going on but not as much of it or as bad as what we witnessed this weekend. What was the result of the first round? The result was that Yushchenko was still the leading candidate, despite the fraud, even though local observers estimated that the government's actions had denied him about 5% of the vote.

The second round of voting saw even more blatant fraudulent practices, but this time the people's choice was thwarted. We cannot easily dismiss what we saw as technical problems. The irregularities I cited are neither minor nor technical; they are serious and significant.

The fraud we witnessed resulted in votes stolen in at least the hundreds of thousands but perhaps in the millions out of a total of approximately 25 million votes cast. The official result declaring Prime Minister Yanukovych the winner was a close one. This suggests, in fact, that if the authorities had not done what they did, opposition leader Yushchenko would have won by a wide margin. In fact, all the exit polls on election day showed Yushchenko winning the election by anywhere between 5% and 19%.

Canada has been a long-time friend of Ukraine and was the first western country to recognize its independence in 1991. We provide more than $18 billion in technical assistance through CIDA. The more than one million Canadians of Ukrainian origin provide financial, technical and emotional support to their relatives in their former homeland. Now more than ever, the people of Ukraine need to know that Canada and Canadians support them in this difficult time.

Canada has now said clearly that we cannot accept the final results announced today because they do not represent the democratic will of the people. I call on the Ukrainian authorities to investigate the many instances of fraud and I call on them to ensure that the results of the election reflect the true will of Ukrainian people. If they cannot accomplish this, perhaps they need another election. In this way, we hope that Ukraine continues on its path to democracy.

It is reassuring to note that more and more nations in the international community are drawing the same conclusion that Canada has drawn. Even this level of comment is unusual. There have been other elections which have seemed lacking, some in emerging countries just beginning democratic processes. At that time, little comment was made, but this level of international condemnation is unprecedented, probably because the world recognizes the aspirations of Ukrainians and their desire for true democracy.

As Canadians we still have to be careful on two fronts. We must try not to become too judgmental of others, because Canada would like to retain its reputation as a peace seeker and a broker of peaceful solutions between opposing views. We always act in a multilateral manner, as we are doing today, and we try to bring people together to find the middle ground.

As a nation of immigrants we also have to be careful that we focus on building our new country and that we not get too caught up or spend too much energy on the troubles of the very homelands that so many of us have fled.

Only if we focus on our future as Canadians and the building of this country will we provide the peaceful and prosperous future we all want for our children and their children.

UkraineEmergency Debate

8:40 p.m.


David Kilgour Liberal Edmonton—Beaumont, AB

Madam Speaker, it is difficult to overstate the importance of the election that has just taken place in Ukraine.

In the media the current contest has been portrayed as a geopolitical struggle with the result set to determine whether Ukraine continues to move toward integration with Europe and the democratic world or whether it pulls back from this engagement and is slowly re-absorbed into Russia's sphere of influence as part of the east.

There is no doubt this is an important element of what is occurring right now. Certainly it helps to explain the inexcusable interference in Ukraine's domestic affairs by President Putin, something I condemned when I was in Kiev on November 4, as did other members of our caucus.

When we think like this, however, we tend to lose sight of the real stakes, which are democracy, dignity, freedom and better lives for the 50 million people of Ukraine and their right to determine on their own terms the national future that they most desire.

Today Ukraine is at a critical juncture in its modern history with this election standing as a potential turning point. Since independence in 1991, Ukraine has made steady progress toward greater prosperity and democracy, to the point that organizations such as Freedom House and their annual country rankings list the degree of freedom experienced in Ukraine today as more approximate to countries like Turkey than it is to its immediate neighbour, Russia.

If the results of this stolen election are allowed to stand, this admirable progression will be reversed and the cause of human dignity in Ukraine will be set back years or even, terribly, decades.

There can be no doubt in the mind of any member of the House that the elections in Ukraine were stolen. I will just give two examples of the massive fraud that h was perpetrated over the course of the election right from the first round of voting a few weeks ago.

Some voters in eastern Ukraine, the stronghold of the incumbent prime minister, voted in the morning in their own resident polls and then were bussed to Kiev and other locations to vote again, sometimes more than once, using absentee ballots.

The following is the worst that I have heard. The Donets'k oblast is reported to have recorded a voter turnout of over 99%, 19% higher than the national average and well beyond the normal deviation from the mean. It is alleged at the time the balloting closed that the recorded turnout was only 74%, meaning that 843,000 voters were added after the balloting ended.

Canada's response to the situation is of the utmost importance and must be designed carefully. We must ensure that our response is more than a visceral reaction against an appalling, wholesale ballot stuffing, but that it actually serves to advance the cause of democracy in Ukraine which I have called often one of the founding countries of modern Canada.

This is critical. No one who has seen the pictures at the rallies in Independence Square in Kiev can doubt that there is a strong and determined democratic movement there that will not be defeated by scoundrel's and oligarchs, and they will not go quietly or meekly back to another darker day in the country's history.

Whatever we do now as a nation and as a government should be designed to support those democrats for they are the future of Ukraine whether the current leadership of that country accepts it willingly or not.

What then must be done? Rejecting the announced results is a good beginning but we must do more. The people's president, Viktor Yushchenko, has called on Ukrainian democrats to assemble in Kiev and continue to assemble en masse until the results are overturned. Momentum is building.

Like many members, I receive e-mails from people in Ukraine. One, until two weeks ago, was an intern here in our Parliament. The first message she sent came immediately after the election was stolen and people were gathering in Kiev and around the country. The subject line of her message was “It is beginning”. She was talking about a revolution in Ukrainian politics on the line of Czechoslovakia's Velvet Revolution. She said that she was not defeated but inspired.

Yesterday she sent an e-mail and said that there were reports that members of the Ukrainian special armed forces had been seen wearing orange arm bands, signifying support for Yushchenko. Indeed it has begun but it is not too late for it to be stopped. There are disturbing and, frankly, terrifying reports that Prime Minister Yanukovich has released busloads of criminals from jails who may well be armed. Presumably this has been done to disperse the crowds peaceful demonstrators and create disorder.

This may be to create a pretext for unleashing the power of the Ukrainian, and perhaps even the Russian, army on the people, the democrats, who are gathered in Kiev.

Violence in this situation would compound exponentially the tragedy of these elections. Canada must speak loudly and clearly to Ukraine and the world to say that we will not tolerate the use of force to suppress the peaceful protest that is currently going on. We must back up our words with action.

Canada should immediately dispatch war observers to Ukraine to monitor the situation firsthand so that we may bear witness to anything that may happen in the important days to follow. We should encourage other countries to do the same.

We must also use our diplomats who are there to directly and forcefully tell the Governments of Ukraine and Russia that we are watching their actions closely and that no violence will be tolerated.

In doing this, we must be clear that our quarrel is not with the people of Ukraine but with the corrupt leadership that has illegitimately subverted the will of a population. In practical terms, this means that we must build bridges quickly with the democrats who are leading the struggle for change in Ukraine, as we did in South Africa during apartheid and elsewhere. We must let them know that we are in solidarity with them and urging them to success at this important time.

If the announced result of this election is not overturned and the government of Ukraine insists on carrying through with this theft to the last moment, every aspect of our relationship with the government of Ukraine must be examined. I hope this would include expressing an ironclad determination to hold all officials who perpetrated or benefited from this fraud and theft personally responsible for what has occurred and to enact targeted sanctions against them as a result.

The situation in Ukraine is very fluid right now as everybody here knows. We should not focus too much on an uncertain and unhappy future when we still have the opportunity to produce a correct and just result today.

I am grateful that the Government of Canada has seen the wisdom of rejecting the announced results. I call upon it and all of us as concerned Canadians to act quickly, to act decisively and to act firmly to ensure that there are brighter days ahead for our friends, families and allies in Ukraine.

UkraineEmergency Debate

8:45 p.m.


Tom Lukiwski Conservative Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, SK

Mr. Speaker, I do not have any prepared notes. I am just going to speak from my heart and say what I feel.

I also want to say to all hon. members that I believe this is one of the first times, if not the only time, on which all of us in this chamber tonight are in agreement on an issue. It is undeniable that there has been some egregious behaviour. Some things that have been done in Ukraine need to be undone. I think for the first time we can count on all members of this chamber to stand and speak the truth because we all believe that we know the truth.

In this case it is undeniable. The truth is that there was an election in Ukraine that was not held fairly or equally. It did not represent the voters' will. It did not represent those people in Ukraine who wanted to see a true democracy and a true democratic election.

I should say that I come from Ukrainian stock. My grandfather immigrated to Canada in the early 1900s. My father and I were born in this country. I am proud to say that I am Ukrainian but I do not really have any knowledge of what it is like to be a citizen of the Ukraine. I am starting to get a sense of that now because I see what has happened in the homeland of my grandfather, a part of the world for which I still feel very strongly and to which I feel connected in some manner.

I must say that this is one of the most egregious and blatant manipulations of the electoral process that I have seen in recent democratic history. We have seen actions taken by those in power currently in the Ukraine that defy description. If the actions that we have seen taken in Ukraine to manipulate the results of its election were taken in any other western country or any other democratic country, the outrage would be worldwide. I think we will see that outrage eventually.

Let me try to recapture some of the things that we know happened during the recent Ukraine elections. If one lives in a western civilization or in a country, a province or a state that is used to having elections, whether or not we like the results we trust the election officials. We know that from time to time there may be a slight irregularity but we trust the results.

