Madam Speaker, I will start off by saying that I am going to split my time with the member for Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman.
I am going to focus on three aspects and issues. I know the primary aspects of the motion today are focused on the report from the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration. The report condemns the continuing attacks in Ukraine by Russian President Vladimir Putin, recognizes that a growing portion of Russian people are bravely resisting this and, finally, calls on what actions the Government of Canada can do about it.
I am going to provide a little history, from my background and professional opinion, of why we are in this situation in the first place, what has been done, what is currently ongoing and more, to get to the crux of the issue in today's motion, which is what can be done going into the future.
It is on the public record that I was surprised when things happened the way they happened earlier this year, in the February time frame, with Russia's illegal invasion into Ukraine and how much the Russians actually tried to achieve.
This is where the west, including Canada, made a mistake. We should never have pulled all our trainers and diplomats out of Ukraine in the first place. I think this sent a cross signal to Putin and the Russian regime that the west did not care.
That was the wrong strategic message to send. I understand and I wish that I still had access to all of the intelligence reports and stuff, like when I was in the Canadian Armed Forces and we were tracking this stuff fairly regularly. However, three years ago I made the transition here to politics, and I no longer have that same access to information that the Government of Canada and the appropriate officials have.
My point is that there were all sorts of indications, and I think that is why, ultimately, the decision was made, and we can say for prudence's sake, to pull out of Ukraine. I think that by pulling all of our forces out, and when I say our forces, I am talking about the west, from Kyiv and everything to the west, it sent a message to Putin that said, “Hey, Ukraine is available here. We are not interested in defending it.”
I really think that, as previous Canadian Armed Forces task force commanders in Ukraine have said, we should be in there, raising the alarm bells diplomatically and through our trainers right from day one, and not necessarily pulling all of our forces out. We should accept the risk.
I think, from my understanding of the geopolitical situation, the real concern, and it is still the concern to this day, was about a possible escalation to a nuclear conflict. How do we manage that?
I just think, all right, we can look at the American forces, the U.S. They could have pulled their forces out, but I think, ultimately, for ourselves and maybe the French and maybe the Brits, we should have left our trainers on the ground and definitely left our diplomats because, despite the fact that the conflict is still ongoing, the right decision has been made by the west to get our diplomatic missions going again in Ukraine.
To speak again about just where it failed and why things have happened the way they have happened, still talking about the history, ultimately, Russia went in there. It did not have a competent force. I think a lot of the Russian generals were too scared to speak truth to power to Putin, so they thought this was going to be a cakewalk. However, based on the history and all the information we now have available, we know that a lot of those conscripts or reserved forces that were sent into Ukraine did not have a clue about what they were getting themselves into and, after five years of NATO forces and the west training the Ukrainian forces, we saw the benefit of what can happen when one has a well-trained western force, i.e. what the Ukrainians have managed to get themselves evolved into under a mission command construct, and what they were able to do, to bloody the nose and put up the resistance. I give so much kudos to the heroics and the courage of the Ukrainian people. They put up a tremendous fight and Canada needs to continue to support them.
Let us talk about where we are now. Putin continues to do that. He recognizes that he got that bloody nose, that he got beat up pretty bad by Ukrainian forces. What is he doing now? He is basically resorting to tools of terrorism and utilizing and attacking the civilian population, versus going after Ukrainian and legitimate military targets.
We see that as Putin targets Ukraine's major city centres, their infrastructure and their energy infrastructure, doing everything in his power to take out women, children and people who have nothing to do with this conflict. That is where it is getting to.
We have heard comments about propaganda. Absolutely, I am in 100% agreement. If we did a quick survey of all the members in the House of Commons, I am sure every single one of us from across the political spectrum has been getting phone calls and emails from constituents concerned about having heard this or that about Ukraine. It shows the danger that exists out there with the Russian propaganda and how it is trying to influence this. That propaganda is not just in the west. That propaganda is ongoing in Ukraine itself and within Russia itself.
To get to the crux of this motion, the Russian people themselves are recognizing that there is a lot of propaganda that they do not buy. This, tied to the potential increased threat of a nuclear conflict, has them scared. They are looking at the situation now and saying that if this escalates, the west is not going to let this go, and it is their own people who are going to die because of a dictator in Vladimir Putin who is illegally invading another country for purposes that are nothing beyond him propping up his own regime, his own dictatorship and his own concerns for consolidating power. We need to do everything in our power to stop that.
What has Canada done about it? Obviously, we have called this out and there have been sanctions imposed. However, as I said, we have made some significant potential errors, and we could have done a much better job. We have supplied all sorts of money. I will give the government kudos. We got the M777s over there and a bunch of 155-millimetre ammunition, but Ukraine needs more. It keeps asking for this more and more, time and time again.
I stood in this House in the February time frame and asked the government about giving Ukrainians our old armoured vehicles. We have LAV IIIs; we have Bison ambulances, and we have Coyotes, surveillance-capable packages that are able to go there. We need to get them to the Ukrainians so they have the necessary support and ability to keep this fight going.
However, it is not just me asking for that. Ukrainian MPs came to Canada in June and asked when they were going to get these vehicles, and there is still no answer from the government. Why will the government not just provide the necessary support in armoured capability platforms to the Ukrainian military? I still do not get it.
There is lots we can do with respect to Ukrainian refugees. There have been debates here in the House about that, and additional measures. Colleagues of mine are currently in and out of Poland and Ukraine, and former friends of mine have done the lion's share of getting the majority of women, children and Ukrainian refugees out. I had the pleasure of meeting a number of Ukrainian refugees in my riding this past summer. Kudos to the Canadian population for everything they are doing to help them out.
However, now more and more is going on. Russian people and dissidents are speaking out who recognize that this has to stop. This motion calls for the Government of Canada to actually do something to help. That is what the motion is calling for, and it is absolutely necessary. It needs to develop the necessary measures to help these Russian dissidents get out of the situation and allow them to be that voice, because the more of them speak out, the easier it is to combat the disinformation.
In conclusion, I have talked about where we have made the mistakes historically, why the situation is as terrible as it is, what Russia is doing and all of its terrible actions, why we need to continue to oppose Putin and, finally, the importance of this motion and why the Government of Canada needs to do more.