That the fifth report of the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration presented on Monday, April 4, 2022, be concurred in.
Mr. Speaker, I want to raise a very important issue of international human rights, a subject on which we may even find some rare agreement with my friends in the corner.
In the context of this motion, I want to say that we have the honour of recognizing the presence in Canada, in particular here in Ottawa, of Mrs. Kara-Murza, the wife of Vladimir Kara-Murza. She is here advocating for the release of her husband and, indeed, to promote justice and human rights.
Vladimir Kara-Murza is likely among the most well-known heroes inside of Russia. He joins others who are fearlessly standing for freedom and human rights. Mr. Kara-Murza is currently imprisoned and has survived multiple assassination attempts. I salute Mrs. Kara-Murza, as well as Mr. Kara-Murza for his courage and work in magnifying these issues. I join my voice to others in calling for Mr. Kara-Murza's release.
In the spirit of recognizing the courageous Russian opposition figures who are standing against the invasion of Ukraine and standing against the human rights abuses taking place inside of Russia, I am seeking the concurrence of the House for a motion that I moved at the immigration committee earlier this year. It was a motion to oppose the invasion of Ukraine launched by Russian President Vladimir Putin, to recognize the courageous Russian opposition and, really, the importance of that opposition in the larger context of what we are seeing in the world today and to have immigration measures put in place to provide support and assistance to these brave Russian human rights defenders.
The motion that I put forward at the immigration committee and for which I seek the concurrence of the House is as follows:
(a) condemn the continuing attack on Ukraine ordered by Russian President Vladimir Putin,
(b) recognize that a growing proportion of the Russian people are bravely resisting and opposing this attack,
(c) call on the Government of Canada to develop measures to support Russian dissidents, human rights defenders, and conscientious objectors within the military who are seeking to urgently flee Russia, while ensuring that necessary security precautions are taken.
That is the fifth report of the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration. It was adopted by the citizenship and immigration committee on April 4.
Of course, the context has significantly shifted since then and has arguably made the role of the Russian opposition even more important, as we see increasing human rights violations inside of Russia and as we see, in response to the defeats on the battlefield that Russia is facing, the continuing brutalization of the Russian people and of the Ukrainian people by the Russian regime, which is throwing untrained, unprepared conscripts at the front lines and simply trying, in a sense, to pile up corpses of its own people in a vain hope of stopping the Ukrainian advance.
We are seeing that this brutal regime has no regard for the lives of the Ukrainian people. It also has no regard for the lives of the Russian people. Estimates are now that more people have sought to flee Russia than were actually involved in the invasion. It is quite a number and quite a magnitude. We are seeing the rallies and the acts of resistance by people in Russia who are trying to call out what the regime is doing. They are defending the rights of Ukrainians and are also defending their own rights to choose and shape their own future.
I will have more to say about the Russian opposition, but let me just start by making a few comments in the context of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, in particular about the things that Canada needs to do right away to support Ukraine. Ukraine is winning and succeeding, but they need continuing support from Canada and other western allies. I would say we primarily need to think in two areas: the area of weapons support and the area of energy security.
In the area of weapons support, various voices from Ukraine, including very forthright comments on the weekend from a Ukrainian member of Parliament, have said that Canada needs to do more in terms of supplying weapons. There seems to be a hesitation in terms of supplying vitally required weapons from Canada, and Canada is falling behind in its support for Ukraine. More is required in terms of supplying weapons. We in the official opposition will continue to push the government to give Ukraine all of the weapons supplies it needs.
There have been other voices connecting to the government that have called on it to do more. Canada's own ambassador to the United Nations, Bob Rae, has called out the government and said that, in his view, the government needs to be doing all that is required to supply Ukraine with the weapons that it needs. We need more engagement from the government in terms of supplying weapons. We were late to the party on that in many respects. We should have been supplying lethal weapons to Ukraine prior to the invasion, and we should be doing more now in the area of weapons.