I only have to look back to the recent U.S. elections where so many people were disappointed with the election results. Did the people say that the election was rigged? Did they rebel on the streets? Did they take to arms? No, because they know that inherently the electoral system in most democracies, certainly within the western world, is inherently fair. Just because we do not like the results does not mean that the elections were not conducted fairly, honestly and above board.

However that was not the case in the latest Ukraine elections. Let us take a look at some of the things that happened. For anyone who sits in this assembly and who has been through elections on many different levels for years and years, it is almost unfathomable, almost unbelievable that some of these things could happen but they did.

We have reports, as one example, that when the results of one poll were tallied the results were 3,000 to 0 for one of the candidates. That cannot happen. That is undeniably fraudulent because in no election in any corner of the world will we ever find, in any poll in a democratic election, a result like that, yet it happened in Ukraine. The government in power is saying that it was legitimate, fair and honest. It is saying that it does not want the results overturned and certainly does not want any kind of an independent review because that poll result might be questioned.

A review may also question things such as military police at polling stations questioning potential voters and turning away potential voters. A review may question things like military police and other officials talking to students and offering them bribes, such as free tuition or money in exchange for their vote for the right candidate. Those are but a few examples of what happened in this election.

My hon. colleague across the floor has just come back from observing what happened in Ukraine. One of our colleagues, the hon. member for Edmonton East, is currently there. It does not matter from which political ideology we come. Every member from every party from whom I have heard, whether it be in this country, south of the border or in European countries, has come back with the same stories. This election was a sham.

I believe there is only one thing that can force the current administration into accepting and agreeing to an independent review. That is with unanimity worldwide. We need all leaders, not only of the free world but in every country, small or large, to stand up and say that they are offended by the blatant abuse of power to try to overturn the democratic will of a people who want to elect a democratic government.

I was truly proud of the Prime Minister's words today. I do not see eye to eye with the Prime Minister or members opposite on many issues, and that is fair. However, I was proud of the words of the Prime Minister, even though he could not be here today, that we, the Canadian people, would not accept the results of this election.

I was proud of not only the members opposite but every member of the House regardless of political affiliation who stood up as one and applauded the Prime Minister's words. I believe that across this great country of ours we all agree with one thing: the democratic right to elect governments is something we should never take lightly and it is something that should be enshrined, as it is, in our Constitution.

When we see abuses throughout the world, we must stand as one and say no, that we will not accept the results. Not that it is for us to say who should be the winner, because it is not. It is the right of the Ukraine people to determine the winner. However, we should stand up when we see obvious and blatant attempts to overturn the democratic principles of an election. That is what this assembly has done and that is why I am so proud of every member of this assembly, because we spoke in unison. We said that we would not accept this. Quite frankly, I hope the Prime Minister and members opposite do not say this because it is topical, relevant and timely.

If this matter continues to carry on over weeks, months and close to a year and there is still no resolve with appointing an independent judicial review or independent review to determine whether this election in Ukraine was held in a proper manner, I hope the members opposite and their leader will continue to press the Ukraine government and every other leader of the free world and every industrialized nation to stand up and say no, that they will not accept what happened in the Ukraine. If that happens, then I truly will be one of the happiest Ukrainian Canadians in the world.

I will be splitting my time with the hon. member for Saskatoon—Humboldt. I should have said that at the outset.

In conclusion, everyone in a democracy should understand that the right to vote is one of the most inalienable rights people have and a right that we should take seriously. I am very concerned that in Canada the level of voter turnout in federal, provincial and municipal elections has gone down because people think for one reason or another it does not matter. It does matter.

We only need to look at what has happened in Ukraine to understand that the right to vote in a democracy is one of the greatest rights and responsibilities of every citizen of every country. We must stand up as one and protect the rights of the people in Ukraine to exercise their democratic right and their democratic will.

UkraineEmergency Debate

8:55 p.m.


Bradley Trost Conservative Saskatoon—Humboldt, SK

Mr. Speaker, it is an important issue that we deal with tonight. As I begin my speech, let me first say that it will not be Churchillian eloquence. It will not be another cross of gold. It will be a speech, as my hon. colleague said, from the heart.

First, tonight, as I rise to address this question, I want to address ultimately why we have the right as Canadians, not as citizens of the Ukraine, not as people directly involved, to address this issue and speak on why we have the moral imperative, the duty, to deal with this issue.

What we are talking about tonight is a fundamental issue, an issue that we must not let rest, an issue that is more than just of concern to Canadians of Ukrainian descent, but is of concern to all Canadians who believe in freedom.

We in this country have a government based upon unalienable rights, rights that are not derived because of our ethnicity, our class, our gender or our country of birth, but rights, that are, as I said, inalienable, rights that are an endowment at birth. Specifically, we have the rights to life, liberty and property, and these are not just for Canadians. We, as Canadians, believe they are the rights of the whole world.

That is why we must address this issue in Ukraine because the inalienable rights of the citizens of Ukraine have been deprived. The citizens of Ukraine have had their inalienable right to liberty deprived, inalienable rights to speak freely, to address the problems of their nation and to a free and open democratic election.

It is not for us to choose sides. Let me emphasize and reiterate, tonight not one member of the House is calling for one candidate or another to be elected. We are calling clearly and eloquently, we are calling with singleness of voice for a free election, for an open accounting.

We must look at the evidence. We must look to decide if has it been free and fair. From all reports coming out of Ukraine, I think it is clear it has not been.

Having personal acquaintances and friends of the family who live there, may I draw on some of their recollections and advice. In specific, let me read a letter my office received just the other day from an acquaintance in Ukraine. I will take the liberty to adjust and disguise a few of the features of the letter for security purposes. For the record, this is what they are facing in the country.

Ukraine is swayed in demonstrations of protest against the unlawful results of the runoff election. The level of violations is just immense and unthinkable.

As this writer notes, look at the website, for English translation of some of irregularities that have been noted.

The writer continues:

In short, the pro-government candidate...won according to the official data from the Central Election Commission (the head of which was drunk!!! during election night). And violations are unprecedented--people voting several times using absentee ballots, the observers from the opposition and international observers were not let into polling stations on the East and South of Ukraine. 7 boxes with ballots were set on fire in the Lviv region alone!!!

In Kyiv ballots were destroyed by throwing acid in the voting boxes on several polling stations. Many Yushchenko observers were beaten up on the East. Level of people requesting to vote from home due to health reasons rose between 200% to 500% on polling stations of all the regions, which points to either an abnormal health deterioration or obvious violation.

The writer of the letter also notes that 99% of these votes went for one candidate. It is amazing. The writer continues:

Turnout rates on some of the polling stations was 105% (all of those on the lists + those using absentee ballots). 96% turnout rate in [one] region [home of one of the candidates]--there have never been anything like this before, even in Soviet times!!! Also several notes of bombs being planted were registered--none of them was true.

The author was volunteering during the election night, helping to put the election information site together. They were cut off from electricity for two hours. There were three polling stations in their area. They experienced information blocks from the east since 11 p.m.

The writer continues:

All the exit polls show a Yushchenko victory with a gap of between 5 to 11% (depending on the exit poll). Situation as of 10 pm on Monday in Ukraine: more than 300,000 people gathered on the central street of Kyiv to protest the official...returns holding orange stripes and banners (colour of Yushchenko).

Demonstrations are held in the most of the cities; in Lviv yesterday... more than 100,000 people were protesting...Buses are heading to Kyiv from all over Ukraine to support those standing in Kyiv, despite all the hedges on their way...

I believe the author is saying problems and encumbrances, but with limited English expressed it that way. The writer goes on:

--(tires are punctured by little things thrown around on the road leading to Kyiv, cars and buses are not let into the city, and yet they go there; several mayor city and oblast city councils pronounced Yushchenko [the second candidate] as legitimate president of Ukraine.

Ukrainian elections didn't meet any democratic standards, they were condemned by the EU and the USA. Now we truly need the help of international community.

Today Yushchenko was sworn in as the new president in some areas. Yanikovych gang did not agree, 1.5 million people are on the streets of Kyiv, many more ALL the regions of Ukraine.

I think that's enough of the information as for right now. Just wanted to brief you on what is going on, it is important that information flows to other countries.

That is direct evidence from an eye witness, an eye witness now observing the irregularities and the problems in the Ukraine, a witness demonstrating the severity of the problem there.

I am ultimately most concerned about this problem because it is a violation of the inalienable rights of the citizens of Ukraine. For those who know the history of Ukraine, it is a sad thing that they have had their rights violated again and again.

We have seen the famines that Stalin imposed upon the nation in the thirties. The Russian-Soviet civil war was most severe in the Ukraine with the red, white and green armies all fighting for control of it and then the ravages of the Second World War. This is a country that needs the world's help in defending its inalienable rights. It has had its rights violated repeatedly through the course of history.

Let me note the final reason why I care so deeply about what happens in that country. I spent time there. I spent Christmas there and I have friends there, real people who I know. I care for them. We as Canadians must all care for them, even the ones we do not know.

As someone whose grandmother was born in the region of Chortiza, south Ukraine, I can envision the territory having personally visited it and having talked with the people. All Canadians, not just Canadians whose ancestors were born in the Ukraine, care deeply about this election. We care deeply because we believe in the rule of law, representative of responsible government. We care deeply and believe that it is their absolute right.

