Madam Speaker, I want to recognize the amazing work of the member for Edmonton Strathcona this evening. I really appreciate her thoughts on this issue and certainly hope that all people in this House listen to what she has to say.
I want to start this speech today by talking a bit about the fact that while growing up, I lived part of the time at my grandfather's house. He owned a large piece of property, and in the whole community, which spanned many acres, there were 25 people who lived there.
The reason that is so important to me is that as a young person I would go and visit Mary and Dobbie. They lived about a 45-minute walk from my house, and I would visit them regularly and help them out with things. As I got older, I started to understand that their accents were from where they grew up, which was in Europe, and the reason they were there was that during the Second World War, they fled Nazi Germany. I remember Mary telling me stories about her family being taken when she was young and how she had to hide in a suitcase to get through parts of Europe to eventually get to safety in Canada. She talked about the reason she lived in such a small house on such a big piece of land. It was because she always wanted an exit so that if anybody came for her again, she would be able to hide and get away, and there was enough space for her to do that.
I remember as a young person really being impacted by what that meant, understanding that for this person and her husband every day was a precious gift, yet every day they were slightly afraid of what they had lived through and afraid that it could happen again. I think of every Remembrance Day in my riding, when I go to multiple communities to stand and be with them to remember the history of the Second World War and understand how important it is that we create as much peace as we can.
I remember Mary saying to me one time, “I no longer believe in a god. I cannot believe in a god when I saw what happened in my community, when I saw people that I thought were friends tell on our family and get some of those people taken away.” She said, “Even though I do not believe in God, I pray for peace unceasingly.” Often when I think of her legacy for me personally, I think about peace unceasingly and I am really grateful for that lesson.
I too am one of the members who spent time in Lithuania just a few days ago with the Canadian NATO Parliamentary Association. I think it is really important that as we sit in those rooms and listen to the interesting debates, discussions, education and papers that are presented to us, we always remember that even in those places where we are talking about security and how to stay safe, we also remember peace. I think about that space and about how many of us listened to ministers who were being televised from Ukraine, their images projected on the wall, and I think every single one of us who was there will never forget how exhausted those faces looked—how determined they looked, and how exhausted they looked.
I think of the deputy prime minister for European and Euro-Atlantic integration of Ukraine and government coordination of humanitarian aid, who spoke very passionately about the huge violations that were happening across her country and how she had to wake up every day, when she could actually sleep, and deal with those issues again and again and try to find solutions, in a situation in which I think most of us cannot even imagine trying to think of solutions, knowing that her communities and people were not safe and that children and women in particular were being attacked.
I also think of the work that was done and presented to us on NATO's approach to women, peace and security. I think we need to keep talking about these things. We know that when there is an investment in women in all of these situations, whether it is an act of warfare or international aid while people are rebuilding, if women are not lifted up, given supports and given power, things do not get better. In fact, they get worse. We heard very clearly that women play such a large part in communities, in leadership and in resources, and that when there are limited resources, they are better at negotiating so that everybody can be okay. I think about that a lot.
I also think of a presentation from Konstantin von Eggert, who is an independent journalist recognized in many countries for the profound work he has done, especially in relation to Russia. He talked about how one of the biggest challenges that we have in building up understanding and knowledge of Russia is people's indifference, because their focus is so much on survival and getting through day to day that they really do not have the energy to even think about what is happening outside of those borders. They are dealing with a lot of propaganda that is very concerning, and we need to fight that misinformation, which is hard to do in trying to educate people behind Putin's walls.
He also talked a lot about continuing to expand sanctions and that this needs to keep happening. We have to build that unease. He talked so much about how much power Putin has within his own country and with the oligarchs, and how hard it is to build up that pressure. I think it is incredibly important that we remember that our process in terms of sanctions is still very weak in this country. We need to do much, much better so that we can have better accountability and of course make sure that resources that are coming in are going back home to Ukraine, which desperately needs them right now.
As we look at all of these things, one of the deep honours that I had on the trip was having a meal with some Ukrainian members of parliament, sitting down with them and again seeing how exhausted those faces are and understanding that not only are they working within their own country day by day, but when they leave their country, they are on a road show where they are talking to people, going from country to country and trying to get engagement so that they can continue to fight this fight.
One of the things that I was happy to tell them was that in my riding, people are gathering together. They are working so hard. I spoke specifically of Slav and Stefan in my riding, who are getting resources and sending them off to Ukraine every day. They are working so hard. I want to recognize that. I know that across Canada, so many people are doing that work.
One of the things we have to also be talking about is the rebuilding process. We do not know how long this is going to last. We need to do everything we can during this time, but the other part is, how do we rebuild?
I remember that the First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economic Development and Trade of Ukraine came and presented to us and talked about reconstruction and development and how they are already working on that plan, recognizing the horrendous war crimes that have happened in their country, where they have seen many hospitals and schools and infrastructure that is core to communities completely obliterated, destroyed, and they have to figure out what they are going to do in the interim and later on as they rebuild.
I think one of the things that is so clear is how scary it is to think about rebuilding during so much uncertainty. It is, again, one of the things that we all need to think about in the House as we have these discussions.
I am very pleased to support having Finland and Sweden come into the fold of NATO. I think we are always better together. I think it is always important that as we come together in these ways, we hold one another accountable, as we should in all of the countries, to make sure that our human rights standards continue to be strong, that we are respectful, that we understand the relationships and how they will impact us.
I met with members of parliament from both countries, and we had conversations about the concerns that they are seeing and the things they want to do moving forward. We can do it better together, so I look forward to that discussion.
I want to close by saying that as we do these things, we must remember humanitarian aid. We must remember that stabilizing communities as they go through conflict and as they are trying to recover from conflict must be a priority. If those resources are not there, then we will all continue to deal with this, and we are, across this planet, so let us make sure that every system we use always focuses on peace.