As to the area of energy security, right away after the invasion, the Conservatives had a motion in this House that recognized the critical role of energy security in this conflict and that said Canada needed to seize the moment to correct what have been seven years of failed energy policy, to ramp up our energy exports to Europe and to supply Europe with the energy support and security it requires. We recognized the government's failures in developing the energy sector over the last seven years. Now would have been the time to recognize those failures of policy and to correct them, yet the government is continuing to undermine efforts to expand energy development and export in response to these circumstances.
This is critical because most of the world's democracies, as it happens, are geographically small and more populous nations that therefore tend to rely on imports of natural resources, especially energy resources from other countries. Canada is relatively unique in the democratic world, as it is a geographically large, less densely populated country that is rich in natural resources. I believe that gives us a special vocation within the community of democratic nations. We have the responsibility to supply like-minded democratic allies with the kinds of energy resources that they require in order to have security. We should step up and fulfill that role, because if we are not supplying energy and providing that security, our partners in Europe and in the Asia-Pacific, other democratic countries, will find themselves forced to be more reliant on more hostile, undemocratic sources of energy. We have seen how failures in Canadian energy policy to support our allies have left those allies more dependent on hostile powers like Russia and therefore potentially more vulnerable to energy blackmail.
We cannot reverse these seven years of policy failures overnight, but the first step should be to recognize the problem. I note the Deputy Prime Minister has made comments about the need to get serious about this issue, and I would hope she would be even more explicit about acknowledging that her government has failed on these issues and acknowledging the current circumstances underlying the need to correct that failure as quickly as possible.
When it comes to supporting Ukraine in general, Canada needs to step up in the area of weapons and Canada needs to step up in the area of energy. In particular, we can also step up, as it relates to this motion, in our support of the Russian opposition, recognizing the critical role that it is playing and that it is going to play.
In some ways it is difficult to know all of the dynamics that are going on inside of Russia. We can speculate about what may be happening, what may be being contemplated and what the different figures opposed to the regime in Russia are doing. We can speculate about those things, but we can also learn the lessons of history and draw from those lessons in our understanding of what might be going on and of the critical role that other countries can play in offering support.
As I have told the House before, my grandmother was a Holocaust survivor. I have done a lot of reading about the kind of anti-Nazi German resistance that was in place throughout the Nazi era but especially toward the end of the Second World War. It culminated in and continued after the Valkyrie plot.
There are a lot of lessons we can learn for understanding the kind of resistance that can exist to authoritarian or totalitarian regimes and how it manifests itself. I would commend a few books to the consideration of hon. members on that era.
I recently read Disobeying Hitler: German Resistance After Valkyrie, by Randall Hansen. What he describes is the multi-faceted nature of resistance that can take place in a totalitarian system. Sometimes people are speaking out or protesting, and we have seen some of that in Russia. We have forms of military resistance seeking political change. Hansen also speaks in particular about how disobedience is a form of resistance.
When we have a totalitarian regime giving orders to the military, we can then sometimes have instances where those orders are ignored or massaged to minimize the destruction and the loss of life. He chronicles many examples of this at the end of the Second World War, when low-level forms of resistance or disobedience by people within the German army, like disobeying orders that had come from high command, preserved infrastructure and lives, and had some degree of positive effect.
We can hope that what we will see more of going forward inside of Russia is this kind of multi-dimensional resistance, where people in the military are maybe ordered to engage in atrocities or to respond in particular ways and they are ignoring or massaging those orders or maybe surrendering without authorization and taking these kinds of simple steps to try to resist the oppression of the Russian regime and its violence toward Ukraine, but also toward its own people.
The other thing I certainly found interesting about reading stories of the anti-Nazi German resistors is that many of them were motivated by a deep sense of nationalism; that is, they loved their country, they were committed to the honour and dignity of their country, and they felt their country was being betrayed by the regime. These figures were key in the German resistance, people like Admiral Canaris. They had this sense of loving their country more than their government did, and they also came from elite circles. Many of them were in positions of privilege and power within the system, which gave them the means to resist. That existed alongside everyday people who were protesting in the streets in select moments and who were maybe distributing materials that were critical of the regime.