I have been most gladdened and heartened to hear the unanimity of the House, standing behind the Ukrainian people and their quest for freedom. I call on all members not to tire of the efforts we must put forward in the next days, weeks and perhaps next months to call for and urge for what we can do to have Ukraine continue and grow to be free. I call on all members to continue, both in the government and the opposition, to unite as Canadians, Canadians who stand for freedom, not just in Canada but in Ukraine. I call for an open and free count of the votes in Ukraine, an open and free election, and I call on Canada to support it.

UkraineEmergency Debate

9:05 p.m.


Ken Boshcoff Liberal Thunder Bay—Rainy River, ON

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the hon. member for Etobicoke—Lakeshore.

At the end of World War I, my mother, a very young girl, and her family left the province of Galicia in Ukraine and boarded a vessel. They went to England to be processed. They eventually found themselves in Fort William, now known as the City of Thunder Bay. She and thousands of families of Ukrainian and Polish ancestry started their new lives in this country of their choosing.

My mother's future husband, as it turned out, quite romantically was also on that very same boat. He, a strapping lad of 14 who left Bulgaria and walked across Europe at the end of the war, and she, a young girl of 10, actually did not meet until 10 years later. I can only imagine the sparks when they found out that they had come to this new land together on the same boat.

People such as these built this country. Literally, our ancestors, these immigrants, completed and expanded our railways. They laboured on our first transcontinental highway. They came here to a better life and they built this country.

Eighty-five years after they left, Eastern Europe discovered the world of democracy, which blessed many countries after the fall of the Berlin Wall. It has been brief and the road has not been so smooth, but countries such as Ukraine have embraced the democratic route, as awkward and as cumbersome as it sometimes may seem. But they have made it.

Canada was the first country to recognize Ukraine as a new nation, only a very few years ago, and today we must be the first nation to stand with our democratic cousins.

Canadians all over our nation are encouraged by the show of solidarity demonstrated tonight in this House. It confirms that although we argue sometimes over the fine points and sometimes over other points, when it comes to survival of the democratic process we will stand together.

It is very difficult not to get emotional over the precarious brinkmanship occurring at this very moment in Ukraine. It is actually quite frightening. That is because each and every one of us shares the benefits of the Ukrainian legacy and heritage in this country. We are familiar with it. We are bonded with it.

Ukrainian culture in Canada is as fundamental to our way of life as breath itself. The spiritual and the artistic contributions are significant. We all love the food, the dances and the music. These are all things we have grown to love. Our work ethic, compassion and pride in nationhood, all of these are gifts of people of Ukrainian descent. And now they need us.

Tonight this House stands united. It is a very proud moment in Canadian democracy. Our beacon of unity must shine on those threatened with having their power cut off, with having their water supply ended, with their transit system stopped, with all of those amenities that we take for granted now in very precarious brinkmanship and in freezing weather. Democracy truly is very much at risk.

This is our time as Canadians. It is so pleasant to see this House, each and every speaker and all four parties speaking with one voice, reinforcing each other and standing strong. In my community and my riding, in the Ukrainian presence, everyone is feeling the same anxiety as we are, whether it be in the churches, in the community halls or the organizations, again, the societies that helped to build this country, each and every one of those organizations is feeling this stress.

Tonight we have this opportunity to make the strongest possible statement. I am very glad that we can see people standing together to do so.

Today the Deputy Prime Minister did not speak only for the government from the standpoint of the fact that all members of the House rose to applaud her statement. Her words are certainly worth repeating, because they really do emphasize the Canadian position. The Deputy Prime Minister said:

Considering the allegations of serious and significant electoral fraud from international and Canadian election observers, the Government of Canada cannot accept that the announced results by the central election commission reflect the true democratic will of the Ukrainian people. Therefore Canada rejects the announced final results.

The Government of Canada calls for a full, open and transparent review of the election process. Canada will have no choice but to examine its relations with Ukraine if the authorities fail to provide election results that reflect the democratic will of the people of that country.

In summary, before I turn this time over to the hon. member for Etobicoke--Lakeshore, let me say that this is our moment to reflect. It is also Canada's moment to commence a whole series of actions that will reflect the needs of those people over the ocean. They are looking to us for help. I know we will not fail them. Canada will be there for Ukraine.

UkraineEmergency Debate

9:10 p.m.


Jean Augustine Liberal Etobicoke—Lakeshore, ON

Mr. Speaker, I too want to speak tonight in this emergency debate on the situation in Ukraine. I want to take the opportunity to speak directly to my constituents in their community centres, their credit unions and their community churches, and to all those who care very deeply about Ukraine and the Ukrainian community. They are saddened and concerned at this particular time, as we are in this House.

I also want to compliment all the members on all sides of the House who today stood in solidarity. Not very often in the House do we have members from all parties on all sides of the House agreeing on one specific issue.

We have given some clear messages. There are four key messages from us: first, we cannot accept the election results as announced by Ukraine's central election commission; second, the Canadian government has called for a full investigation of the results of the Ukrainian election; third, we believe that no announcement of a winner should be made before that full investigation has happened; and last, Canada has no choice but to examine its relations with Ukraine if the authorities are unable to demonstrate that the result of the election reflects the democratic will of the people.

Looking at those four key messages as delivered today by our Deputy Prime Minister saddens me even more, simply because whatever the sanctions, diplomatic, economic or otherwise, they will affect people on the ground. They will affect individuals who had aspirations, who had hopes for a democratic future for themselves, their children and their country.

The election was indeed seriously flawed. Tonight member after member gave us evidence of that.

To those with relatives and friends who are on the streets of Ukraine at this time, who are standing up and protesting what has happened, who are calling for an opportunity to live in a democracy, to those relatives and friends we say to them that as Canadians we stand with them.

We want to see that peaceful transition. We want to see that better future for them. We want to see freedom and justice, so we as Canadians cannot be silent. We must act. We must respond. We must work with all democratic forces in the international community to bring about the kind of resolution that each and every one of those individuals wants for themselves and for their country. It is important that we see the alliances with the OSCE, NATO, the UN, the EU and the U.S. and that the international community comes together in a strong response to the present situation.

Over the many years that I have been in this place, I have had Ukrainian students come from universities in the Ukraine to spend time or do internships in my office. They are young people who come here and ask questions and explore all the possibilities among us so that on their return to their colleges, their jobs, their places in society, they can in turn share the Canadian experience. We were building and working together to ensure that future in a democratic Ukraine.

When we ask for a full, open, transparent review, it is precisely what those words are, full, open and transparent. It is important for us and for all those who believe in democracy to ensure that a full, open, transparent review takes place. Tonight several members have said that this must not be just words, that action, determination and consistency must follow the commitment that we made today.

There are the sentiments expressed by all of us in the House and the courage shown by the people who are on the streets and who are standing up right now, and the support of all of our communities. We must work in such a way that we see a fast resolution to the current situation.

We watch conflicts in other areas. We are at a point in our history where we encourage people to resolve conflict and problems without bloodshed. It is the hope of all of us that there will be a resolution with no loss of lives, no bloodshed and no disruption in that society beyond what we have seen today.

Let us work with all of our communities in Canada. Let us continue to ensure that our commitment for that open transparent review does take place. Let us commit ourselves to help Ukraine move into a fair, just, democratic society, which is where it was heading. We hope it will continue to progress to that.

We have no choice but to examine our relations. As we talk about that examination, my thoughts go to the men, women and children on the ground. Canada cannot turn its back. Canada cannot allow the suffering of individuals in Ukraine. Economic sanctions, diplomatic sanctions, whatever they are, will hurt the ordinary individuals, which is something most people would not want to happen.

Again, I call on all those at this point in time to listen to Canada, to listen to the voice of the international community and ensure that there is a just, fair, open and transparent review.

UkraineEmergency Debate

9:20 p.m.


Alexa McDonough NDP Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, I want to indicate at the outset that I intend to share my time with the member for Timmins--James Bay.

I want to begin as my colleagues have done throughout this debate by thanking and congratulating the member for Etobicoke Centre for bringing forward tonight's motion. This is one of those rare occasions when there is a high degree of consensus, what would appear to be near unanimity, among all parliamentarians. This is a moment in history when we are bound together and share in common cause a responsibility to take a stand and do so in solidarity with the people who need our support.

Canadian Ukrainians and all Canadians have good reason to be worried about the situation that is unfolding in Ukraine. Just a short while ago Viktor Yushchenko, the Ukrainian opposition leader, called for a national strike after the country's Central Electoral Commission declared his rival, Viktor Yanukovych, the incumbent prime minister, the winner of last weekend's disputed presidential election.

Speaking to hundreds of thousands of his supporters at a mass rally in the streets of Kiev, Mr. Yushchenko rejected the Central Electoral Commission verdict saying that it put Ukraine “on the path to civil war”. Mr. Yushchenko's ally urged that the crowds avoid violence, to wrest power at the local, district and regional levels, that the situation was grave. However President Leonid Kuchma has made the situation worse still by accusing the opposition of preparing “to throw their own people into a bloody fratricidal whirlpool for the sake of power”.

The world simply cannot sit by without signalling its strong displeasure at last weekend's election farce. As the first nation in the world to recognize Ukraine after it split from the former Soviet Union, Canada made the right decision today to refuse to lend legitimacy to the farcical election outcome.

Tonight's parliamentary debate reflects Canadians' concerns with an election that violates the Ukrainian people's right to a fair and transparent election process. Today we join the European Commission and the United States in signalling our rejection of that election outcome.

