Madam Speaker, it is with a heavy heart that I join this debate on the tragedy taking place in Ukraine. In 2016 and then again in 2018, I attended the OSCE, which is the organization for security and co-operation in Europe, for parliamentary missions first in Tbilisi, Georgia, and then in Berlin.
Russian aggression, territorial interference and misinformation campaigns were always uppermost in the discussions with member states. Economic actions, specifically the disruption of oil and gas supplies, were the threats that underlined the discussions, but there was always the fear that if there was not compliance, Russia would use its military might to make its point. Of course, the Russian representatives to these meetings always denied any such motives, stating that any actions they might contemplate were at the urging of patriots within those nations. They were not believed then, and they are not to be believed now.
The co-operation they sought on the Nord Stream project was a great example of Russian manipulation. Using the European and North American fixation on green strategies and policies, they effectively produced campaigns to demonize hydraulic fracking, thus stigmatizing research and development in this area. By encouraging agreements with new gas pipeline projects for themselves, they knew that they would be able to keep these markets to themselves. These misinformation campaigns sadly have been active on Canadian soil for years. I am a firm believer that we should neither glorify nor demonize any of the energy sources that we have been blessed with, that we should remain stewards of our land and that we should also approach energy security with our eyes wide open.
At the OSCE meetings that I attended, my Ukrainian counterparts were very blunt about what one could expect from any agreements made with Russia. They referenced the original Minsk agreement, which was a failed attempt at a ceasefire aimed at halting the Russian-backed separatists who had seized swaths of territory following Russia's 2014 annexation of the Crimean Peninsula. The Minsk 2 deal, which set out military and political steps, remains unimplemented, primarily because of Russia's insistence that it was not party to the conflict and therefore was not bound by its terms. The actions of this last week, and Ukrainian assertions about Russian aggressions, made it abundantly clear that they were right all along.
We can comment further on how this all came about, but the real focus now is that Ukraine has been brutally attacked by Russia. What can we do now? How can we help Ukraine? How can we ensure our own sovereignty stays intact? How must we react to the threat of nuclear escalation? How do we react to a Russian leader whose personal reality is that of a Cold War dictator? Countries around the world have made strategic moves that include banning Russian aircraft over their territory, as well as a series of sanctions placed on major Russian players. There are many more details to come in these areas, and hopefully these impacts will be such that they will not allow Russian oligarchs to slip through.
There have been ambassadors expelled, as well as embassy officials recalled. All are actions designed to help make the point that Russia has chosen to isolate itself on the international stage. The misinformation campaign led by Russia Today is being handled by individual communication companies. As we speak, these companies have taken RT off the air. Had the CRTC pushed this earlier, it would have been helpful, but kudos to the industry for stepping up.
Having spoken to leaders of the Ukrainian community in Alberta, they firmly believe that we must ensure that humanitarian aid is available, that safe passage to Canada can be facilitated, that troops will be supplied with the necessary armaments and that full pressure will continue to be applied to Putin and his regime. Actions such as Russia's removal from organizations such as the G20 and the OSCE were also suggested, as was the implementation of visa-free travel from Ukraine to Canada.
On the issue of our sovereignty, there are lessons to be learned. Germany has now seen fit to increase its military spending to 2% of GDP. It and many other European nations have realized that they cannot be held energy hostages, and that a global analysis of this reality is now needed more than ever. This is part of a long-term fix, but no country is better suited to assist in this than Canada. We await the Liberal government's acceptance of this reality.
Sovereignty also means dealing with the reality that Canada shares an Arctic border with Russia. We have let this reality slip from our consciousness, but a reawakening is necessary for us as a nation.
There needs to be a serious plan for Canada's Arctic that will address the aging NORAD early warning system, fix our broken military procurement system and ensure that we will work closely in collaboration with Scandinavian countries and the U.S. to ensure Arctic peace and security.
The threat of nuclear action, which is Putin's latest veiled threat, is something that is disconcerting to all, but this is a reality that exists when leaders seek and attain ultimate control of their people. Perhaps the outpouring of support for Ukraine from within Russia, the potential of real economic collapse, not just for the political and financial elites but for the Russian people as well, and the current international condemnation will become strong enough for Putin to find another path or for the Russian people to find another path for him.
On the issue of energy security, I want to put on record segments of the address I gave in July of 2016 to the OSCE meeting in Tbilisi, Georgia. I stated that, for Canada, energy security and clean energy transition go hand in hand. Energy efficiency and renewables are key parts of the equation. According to the International Energy Agency, improving energy efficiency alone could get us nearly halfway to Paris commitments, while improving global energy security.
As part of its energy union strategy, the EU aims to enhance its energy security solidarity and trust by diversifying Europe's sources of energy as well. As we can see, energy security truly is a global challenge that calls for strong, multilateral co-operation among our countries.
Energy is the backbone of any economy, and thus of our security. A healthy energy sector must be able to support the day-to-day needs of our people, sustain the growth of our economies and contribute to the sustainability of our environment and natural resources. According to the International Energy Agency, even with proposed diversification, the world's demand for energy could grow by nearly one-third by the year 2040.
I went on to state that Canada is a stable democracy with a strong economy. We represent a secure, reliable and ethical source of energy for the world's future. The Canadian oil and gas brand, as well, is well respected throughout the world by those who are knowledgeable about the industry. We have some of the strongest regulations on the planet. We demand that oil and gas activity be monitored, that producers properly respect landholders and that companies adhere to the rules of proper reclamation.
When it comes to the fossil fuel debate, all we ask for is honesty and fairness. The profits, royalties and taxes that come from this industry build our schools, fund our hospitals and allow us to contribute to help alleviate global poverty, yet we are demonized by so-called environmental activists that see fighting Canada as a soft target, one where public pressure will slow down development. Meanwhile, foreign interests, some engaged with renewables and others with non-renewable fuels, including their own oil and gas interests, are able to hold back one of the most responsible and ethical producers from expanding and reaching foreign markets.
I concluded with my challenge for those that do us economic harm to compare what we as Canadians contribute to the world, as far as safety, security and respect for human dignity is concerned, with those countries that presently sell their oil to us. I believe the answer was clear.
The time for Canada to step up has never been so critical. The Liberal government has failed to recognize that oil and gas is vital to Canadian and European security. We need to get new pipelines built to tidewater to displace Russian natural gas. Russia supplies 40% of Europe's natural gas and uses this to intimidate Europe and Ukraine, threatening to cut off supplies to Europe. If supplies are cut, people will freeze, industries will shutter and Europe's GDP will plummet.
Conservatives stand with Ukraine, the people of Ukraine and over one million Canadians with ties to Ukraine. We believe that Canada must strengthen our own defences and renew our commitment to the NATO alliances in the face of the threats of Russia. As Conservatives, we know that Canadians must take Russian aggression seriously. We know that Canada's security is inextricably tied to that of Europe and that now is in the time for us to acknowledge that fact with action.