In the case of the anti-Nazi German resistance, people did not fulfill their full potential, but they had an impact. They led to lives being saved, but they also provided the moral basis for what came next. They did manage to show the world that there was an other Germany, a different Germany, that was not represented by the fascist regime.
We see a similar thing happening in Russia, where people like Vladimir Kara-Murza, whose heroism, resistance and sacrifice, and that of many others show the fact that there is a different Russia; there is a Russia represented by people who believe in freedom and democracy, but also who deeply love their country, love their culture and who do not buy into this fiction that somehow there is an inevitable antagonism between Russia and the West. They recognize that the values of freedom and democracy and recognition of universal human dignity are universal and they want to see Russia have a government that embraces these ideas and principles.
We can recognize the value of the Russian opposition, the role it is playing and the role that it must continue to play. In particular, what are we seeing right now?
This motion was tabled in the House on April 4. As I said, there are many things we cannot know about what may be going on inside of Russia, but we do see evidence, and we have heard evidence at the foreign affairs committee and elsewhere, that there are emerging cracks. There has been speculation, for instance, if the military would carry out an order in Russia to use a nuclear weapon and the devastating consequences that would no doubt have for Russia. Would such an order be the occasion for resistance? We would certainly hope it would be.
We can also see how, in the face of Russia's further mobilization, it is drafting people who are outside of military age, people who are, in some cases, not physically fit for military service, and forcing them to the front line without anything resembling appropriate training. This is rightly provoking a sense of resistance and frustration within Russia, where people are protesting or are fleeing.
It is really important for us to recognize, in the context of this conflict, that everybody involved is an individual. People are responsible for their own choices and actions. Of course, many people around the regime itself are responsible for the evil actions it is undertaking. There are also Russian people who are opposed to it. We need to reflect on that and do all we can to support the Russian opposition.
In Canada's engagement in response to the invasion of Ukraine, we need to do more with respect to weapons, energy policy and support for the opposition. The motion on April 4 was presented prior to the order for mobilization and we see all the more now, in response to the resistance, the need for Canada and other countries to respond in offering that support.
As well, the motion speaks to immigration measures. This comes to us from the immigration committee. It talks about offering channels of support, with respect to immigration, for Russian dissidents and human rights defenders who are fleeing. For years, the Conservatives have been advocating special supports in terms of immigration for human rights defenders. We have talked about it in the context of a special program for Hong Kong and other situations. Our contention in general is that those who have taken a stand, who have fought for human rights and as a result of it face severe threats and persecution would make great Canadians. They can richly contribute to our country in our understanding and appreciation for the values of freedom and democracy, and we can provide those people with an opportunity to be safe here and a platform to continue to do their work and advocacy. This is one of the concrete measures that we are taking.
I know there is some controversy in other countries about the question of the number of people who are fleeing Russia and who should be able to come here, and so forth. However, it is important to underline that the motion speaks specifically to human rights defence. It speaks specifically to those who wish to flee, those who have been actively engaged in human rights work, who are active dissidents and who are active and clear conscientious objectors.
This is the focus of the motion, and on that basis it should enjoy broad-based support in the House. I hope members will be prepared to add their voice to this important motion and we will be able to get this motion supported, voted on and adopted by all members.
The House, standing together, should express its support for the Russian opposition and express its recognition that the Putin regime does not represent the Russian people. We should recognize those brave Russians, and many who have private objections, who have been vocal and public in opposing the regime in various ways. It would send a powerful signal if the Canadian House of Commons recognized, as part of this, that we support the Ukrainian people in their resistance to Putin's tyranny, the Russian people in their resistance to Putin's tyranny, the Belarusian people in their efforts to resist Putin's tyranny and other people who are affected by the violence of that regime.
The House of Commons, the government, Canada, should do more by supplying weapons, energy security and supporting the Russian opposition. I hope we are able to send that strong message today in support of the people of Ukraine and the people of Russia.