Years ago the global community, spurred on by Canada, came together and said no to South Africa's apartheid. Canadians are justly proud of the role that we played in bringing about an end to that brutal, vicious apartheid regime. The global pressure that built led to the end of apartheid and the democratization of that proud country today.

When the global community comes together within a multilateral context and speaks with one voice on the need to bring forth open and transparent democracy, that pressure can and will be felt.

Ukraine is not immune from such pressure. We have an opportunity here and in the global community to press for true democracy in that country before the situation disintegrates into further instability and civil strife. We owe it to Ukrainian Canadians here at home who are deeply worried about the future of their homeland. We owe it to the majority of Canadians who believe, as I and my colleagues do, that true democracy is absolutely critical to achieve equality and justice for all citizens.

Regrettably my colleague from Churchill was right earlier this evening when she said that sometimes the government has a history of being strong on rhetoric but not so strong in following through with deeds. This is an important test. Canada's rejection of the Ukrainian election results must not end here with tonight's debate. Parliamentarians from all political parties will be looking to see exactly what consequences Canada will impose to signal our rejection of those results.

I want briefly to share the following true story with my colleagues in the House this evening.

A constituent of mine came to Nova Scotia from Lebanon 24 years ago while that country was still in the midst of its devastating civil war. He was a young teenager at the time. Years later at the age of 18 he made a decision to join a political party in Canada, and it was not my political party at the time.

Upon hearing that news, his grandmother, who was on a visit to Canada at the time, literally broke down in tears and became hysterical, begging him not to involve himself in the political process. She was absolutely convinced that it would lead to nothing but penalties and punishment and even believed in the possibility that it could lead to his untimely death. Such had been her experience in Lebanon.

I am proud to stand in the House and say that today, that young man is my parliamentary assistant. He is working passionately to try to support the quest and the pursuit of democracy and free, fair and transparent elections everywhere in the world where we can have even the tiniest bit of influence.

Democracy, hon. colleagues, is not as prevalent as we hope and dream it should be. No one wants to see the situation in Ukraine disintegrate into violence and bloodshed as it has in many regions of the world. There is no reason to believe that civil disobedience by those who reject the results of this fraudulent election will inevitably lead to or result in violence. But do we want to do nothing, hoping against hope that there will be no violence? I think not.

We must stand in solidarity with Ukrainians who are exercising their democratic right to protest. We must work to ensure that their courage is rewarded. We must let them know by our debate here tonight but more important by our deeds that will follow that they are not alone. We must take action to ensure that one day, sooner rather than later, they will wake up in a democratic Ukraine. Canada can help. We are in a position to help. Therefore, we are bound to help.

As parliamentarians who enjoy the privilege and benefits of living in a democracy, we have a responsibility to roll up our sleeves and work with the international community to find ways to ensure that the abomination of the democratic process that happened last weekend in Ukraine is reversed and never happens in that country again.

UkraineEmergency Debate

9:30 p.m.


Charlie Angus NDP Timmins—James Bay, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is a great honour to speak to the motion brought forth by the hon. member, who I like to say sits up here in the cheap seats with us. I have seen his commitment and passion for this issue. To see it brought forth to the floor so quickly is a real testament to the House.

It is an honour to be in Canada, being the grandchild of immigrants. My grandmother was a mining widow in Timmins and we spent our summers in the graveyard because that is where the widows went. They were all immigrant women. I grew up with an understanding of Canadian history that was not in the books because we spent our days in the graveyard, big long fields of the dead, and old women would walk among the graves.

Row after row were Ukrainian and Yugoslavian names. The men were all dead by the age of 41. That was a fact of life in the mining camps of Timmins, Kirkland Lake and Sudbury. They died of silicosis. In every one of those families, their children ended up becoming schoolteachers, doctors or lawyers because the first generation that came here, who lived hard and died hard in very difficult conditions, knew that their children could have a better life. The families that I know who came from that are what made Canada what it is today. It is a real testament to what we are looking at in terms of the situation in Ukraine.

As a new member, I am new at so many things. One of the very first things I found myself dealing with was the issue of interns. It happened very soon after I got in my office. There was a young woman from Ukraine who came to work for us who could hardly speak English on her first day. I remember when I first met her, how committed those young people from Ukraine were on this trip. They followed us around to what sometimes seemed like long and pointless meetings.

They would sit up in the gallery and watch us. Sometimes we are not the most dignified place, and sometimes I wonder what exactly we accomplish here, but I realized that they believed. They believed that this House could teach them something to bring back with them. They believed that this parliamentary system worked. They believed perhaps more than a lot of our own young people.

Night after night when I would come back to the office, I would hear about what was happening in Ukraine because of the concerns they had about the democratic elections, and whether they were going to be able to reproduce it there. In our business here we are so busy we do not have a chance to sit and talk. I remember the interns talking again and again about this upcoming election. I think of them now because they are back in Ukraine. What are they taking from the experience they saw here?

There are days when we sit here in the House, four parties. We have one party that is dedicated to breaking up the country. We have at least four parties that have sometimes very different views on where we should be going. There are days when we are not the most dignified and there are days the insults are hurled, but this is a place where the whole country can trust that we can come and debate. Sometimes that might not seem like a great amount, but it is a fundamental of human society. We have a forum where we can come despite our political differences and work together.

What we are called to do at a moment like this is to witness. We are at a crucial moment in history. The Ukrainian community is looking for support around the world. They are looking, at a time of great crisis, for democracies like Canada to stand with them. I feel very proud to stand in the House and see the unanimity that exists between all parties on this issue because it does not matter what our particular views are on spending, saving or tax cuts. We are agreed on the right to free and open debate. It is a fundamental of our society and it is a fundamental of the human condition.

I am very honoured to be part of a system that respects that. We must do everything we can as a Parliament. We must make it as clear as we can on the international stage that we support the people of Ukraine for a free and democratic society. That is their right; that is what they voted for. That is what they are looking for and we must stand with them.

UkraineEmergency Debate

9:35 p.m.


Maria Minna Liberal Beaches—East York, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak with a heavy heart about something that is very sad. It is the irregularities in the election in Ukraine. My heart goes out to the citizens of Ukraine tonight who are either in their homes or out in the squares demanding their rights.

When I was minister of international cooperation, I had the privilege of visiting Ukraine. I found a country that was full of promise and hope. As we know, Canada has had for a long time and continues to have a special relationship with Ukraine. Meeting with officials, while I was there, showed me a society that was working very hard to rebuild, a society full of promise, and a society and a government working together for the future.

Canada's programs were working very hard in partnership with the Ukrainian people to strengthen the governance structures, institutions and civil society structures. I found a country with enormous potential, a country that had a very highly educated population, but also a country that was in need of reform of its institutions. We as Canadians worked very closely with the Ukrainian people.

Canada was involved in helping Ukraine write and create for the first time its civil law, which was not part of the Ukrainian experience up until then. We were involved in working very closely with the Ukrainian government and other organizations to work with land reform in the agriculture field. There was a tremendous amount of work to be done there because Ukrainian farms have the potential of being the bread basket of Europe and of the world, and the Ukrainian people know that.

We were sharing the knowledge that we had from our farmers in the agricultural community with the Ukrainian people to reform and build a very modern agricultural industry in Ukraine. These are very positive things that were happening in Ukraine. The work and partnerships that we had are continuing.

As I said before, the population of Ukraine is well educated and is on its way to building a very modern, strong economy, and to becoming a strong partner in the World Trade Organization, the European market, et cetera. It is all the more saddening this evening to have to talk about the setback in the democratic process of Ukraine, which could put all of these successes at risk. I hope and pray that none of this in fact will come to pass.

I am also thinking tonight of the young people who have been interns in my office and for many of my colleagues here for the last 11 years. I believe there are well over 300 of them at this point who have come to Canada and spent three or four months with us. In the last election some of them worked on our campaigns to learn about the democratic process in this country.

They worked side by side with our office staff just recently to learn about the democratic process, about our institutions, how our legislative process works, how our judiciary works, and to learn all of the things they wanted to take back with them. There was so much hope and pride in these young people. They were going to be the future of their country. They are the future of their country. They went back with such hope, vision and enthusiasm.

Before the last group left only a few weeks ago, some of them said they were going back to organize and work hard for their country, to make a difference. They were the generation that was going to make the difference in their country. I am thinking of these young people tonight. Some of them, I am sure, are out there as well fighting for their country and the democracy that they love and believe in.

I call on the leadership of Ukraine not to blow out the light that has been burning bright in that country, but to allow it to continue to burn bright, and to do the right thing and allow for a transparent review of the electoral process. Democracy is a very difficult and fragile thing. We cannot allow for it to be diminished because without it we are all diminished. The rule of law must be respected because without it we have no hope. There are no human rights and there is no respect for humanity.

I encourage and I ask the Ukrainian government tonight to respect the human rights of its people, the demonstrators that are out there in the street, not to do anything that would harm or hurt them in any way but to listen to their voices. They are the voices of democracy. They are the voices of their country. They are the voices of tomorrow. Listen to them and do the right thing. Open up the transparent process and do not declare a winner until such time as a proper transparent review of the process has been taken.

Not too long ago we took time on Remembrance Day, November 11, to remember the people who died and fought for the rights of freedom and democracy, and to give that privilege to all of us. In that war, many Ukrainians as well lost their lives in the big fight.

We remember November 11 and we keep saying “Lest we forget”. Tonight I want to remind the government of Ukraine that we must never forget. We must never go back. People who fought hard for democracy and for the respect of the rule of law must be listened to.

