Mr. Speaker, it is a real honour to speak with your oversight as Speaker today. So I do not forget, I want to wish you and yours a very merry Christmas as we approach the Christmas season, happy Hanukkah and happy new year.
I am truly honoured to speak to Bill C-31. It is a very important bill and it is unique in that it brings all the parties here from diverse opinions on different political debates together to support a free trade agreement between Canada and Ukraine. It is a good thing. It is nice to see the New Democrats temporarily lay aside their ideologies and their positions on free trade agreements, which is normally no, and say yes, and it is for very important reasons. I believe it is because of the incredible work and the history and relationship between Canada and the Ukraine.
I will be sharing my time with the member for Lakeland.
As has been pointed out, of our population in Canada of only 35 million people, 1.3 million have a Ukrainian heritage. I am one of those. I am greatly honoured that my grandparents, my baba and gido, from Brody, Ukraine, came to Canada and homesteaded, worked the land, built roads, cleared the land and worked hard to pay taxes. It was a very tough time but it was necessary. Different groups came from Europe to Canada to homestead and help build our great country.
That is the foundation on which we find ourselves in Canada. We have this heritage and this wonderful relationship between Canada and Ukraine.
The largest population of people with a Ukrainian heritage of course is in Ukraine. However, the second largest in the world is in Canada. That wonderful Ukrainian culture blesses us. The member across the way was so happy that perogies, cabbage rolls, borscht, kumasi were available. It is the wonderful food. We are also experiencing the wonderful dance at this important time of the year.
I also want to give huge thanks to the member of Parliament for Abbotsford who, in the last Parliament, was the minister of international trade. I have never seen somebody work as hard as he did. He was on the go, going all over the world. He accomplished free trade agreements that would create jobs and financial prosperity in Canada. He worked so hard for our country. I want to thank him for all the work he did.
In fact, I was able to go with him on one of his trade agreement trips. Senator Andreychuk was there as was the member for Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman. Again, we witnessed first hand how hard the member for Abbotsford, the former minister of international trade, worked.
I was also honoured to be with the former Prime Minister of Canada, Stephen Harper, on one of those trade agreement trips. Shortly after President Yanukovych was elected the president of Ukraine, the prime minister hosted a trade mission to build relations with Ukraine.
On July 14, 2015, Prime Minister Harper and the prime minister of Ukraine successfully completed the negotiations on the Canada free trade agreement. It was a lot of years and a lot of hard work, and it was concluded just before the last election.
I am very happy and thankful that the government has indicated this is also one of its priorities, to continue the work of the previous government and see this very important free trade agreement ratified. It will be good for Canada and for Ukraine.
I also want to give huge thanks to the member for Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman. He has been long an advocate for justice. He is our critic for defence and is doing a great job. He has been to Ukraine many times. I enjoyed being with him on one of those trips as election observers.
In the last election when President Poroshenko was elected, I was an election observer in western Ukraine. The member observed first hand the attacks of war coming from Russia, directed by Putin. He first took Crimea as we were celebrating the Olympics. Then he continued to try to take eastern Ukraine. That mentality of dominance is very reminiscent of the Stalin years, when they would try to expand the Russian borders through all forms of brutality.
Over the years we saw President Yushchenko poisoned. Then Yanukovych took over. Then there were the shootings in Maidan, Russian provocateurs working with President Yanukovych killing Ukrainians. After Maidan, there was the election when Poroshenko was elected president. He came to Canada and spoke to Parliament in the House. The member for Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman and the member for Abbotsford built an incredible relationship with the president of Ukraine. For him to come to Canada as one of his first state visits identified the wonderful relationship we had with Ukraine.
I want to thank the government for now moving ahead and ratifying this very important agreement. That shows support to Ukraine. It is a benefit to Ukraine and to Canada. Again, I thank all of those who have done so much work.
More needs to happen. The fix for Ukraine is not won. There is no one secret thing that we can do to support Ukraine as it is protects itself in a defensive mode from the attacks from Russia, wanting to take the eastern part of Ukraine. We need to continue in our support of Ukraine. How do we do that?
Russian aggression has to be identified for what it is. The House will be voting shortly on Bill C-306. Over generations, there have been Russian attacks, from Stalin on, against Crimean Tatars. It meets the definition of genocide. Therefore, Bill C-306 asks Parliament to show Ukraine its support and call genocide what it is in the face of the Crimean Tatars. I hope every member in the House will do the right thing.
The other thing is increasing youth mobility. We need Ukrainian interns to continue to come to Canada and work so they can learn how Parliament is to function, not learn from our bad examples, but from good examples, so they can build a strong, prosperous country. We also need to fund PTSD training so those who struggle from the Russian attacks will be able to get the appropriate treatment. If we train them how to fish, they can fish. If we train them how to treat PTSD, they can meet those needs within their country, which are so important.
I am available to answer questions, but in the interest of time, I would ask members in the House not to ask me any questions so the member for Lakeland will be able to have her time. We are all anxious to hear her speak.