Madam Chair, God knows how much I wanted to believe in peace. I still believe in it today, because there is no other way out besides peace. We must remain hopeful that these rather strange negotiations currently taking place will bring an end to this conflict, and the suffering it is causing, as quickly as possible.
We must remember that during the previous take-note debate on the situation in Ukraine, our party and the government had some differences of opinion about the imminence of the conflict. Of course, those differences of opinion did nothing to prevent the conflict from breaking out. Ukraine has been unfairly attacked by Russia.
I told the Minister of Foreign Affairs that if conflict were to break out, the government could count on the full support of the Bloc and that we would stand in solidarity in terms of our desire to punish Russia and show our full support for the people of Ukraine. There is solidarity among us in the House, exemplary solidarity among the allies, and solidarity with the Ukrainian people, whose courage and resilience are truly admirable.
On Saturday, some colleagues and I met with Ukrainian colleagues. We spent a few minutes with some of them. One of our colleagues told us that the president and the deputies would stay in the capital. It would have been so easy for those parliamentarians to go back to their constituencies, to return to their families and the people they represent, but this is symbolic of how courageous Ukrainians are in the face of adversity, in the face of this unequal combat they are confronted with.
We simply have no choice but to support the Ukrainian people, first because this country is home to the world's third-largest Ukrainian community. These are people we connect with daily, who have family over there. We share and feel their anguish, their sadness, their concern.
We have no choice but to support the Ukrainian people because they have been subjected to an unfair attack that is also an attack against democracy, against freedom, against us.
Finally, we have no choice because the courage that the Ukrainian people are showing compels us to support them. We, by which I mean the Government of Canada and the west in general, have so far deployed a battery of measures to punish Russia, but also to punish Belarus, which has been complicit in the invasion of Ukraine. I mentioned today that we might want to take that a bit further.
As I said earlier, the Russians would not be at the gates of Kyiv if President Lukachenko had not allowed Russia to use his territory as a base to attack Ukraine from the north.
I have to say that I was, quite frankly, impressed by the speed and vigour of the response by western countries. I must admit that I had doubts. In the early hours of the invasion, we were hearing some reactions from Europe. Certain countries were saying that some of their companies should be excluded from sanctions, and that if Russian banks were banned from SWIFT they would have a hard time conducting transactions. It was starting to look like there might be a chink in the armour, which was worrying, but the west pulled itself together and the allies took action. We have to admire how quickly and strongly countries have responded, but there is still a lot to do.
I heard our Green Party colleague talk about certain oligarchs. Leonid Volkov, who is Alexei Navalny's chief of staff, appeared before the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade and told us that we needed to take action. He gave us a list of oligarchs who should be sanctioned. Several of those on the list have still not been sanctioned.
I am pleased to hear my colleagues in government tell us that everything is on the table. If the government decides to move forward with this, it will continue to have our support, because we must do more. We cannot tolerate this unacceptable aggression towards Ukraine.
We must definitely provide all our support to the Ukrainian people, as we have started doing. This means providing military equipment, non-lethal as well as lethal. Ukrainians need it, as they are facing the second largest army on the planet. We are also talking about foodstuffs, drugs and medical equipment. We must rise to the challenge and give Ukrainians what they need.
We must also welcome Ukrainian refugees. There are currently half a million of them gathered in neighbouring countries, and they are asking for help. The leader of the Bloc Québécois pointed out that if we can accept people at Roxham Road without a visa, why should we continue to enforce entrance formalities for Ukrainian refugees and make them complete all the formalities for receiving a visa? We must remove these requirements and make it easier for Ukrainians who wish to find refuge in Canada, temporarily or permanently, to enter our country.
We have to cut Russian propaganda off at the knees by removing Russia Today from Canadian airwaves. Speaking of Russian propaganda, the Russian people need to be informed. I cannot help but be amazed at the thousands of people in the streets of Moscow, St. Petersburg and other Russian cities risking arrest the moment they hit the streets to protest this war against a people that did nothing to deserve it, a people whose destiny they have shared for over 75 years.
Many Russians do not understand, and many of those who do not understand are speaking out against what they feel is unacceptable. How many Russian families will be bereaved? How many soldiers' bodies will be returned to their families as casualties of an unjust conflict?
As I said today, there may be hope in the Russia that is making itself heard today despite pressure from the powers that be.
In addition, as we heard from—