I also want to call on the UN. It is important that the United Nations visit Ukraine. I think it needs to send representatives to Ukraine to meet with the leadership of Ukraine, and discuss the situation and the crisis that is taking place in that country right now.

We must not allow it to escalate. We must have a dialogue with the leadership of Ukraine. I would recommend to the UN and to the House that the leadership of the UN take the initiative at this particular time because without the involvement of the multilateral institutions, each one of us can do our best, but we are strongest when we are united.

We want to send the message to the Ukrainian people that we love them, that we care for them, that we respect them, and that we want them to be prosperous. We want them to continue down the road that they have started to work with us as partners, to build a fantastic future for themselves in a country that is free, a country that is full of democracy, and a country that has a tremendous amount of hope and promise. It is all there. Ukraine is on the verge of becoming one of the most successful countries. It has all of the ingredients that are needed.

When I was there, I can tell the House that the people I met with were very active and extremely involved with the development of their country. Those things cannot be lost because if they take a step back it will be a long time before they get back to where they are and it would be such a sad situation.

Tonight my message is for the leadership of Ukraine to respect its citizens, to not announce the results of the election, but to allow for an open and transparent review of the situation. My message is also for the United Nations, to please send emissaries immediately to open a dialogue to ensure that there is a discussion as opposed to a show of force of any sort.

It is extremely important that our multilateral institutions act right now. We do not want what happened in the past and that is why we remember November 11 every year. It is a very sad time for me when I think of the millions of people who lost their lives to give us the freedom of speech that we have in the House today, the freedom that the world has today, and the freedom that Ukrainians have today.

Therefore, I ask again that the UN send emissaries and representatives to Ukraine to start a dialogue immediately so that we can discuss and work our way through this as intelligent people.

UkraineEmergency Debate

9:45 p.m.


John Maloney Liberal Welland, ON

Mr. Speaker, Canada's Parliament is holding an emergency debate tonight on the issue of the Ukraine election. I am participating in tonight's debate because all Canadians, especially my constituents in the riding of Welland, are concerned about the international ramifications of these events.

Let us not forget that Canada was the first country to acknowledge Ukraine's independence in 1991. These last few days the events which have taken place see Ukraine slipping back into a realm of dictatorship. We must stand by Ukraine once again.

With so much at stake, it is inexcusable that these elections were marred by massive irregularities and fraud. Credible reports have indicated that situations like the following took place in lead up to and during both rounds of the election.

For example, post-secondary students were offered a range of bribes to vote for the prime minister, including higher grades, money and two month's free rent. Students were threatened with expulsion for supporting the opposing candidates. At one polling station at a technical college, all 1,894 votes were for the incumbent prime minister. Not surprising.

Another situation of ballot box manipulation where 10% of the ballots were disqualified. They then disqualified the entire ballot box. Acid was dropped into ballot boxes. Members may not believe this but invisible ink was known to be used in some polling stations to mark ballots.

Some voters in the eastern Ukraine, the stronghold of the incumbent prime minister, voted in the morning at their local polling station and then were bused to Kiev and other locations to vote again, sometimes more than once, using absentee ballots.

One region is reported to have recorded a voter turnout of over 99%, 19% higher than the national average and well beyond the normal deviation from the mean. It is alleged that at the time balloting closed the recorded turnout was only 74.3%, meaning that 843,000 voters were added after balloting ended.

International observers and opposition scrutineers were denied access to polling stations. Some Canadian observers were followed and threatened. Others were detained and their passports seized. Such intimidation is unacceptable.

Militia members were posted in polling stations, contrary to the elections act, some standing by the ballot box to observe the name on the ballot as it was cast unfolded into the box.

Our colleague, the Liberal member for Etobicoke Centre, addressed an estimated crowd of more than 100,000 people in Kiev's Independence Square. It is his view, as a Canadian MP, that Viktor Yushchenko should be accepted as the people's president.

The runoff election was worse than the first round elections, which were widely criticized for falling below international standards. These are not technical discrepancies. These are gross violations of the democratic process. This is wholesale fraud, a coup d'état by a failing and falling regime.

Popular protests against the stolen election have sprung up across Ukraine as people take to the streets to demand that their votes be fairly counted. We all hold our breath in fear of harm to these peaceful protesters that might spark a violent response throughout the country. Ukraine is on the brink of a civil crisis with foreboding and possibly bloody consequences.

Considering these allegations of serious and significant electoral fraud from international and Canadian election observers, the Government of Canada cannot accept the announced election results by the central election commission reflect the true democratic will of the Ukrainian people.

Today in question period, the Deputy Prime Minister announced that Canada rejects the announced final results. The Government of Canada calls for a full, open and transparent review of the election process. Canada will have no choice but to examine its relations with the Ukraine if the authorities fail to provide election results that reflect the democratic will of the people of that country.

The western community has been unanimous in its condemnation of the results. The White House has urged Ukrainian authorities not to certify results until investigations of organized fraud are resolved. The United States did not accept the election results as legitimate and called for immediate action. The European Union and individual member states have also issued statements similar to our countrys.

Not surprisingly, Russia has adopted an opposite attitude. President Putin has congratulated Yanukovich on the results. Is this the first step to a new U.S.S.R.? My response is simple: Yanukovich, no. Democracy, yes.

We are monitoring developments to determine whether Ukraine addresses the concerns of international observers and ensures that the election outcome reflects the democratic will of the Ukrainian people. This is also a lesson for Canada. We must consider the importance of continuing to foster democratic practices in Ukraine. Canada has been strongly committed to the development of democracy in this country, in particular through CIDA. Since 1991 we have provided over $235 million in assistance to Ukraine. The current election provides evidence that the civic society is indeed getting stronger in that country. Assistance and guidance through CIDA must continue, indeed must increase.

Canada must not lose sight of the fact that the people of Ukraine are the greatest victims of this tragedy. We must affirm our solidarity with them. In practical terms, this means that we must remain engaged with our popular democratic elements within the general population to ensure Ukraine does not become isolated within the world.

These are important days ahead and Canada must remain resolute to its commitment to freedom and democracy for the people of Ukraine. We in this Parliament tonight symbolically stand shoulder to shoulder with our Ukrainian brothers and sisters in the streets of Ukraine as we speak.

UkraineEmergency Debate

9:50 p.m.


Jim Prentice Conservative Calgary North Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, Ukraine is on the verge of a revolution this evening. It is important that we, as Canadians, stand in support of democracy and in opposition to tyranny and the repression of the free will of the Ukrainian people.

The relationship between Canada and Ukraine is a close one and an historic one. Several members this evening have spoken to this. The hon. member for Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre has spoken eloquently of that relationship, as has the hon. member for Provencher.

Let us not forget at the outset that Ukrainian Canadians have contributed enormously to the construction of this country. Ukrainian Canadians have been important to Canada, not only in terms of their absolute numbers, but also in the immense contribution they have made to the cultural, economic and social fabric of Canada. In many respects they have helped define this country into what it is today.

This, then, is not a dispute in a far off land which is unrelated to us as Canadians. It is very much our dispute for we stand in solidarity with the Ukrainian people tonight in this emergency debate. Their fight is our fight and I am proud this evening to stand as the member of Parliament for Calgary Centre-North to speak on behalf of the constituents in my riding.

The situation appears to worsen in Ukraine by the hour. The recent news reports from the New York Times , and other newswire services only hours ago, note that the anointed Kuchma, the outgoing president of the Ukraine, has now certified the election of Viktor Yanukovich. He has done so in the face of massive public unrest, to which many hon. members from both sides of the House have spoken this evening, and he has done so in the face of opposition from western democracies.

The White House, for instance, had publicly called for Mr. Kuchma to refrain from certifying the election, which he has done, and he has done so in the face of the opposition of Viktor Yushchenko, who some have described as a pro-western liberal who was left on the streets of Kiev with somewhere in excess of 500,000 citizens of his country.

The condemnation from the world community at this point in response to the certification has been very clear. Colin Powell, the United States secretary of state, is quoted as saying:

We cannot accept this result as legitimate because it does not meet international standards and because there has not been an investigation of the numerous and credible reports of fraud and abuse.

The foreign secretary of the United Kingdom, Jack Straw, is quoted as saying:

As far as we can see, EU monitors can see, these elections have been flawed. We will continue to take a very close interest indeed in the process and we will certainly not accept this as the final result, at least until all the legal processes and challenges are through.

Yesterday I was proud to hear our own Prime Minister's say “...we feel that an investigation has to take place to determine what the facts are.

Earlier today we heard the Deputy Prime Minister of Canada state that Canada had rejected the results of the Ukrainian election, called it serious and significant electoral fraud and warned that Canadian relations with Ukraine could be cut off if authorities there did not produce non-fraudulent election results.

As we look at the situation in Ukraine, the first question that we must ask ourselves is: What is the evidence of persistent electoral fraud? What is the evidence of fraud, intimidation and detriment in the electoral process, because it is a significant step for us as Canadians to intercede in the democratic process in another country?

First, it is worth noting that all international monitors, including those with the Canadian teams, have substantiated the electoral fraud that has taken place.

I have also listened intently during this debate as other members of this honourable House have documented their own observations and personal experiences. We have as well the record of the personal observations of a member of our own caucus who has personally observed ballot fraud.

Essentially, when the evidence is considered it appears to go this far. There are documented incidents of intimidation in the polls. The Washington Post has recounted how thugs have been mobilized to harass voters. In the Sumy region, members of the electoral commission were attacked and beaten by thugs. In the Chertovy region at a single polling site, an inspector was in fact murdered.

There have also been incidents of double-counting, documented by observers. As well, there have been documented incidents of faulty voter lists that have disenfranchised certain citizens in Ukraine. There have been documented incidents of government resources being dedicated to candidates considered to be favourable to the state, and there are recorded incidents of the use of absentee ballot boxes in a fraudulent manner.

Equally disturbing, there has been criminal disruption of voting stations and destruction of ballot boxes by fire, by acid and by destruction with baseball bats, and there has been an abuse of the mobile ballot box system, which has been documented by other observers.

There has been state control of the media through the election process. It seems that there can be no doubt at this point that in the final analysis the election results were falsified, and indeed blatantly falsified, and that in fact there has been computer manipulation of the vote count itself.

Finally, in terms of the documentation of the incidents of electoral fraud and intimidation, in several provinces there have been observed incidents of mobile buses of voters who have been moved from one polling station to another. All of this in the interests of procuring an electoral outcome secured by fraud. Senator Richard Luger of the United States senate, the chair of the senate foreign relations committee, described this as a concerted and forceful program of election day fraud and abuse.

The condemnation of this has been universal. Leading officials in Europe have criticized and announced the results as fraudulent. I point out first that in respect of the European Union the new president of the European Commission has warned Ukraine of unspecified consequences unless a serious and objective review of this electoral fraud is undertaken. Also, Poland has called for a recount of the electoral results.

The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe has concluded that massive electoral fraud took place. The chancellor of Germany has himself spoken to the German parliament and endorsed this position. As I noted, the United States secretary of state has called upon the Ukrainian government to act immediately and responsibly, indicating that there will be consequences if it does not.

In the face of all of this, and I have not recounted a second time the position of our Government of Canada, there has really been only one voice which has been supportive of this fraudulent election and that has been the voice of President Putin of Russia, who has called the election open and honest. President Alexander Lukashenko of Belarus, whom some describe as the last dictator in Europe, has said quite straightforwardly that the Belarusians do not want western values imposed upon them.

The condemnation, then, has been universal. Canada has been part of that. Our own country has rejected the results of the Ukrainian election and we have termed those results “serious and significant electoral fraud”.

What, then, is to be done in these circumstances? Clearly we must stand up for freedom and democracy. All Canadians, our Prime Minister, our government and members of this House must stand up in unison. I am proud tonight to be a member of the House of Commons and to be speaking in concert with members from other parties in the House of Commons on this issue in respect of which we seem to agree for the most part.

It is worth reflecting that 1946 was the year in which Winston Churchill gave his celebrated speech describing the Iron Curtain, the Iron Curtain which had descended across Europe. That year, 1946, really marked the onset of the cold war.

We must be cautious to ensure that a new Iron Curtain does not descend across the European continent at this point. We must not be silent. We must not be complicit through our silence. We must stand up and be counted in support of the citizens of the Ukraine.

There is every prospect that there will be a new barrier in Europe dividing the continent along the eastern Polish border, to the west consisting of the democracies of western and central Europe as stable members of the European Union and NATO and contributing members of western democratic forces. To the east, Russia, which attempts to manage the democracies of the former U.S.S.R. with allegations of constrained and state-controlled media, manipulated elections and oligopolistic economies marked by corruption.

At issue in this election and in the days ahead is the place of Ukraine in the future and the right of the Ukrainian people to define their own future as we move forward.

On the one hand, there is a presidential candidate who has been described as a democratic reformer seeking to reform the political and economic structure of Ukrainian society, eager over the course of the campaign to break the power of the state.

On the other hand, there is a campaign which really is part of what is taking place in Belarus, in Ukraine and in Kazakhstan, because these have not been isolated occurrences of electoral manipulation. There have been three such situations within the Russian sphere of influence over the last several years, not only in Ukraine but also in the separate province of Abkhazia and thirdly in the state of Belarus.

Therefore, this is a situation that has connotations and implications which go well beyond the Ukraine itself and really deal with the onset of a new regime in the world, the amassing of a new world order of which we are not supportive.

There is, however, hope, because freedom will not be constrained. In the modern world of telecommunications and instantaneous communication, the idea of freedom cannot be constrained. Freedom and democracy once unfurled are not easily cabined.

The position of the House and the voices of all members of the House will resonate across the Atlantic. They will resonate in the Ukraine tonight and tomorrow and in the days after. As elected houses of parliament, as the representatives of western democracies across the world, we must stand up in unison to support the Ukrainian people.

As Mr. Yushchenko said in Independence Square yesterday, I believe, “A wall had been torn down. It was the wall between dictatorship and democracy”. In the days ahead, the issue will be whether that wall is resurrected or whether the wall is broken down and the Ukrainian people are able to embrace the benefits of western democracy and the freedom that will bring in terms of their marketplace and their society.

In all of this Canadians must stand for democracy. It is best that this issue not be resolved on the streets of Kiev in a violent way. As Canadians, we must speak loudly to that effect. As Canadians we have distinguished ourselves with faith in international law, in the power of diplomacy, in the strength of the United Nations and in the importance of multilateralism. These are values which we have taken to the world stage and values which we will continue to endorse as a nation.

We must bring to the table and bring to bear those very thoughts and those very values at this very difficult time in the Ukraine. We must stand for democracy. We must reject as undemocratic the certification of this election.

Every observer who has examined this election or has observed or has been involved in it has decried the fraud by which the electoral result was procured. It is an undemocratic result and it is a result which is unworthy of certification by the president of the Ukrainian state.

We must press for a new election, one with proper independent monitoring. We must stand with the Ukrainian people. They must know that we share their resolve and determination to ensure that there is a new election and that it is an election which is conducted in a democratic manner, in which the world community participates and ensures that there is compliance with democratic norms and values.

We must ensure that this happens. That must be our position. We must have resolve as we go forward to ensure that this is the result. This is something in respect of which we need to be steadfast and in which we need to be cautious, because we must ensure that the situation does not deteriorate further into bloodshed and anarchy on the streets of Kiev.

Once again let me say that I am proud to be a member of the House of Commons at this time. I am proud to participate in this emergency debate and, like the other Canadians here tonight, I am proud to stand in favour of the Ukrainian people, in favour of democracy and in favour of freedom.

UkraineEmergency Debate

10:10 p.m.

Etobicoke North Ontario


Roy Cullen LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the Minister of Justice.

I am very pleased to participate in this important debate on the Ukraine presidential election. It was a very proud day for me today when the Deputy Prime Minister stood in the House earlier and rejected the announced final results and called for a full, open and transparent review of the election.

The Deputy Prime Minister, speaking on behalf of the government, also stated that if the authorities failed to provide election results that reflected the democratic will of the people, the Government of Canada would have no choice but to examine our relations with Ukraine.

I am also proud of the fact that in the House this evening we have had a largely non-partisan debate, and so it should be because this is an issue that goes beyond partisanship. This is an issue about the future of the Ukrainian people and indeed of the world at large.

I also congratulate my colleague, my neighbour from Etobicoke Centre, and other Canadian parliamentarians, for speaking out for democracy in Ukraine, for going to Ukraine to witness the election and for coming back and informing members of the House and our caucus of the travesty that took place in the election.

The election was horribly flawed. Canadian and international observers have reported numerous voting and counting violations, voter intimidation and obvious ballot stuffing. There was an inappropriate abuse of state controlled media. Exit interviews gave a clear indication that Viktor Yushchenko was the clear winner but the Central Electoral Commission has reported Viktor Yanukovych as the new president.

The people of Ukraine deserve much better, as do the citizens of the world, those who are committed to democracy, human rights and the rule of law.

Ukraine is doing its utmost to build democratic institutions and to build a market economy. There are many challenges facing the people in Ukraine. Corruption is one of the plagues that faces that country. An independent organization, Transparency International, has consistently ranked Ukraine as one of the most corrupt nations in the world.

Many Ukrainians, to their credit, are saying this has to come to an end. They are realizing the problems that corruption creates for their society. There is no definitive statistics on this but there is a general consensus that high levels of corruption can deprive the citizens of about 8% of their GDP annually. It also causes huge problems with income distribution where the very many look to the very few who are taking the lion's share of the benefits of a growing economy, and they are taking more than their share by a long shot of the wealth that might be created by that economy and by the people in that country.

There is an organization globally, which was initiated actually here in Canada, called the Global Organization of Parliamentarians Against Corruption. It is a group of parliamentarians worldwide that is working together to see if we cannot stamp out, perhaps not completely, perhaps not next year, perhaps not in 10 years, but to limit the growth certainly of corruption and to reduce its impact in absolute terms. It is a big challenge but what we are finding is that there are parliamentarians around the world who are committed to the fight against corruption, many at great risk to themselves.

I recall meeting a parliamentarian from Zimbabwe. She was speaking out about the corruption in that country. Every other weekend she was arrested, taken to a jail and interrogated. She never knew really from one day to the next what her fate might be. I congratulate her and so many others who have the courage to take on this issue. It is not an easy issue. There is so much corruption entrenched, regrettably, in so many of our societies. It is simply not the way to go.

I had the opportunity a few years ago to visit Kiev. I was invited by NATO to speak. The topic was essentially corruption and money laundering, a threat to international security. I had never actually seen the connection in those terms, that corruption and money laundering were an international threat but we are seeing it today in Ukraine, the threat to international peace by the actions of some corrupt people in Ukraine and by a very corrupt election, no matter how one defines it. It might have been vote buying. There clearly seems to have been vote buying. The very nature of the election and the way it was conducted was corrupt.

We can see the effect of corruption and money laundering. It permeates the culture of a society. It begins to attack the very democratic institutions and the human rights that many in Ukraine are fighting for. I was very happy to hear that many people in Ukraine are saying, “We have had enough and we are not going to take it anymore. We are going to make sure that the democratic choice of the people is respected”.

It is most unfortunate if Russia involves itself in the results of this election, which it obviously appears to be doing at this time. I have met members of the Russian State Duma and the Federation Council. They should be standing up and holding the executive branch of the Russian government to account for the way that it is getting involved in this election. The executive branch has a right to indicate a preference, but to get involved in any kind of militaristic way or in any way that goes beyond stating its opinion is totally wrong in my judgment. I know that many people in the Russian State Duma and the Federation Council are working very hard to build democratic institutions in that country and to build a market economy. This would be a huge step backward for the Russian government to involve itself in any kind of militaristic way in this election.

Canada has a long, long history with Ukraine. I have been told that there are over a million people in Canada who have some ties to Ukraine. My next door neighbour is from Ukraine, and we can probably all say that. They are very proud people. They are very industrious people. They have added great things to our country. We mourn the fact that they look to their country of birth and witness what is happening, after taking five or ten steps forward, to be burdened with this fraudulent activity and this fraud of an election in Ukraine.

I repeat that it was a very proud moment for me today when I heard our Deputy Prime Minister stake out our position very clearly and unequivocally. Canada is taking a leadership role and rightly so. More nations are following and will follow. It is through the collective work now of the nations of the world that have an interest in democracy, that have an interest in human rights, and a vast majority of people on this planet do, to stand together to make sure that this election is rejected, that there is a full investigation and that there is a new election which follows a process that is fair and transparent and respected by the world community.

We should be working with our partners internationally to make sure that happens. If it does not happen, we should be looking at collective action, collective sanctions, and as our Deputy Prime Minister said today, revisiting our relationships with Ukraine. That would be a very unfortunate turn of events, but it so happens that in life we sometimes have to make very tough decisions, and if Ukraine's election results stand, as is being touted now, I do not think Canada or the rest of the world would have any choice.

UkraineEmergency Debate

10:20 p.m.

Vancouver Centre B.C.


Hedy Fry LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration

Mr. Speaker, everyone has spoken here this evening about the travesty of democracy which occurred in Ukraine on Monday, November 22 when, in the second round of voting in the presidential elections, it was declared that the winner was Viktor Yanukovych in spite of the fact that exit polls showed that Yushchenko had in fact won.

International observers at that election have all said repeatedly that the election fell far short of acceptable democratic standards. Our own Canadian observers, and we sent the largest contingent ever of Canadian observers to any election, all said the same thing. They said that there were suspiciously high voter turnouts in some regions, that there was repeat voting using absentee voter certificates, that there were irregularities in ballot counting, that there were restrictions placed on voters' ability to cast ballots. We have heard this over and over. The Canadian ambassador has also reported on these things happening within the process.

We have seen what the result of that was. Ukrainians have reacted swiftly and passionately in this subversion of democracy. We have seen the reaction of people who now for the third day are protesting in the streets of Kiev. Here in Canada we have one million ethnic Ukrainian Canadians. They are equally outraged and have added their protests.

Considering the allegations by so many neutral observers, considering the passionate protests of the people there who are on the ground, Canada can do nothing more than regard this as significant and serious fraud. We have no choice but to reject the results of the election and to call for a full, open, transparent review of the electoral process. The European Union, the United States, Australia and other democratic nations have also rejected the election results as illegitimate and have issued statements similar to Canada's.

Yet we heard tonight and we have heard before that Russia's President Putin has congratulated Yanukovych on his win and has accepted the results. One does not have to be a rocket scientist to understand that something is amiss when Russia is backing the winner and that the independence of Ukraine is very well in jeopardy. This is an independence that Ukraine has fought very hard for and won from the Soviet Union and hopefully it is not going to be short-lived.

The Ukrainian people confirmed their desire for independence from Russia in a 90% win in a referendum on December 1, 1991. Since then they have made slow but very steady progress in democratization, in economic development, in developing a free market economy. They have had for the last three years in fact pulled out and shown strong economic growth.

Ukraine is on its way to becoming a strong player in Europe's economy, preparing for admission into the World Trade Organization, looking forward one day to joining perhaps the European Union and becoming part of the world's free democratic group of societies.

Canada's bond with Ukraine over recent years has been a very strong one. We have worked very hard to assist that nation with economic aid, with developing public and democratic institutions, with engaging civil society. That has obviously been successful because we see that civil society taking to the streets, protesting, showing that they believe in the right of the people to speak out when they need to, and to stand firm and to stand fast.

Canada can do no less but support those very people and those very institutions. We must speak out loudly and firmly that we will continue to work with the Ukrainian people to allow that free democratic society to take place and to do whatever we can to support them in their struggle and in their time of need.

We take for granted, as we have heard over and over, our own democratic society, our ability to stand up anywhere we wish and to say exactly what we want to say, and to defy each other and to have a difference of opinions and to protest openly. We see people every day standing on the grounds outside the House of Commons protesting decisions that duly elected governments have made. That is their right. We believe in this and we take it for granted.

There are people who are struggling to find their place in this democratic society of nations. We must help them. We take pride in the fact that we have fought long and hard, that Canadians in fact have died for the right of people to live in free societies, for the right of people to decide their future, to decide what path they will take, to decide firmly that they will be a self-governing and an independent group of people. We must stand now as a country that believes in the rule of law, as a country that believes strongly in democratic institutions, as a country that goes out and engages civil society at every step of the way.

This is the final step in democracy, not just for a duly elected government to make decisions but for that government to go out and engage the people and listen to them. Many Ukrainians have come here over the years, students and public servants who are trying to learn and build. They are fighting hard for the chance to become a free people. Every one of us in the House has stood tonight in agreement, regardless of what political party a member belongs to or in what ideology a member believes. We have in common those very strong values of democracy.

I stand firmly with everyone in the House, as does the government, that we will stand with the people of Ukrainian. We will ensure that we will continue to challenge and review the process until democratic elections take place and until a winner is decided on to govern by the people of Ukraine.

UkraineEmergency Debate

10:25 p.m.


Lynne Yelich Conservative Blackstrap, SK

Mr. Speaker, I too want to rise tonight to speak about what we are here for this evening. Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Ukraine.

Some communities in my riding are watching this debate and are thinking as well of their families and colleagues back in Ukraine. Our own colleague, the member for Edmonton East who went as an observer said, “The people of Ukraine are telling the world that they have been robbed, and they want their country back. We have seen buses filled with soldiers stationed in the suburbs waiting for the order to go in”. The member for Edmonton East has said, “He personally saw examples of ballot fraud while touring polling stations over the past few days”.

I am pleased that our own government and our Prime Minister acknowledged the allegations of intimidation, double counting and double voting and that these allegations will be taken very seriously. I am pleased that today our Deputy Prime Minister also stated that Canada rejected the results of the Ukrainian election, calling it a serious and significant electoral fraud, and warned that Canadian relations with Ukraine could be cut off if authorities they did not produce non-fraudulent election results.

As we talk this evening, and I hear members from all sides of the House speak on this serious issue, I am pleased that we are all together when we say that Canada has now rejected the Ukraine election results and warned that diplomatic relations could be cut. This is a threat of diplomatic sanctions which consequences translate into the threat to recall the Canadian ambassador from Ukraine or worse and to close the Canadian diplomatic mission in the Ukraine.

Canada has not yet warned of economic sanctions, which is the higher level of consequences. Economic sanctions can range from travel bans and armed embargoes to complete trade bans. Usually economic sanctions are threatened only after diplomatic channels have been exhausted. I hope, in conclusion, that these will not be some of the measures we will be compelled to take.

I would like to, as Pope John Paul II told Ukrainian pilgrims, say that we are praying for the country in a very special way.

UkraineEmergency Debate

10:30 p.m.

Mount Royal Québec


Irwin Cotler LiberalMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, Ukrainian democracy itself, if not the future shape of Europe, as well as the results of an unfair and unfree election, are on the line. For what we are witnessing is an attempt not only to deny the democratic will of the people but to impose, even if by force, the undemocratic control by undemocratic government elements.

This massive electoral fraud did not begin with or take place only in the course of the election. Rather it was already present in the electoral campaign itself.

Indeed, the international Helsinki Federation for Human Rights, a distinguished NGO which had been monitoring the electoral campaign, was warning as early as August 3 that international standards for the holding of free and fair elections were already being denied. Reliable evidence indicated then that Ukrainian government officials were illegally abusing the public trust to manipulate the outcome of the elections. Citizens were being intimidated by authorities if they demonstrated their support for the opposition candidate. Factory workers were being pressure into supporting Mr. Victor Yanukovych with threats to their jobs if they did not cooperate. Heads of regional administrative bodies were threatened with dismissal if election results did not meet prescribed goals. University students were being threatened by university deans to support Mr. Yanukovych and to avoid attending electoral rallies of opposition candidates. Telephone communications of opposition supporters were monitored and eavesdropped upon. State controlled TV consistently misinformed the public on the views of the candidates promoting a positive view of Mr. Yanukovych and a largely negative coverage of Mr. Yushchenko.

There was indeed massive discrimination against the opposition in the period from May to August, with the government candidate receiving eight times more air time on national TV than his opponent.

Moreover, the opposition was accused of harbouring extremist views or being allied with extremist organizations even to the point of being presented as “terrorists” and “criminals”, thereby delegitimizing the opposition even before the election was to take place. Most disturbingly, the IHF appealed to the Ukrainian authorities to remedy these widespread violations in the electoral campaign long before the election itself was summarily dismissed.

In particular, the International Helsinki Federation for human rights had appealed to the Ukrainian authorities to ensure equal access to all candidates of the state controlled media; to ensure full freedom for all candidates to address voters and to present their platform; to prohibit the use of state resources to support the campaign of the incumbent and to obstruct that of any opposition candidate; and to permit access by independent Ukrainian observers to monitor the elections at all stages.

Not only were all these pre-electoral appeals rejected, but these violations then found expression in the actual conduct and on the days of the elections themselves.

Indeed an analysis of the witness testimony and the documentary evidence, the combined evidence of independent observers, which included the observer mission from the OSCE office for democracy and human rights, the OSCE parliamentary assembly of the Council of Europe, the European Parliament and the NATO Parliamentary assembly, all disclosed a widespread pattern of electoral fraud, intimidation and abuse in clear breach of OSCE standards and commitments.

What must be realized is that these massive electoral violations of OSCE undertakings and commitments constitute a violation of undertakings and commitments made to Canada as a country member of the OSCE and a co-signatory to the Helsinki process.

These massive violations by Ukrainian authorities and the corresponding breach of Ukrainian obligations to Canada and Canadians include, and I will cite some of them. The flagrant abuse of state resources in favour of the government candidate thereby demonstrating an utter disregard for the fundamental and necessary distinction between state authorities and partisan political forces. The denial to citizens of their right to their electoral franchise by obtaining, under duress, their absentee voting certificate. The use and abuse of these absentee voting certificates so as to facilitate multiple voting and thereby undermine the integrity of the electoral process. The patterns of electoral intimidation that were directed not only toward voters but also to polling commission members themselves. The presence in almost 40% of the polling stations of unauthorized persons including police and government officials, while authorized persons were excluded or rejected including a significant number of polling station commission members.

Accordingly, having regard to this massive electoral fraud and assault on democracy, may I conclude with a set of recommended guidelines and initiatives for Canada and the international community.

First, Canada cannot countenance the massive electoral fraud and denial of the democratic will of the Ukrainian people. We call for a full, transparent and democratic review of the election process with a view to having this electoral fraud redressed and remedied.

Second, if these fraudulent election results are not remedied, then we will have no choice but to re-examine our relations with the Ukrainian government with whatever adverse consequences may ensue for our bilateral relationship.

Third, we call on the OSCE, where we are a founding member, to take the lead in securing recognition and respect for OSCE undertakings and commitments, including the right to free and fair elections and the protection of a democratic Ukraine.

Fourth, we call upon the Russian authorities to help restore and protect the democratic will and not indulge or acquiesce in any process that will subvert that democratic will.

Fifth, we call upon the various bodies and institutions from whom the international election observer missions were drawn, the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, the European Parliament, the NATO's Parliamentary Assembly and the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, to join together with Canada, which also supplied an electoral mission, and bring our voice and vision together to secure the democratic process in Ukraine, and to realize the democratic will of the Ukrainian people.

Sixth, we call upon these bodies to put the perpetrators of electoral fraud on notice that they will be held accountable for their actions.

We say to the Ukrainian people that we will stand with them, that we will raise our voice together with them, that they are not alone and that in the end those who struggle for human rights will ultimately prevail over those who seek to repress human rights.

UkraineEmergency Debate

10:35 p.m.

Pickering—Scarborough East Ontario


Dan McTeague LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, we are here at the end of a very crucial and timely debate, one which I think signals the ability for this Parliament to remain ever relevant to the current challenges that we face, not only here in Canada but around the world.

I want to compliment each and every member of Parliament who has taken the time to express most intimately, most passionately and most appropriately the concerns that we share as a country on a matter that affects not only the virtues and values that we have in Canada, but those which will obviously reflect very clearly on what is occurring today in Ukraine.

This past Sunday, Ukraine held the second round of its presidential election. This contest was between the current prime minister, Viktor Yanukovych, and the leader of the opposition, Viktor Yushchenko. There was a lot at stake on the outcome of this election, whether Ukraine would continue forging closer relations with the west and whether much needed reforms would finally be enacted, ensuring the development of Ukraine into a prosperous and stable country. However, the most important stake of all in this election is the future of democracy itself in this vast country situated in the heart of Europe. A free and fair election would provide the very foundation upon which to build the future of that country. We know a flawed election could set Ukraine's progress back several years, perhaps decades.

Regrettably, Canadian and international observers and the House of Commons have reported electoral fraud on a massive scale. Intimidation, acts of violence and numerous serious illegal voting practices have been reported. Millions of votes have been cast illegally. These credible reports can only lead us to conclude that this election was neither free nor fair. In fact, it was fraudulent. It is particularly disturbing to note that the Ukrainian authorities and leadership may have played a role in these electoral violations.

Canada reacted very strongly to this unacceptable situation.

First, the Prime Minister declared that, if these numerous reports of fraud proved to be accurate, the international community would have to examine its options.

The Minister of External Affairs then called for an immediate investigation of these allegations of serious fraud, and today the Deputy Prime Minister rose in this House to announce that, considering the allegations of serious and significant electoral fraud, Canada rejects the announced final results, and calls for a full, open and transparent review of the election process.

The Deputy Prime Minister went on to say that Canada will have no choice but to examine its relations with Ukraine if the authorities fail to provide election results that reflect the democratic will of the people of that country.

I should also point out, since this is a matter that was raised this morning, as well as earlier on in this important debate, that the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, in the absence of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, has called in the Ukrainian ambassador in order to make our very serious concerns about this alleged fraud very clear to him.

Canada is not the only country to react so firmly to the election results. It is very clear to say and fair to say that the whole western community is unanimous in denouncing this flawed election. The United States declared that it cannot accept, as legitimate, the results of this election as the numerous reports of fraud have not been investigated. Likewise, the European Union and several of its member states have denounced the election results and called for a review.

Ukraine matters very deeply to Canada. We were of course, as has been suggested here on numerous occasions, the first country to recognize an independent Ukraine in 1991. Since then we have invested large amounts of energy and resources to assist Ukraine to develop into a stable, democratic and independent country.

The Government of Canada's encouragement of democracy in Ukraine has taken a very tangible form. The minister responsible for the Canadian International Development Agency has involved this nation for many years with Ukraine by funding projects in areas of good government, democratic development and strengthening a civil society. In fact, CIDA's present program in Ukraine, valued at $18 million per year, is one of our largest development programs in Europe. Since 1991 Canada has provided over $235 million in assistance to Ukraine.

Canada has also been very much involved in supporting a free and fair presidential election. The Government of Canada sent, as has been expressed by many members in this House, a delegation that included the member for Etobicoke Centre and the member from Edmonton. They were part of a group of observers as part of a mission of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, OSCE, to monitor the vote.

The contingent of approximately 50 long and short term observers was significantly larger than missions sent by Canada to monitor elections in other countries. This is evidence of the great importance that Canada attaches to its relationship with Ukraine and the importance it attaches to the election being fair and of course being honest.

Our embassy in Kiev has also been playing a key role in efforts by like minded countries in support of free and fair elections by leading a group of foreign missions which have been monitoring developments leading to the vote. This group led by Canada has conveyed on many occasions to Ukrainian authorities the importance of a clean vote.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Ambassador Robinson in Ukraine for his excellent efforts without which much of the information that we have received of late would have certainly been to some extent anecdotal.

Canada's commitment to a democratic Ukraine and the ties that strongly bind our two countries have very much to do with the resolve of our fellow Canadians of Ukrainian origins. They have steadfastly supported the independence and development of this country. We must applaud the efforts of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress who in its own right sent several observers to monitor the presidential election.

By demonstrating in the streets demanding that their democratic choice be respected, the people of Ukraine are providing clear proof that democracy is now deeply rooted in their country.

Canada intends to continue to support the development of democracy in Ukraine, a country with which we have close and deep ties.

Let me echo the declaration made by the Deputy Prime Minister today and say that Canada cannot accept these results as they do not reflect the true and democratic will of the Ukrainian people. Canada rejects these results and calls for a full and transparent review of the election process.

A challenge has been given to this Parliament and a challenge has been given to the free world. There will always be those who will defy the imperatives of freedom. No matter how vain such an attempt may be, the reality is that this nation will not tolerate electoral malfeasance.

We share much in common with the people of Ukraine, but we also share much in common with their desire for freedom and for their desire to be free from the kind of obstructions which they have had to confront over the past few days.

I have for several years sponsored and been pleased to have members of the Ukrainian community, students who have worked with me and given me much to learn about that part of the world. We share not only much in common, but I believe that there is a bond between ourselves and the Ukrainian people that requires us and necessitates Canadians to take action in a way that reflects the consensus and the unanimity of our spirit with those who are there this evening who are protesting at this time at six o'clock in the morning local time in Ukraine.

This government takes this challenge very seriously. This Parliament has certainly given an indication that is rare to see in these times, a position where there is cooperation, where there is consensus and we will in the next few days provide greater evidence of our determination to see a free people continue to prosper in Ukraine.