Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I will be providing opening remarks and then we'll be happy to move to questions. On behalf of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress, it's a pleasure to be here and to have had the invitation to appear before you today. Alexandra Chyczij, our president, spoke with you several weeks ago. We're here to continue to share the views of the Congress.
I hope that members of the committee had a good summer. We've been in touch with many of you and appreciate the work you've been doing over the summer.
Since it's September 7, I want to wish you a happy Ukrainian Canadian Heritage Day. Ukrainian Canadians have been here in Canada for 130 years. It's a day that's recognized in several provinces, and we're working to recognize it nationally. I wanted to note that for the record.
On today's topic, on June 15, the UCC wrote to foreign minister Joly, expressing our concern that the Canadian government was considering waiving the sanctions. On July 6, we wrote to Prime Minister Trudeau. We said about this turbine matter that it would be “a test of the resolve of the Government of Canada to maintain sanctions and to continue to isolate Russia.” Our feeling was that any waiver of Canadian sanctions would be viewed as “a capitulation to Russian blackmail [demands] and energy terrorism,” serving to “embolden the Russian terrorist state, with far-reaching and negative consequences not only for Ukraine or the European Union, but for Canadian security as well.”
Unfortunately, the Canadian government neither heard nor heeded our concerns, which were shared by the Ukrainian government, and the waiver was granted.
We see that the Russian government has predictably been very emboldened in demanding further concessions. Despite Canada’s and Germany’s capitulation to the Russian demands, Russia has, in fact, shut off the Nord Stream 1 pipeline entirely. No gas is currently flowing. There's a continuing escalation of stories about the reasons the Russian gas supply isn't working this particular week, or that particular week.
Kremlin spokesperson Peskov said on September 5 that Russian gas supplies will not resume until western sanctions are lifted, using the false pretext that sanctions are preventing the servicing of Russian pipelines. This, of course, is not factual, but that is not the point. The Kremlin lies brazenly and as a matter of regular policy. What matters, as we've said many times, is that the turbine issue here has never been about the turbines. It was about the sanctions.
Now, Canada and Germany continue to have a choice: whether to continue to play this game with Russian blackmail demands or simply to cancel the sanctions exemption and show Russia that we will not be intimidated in the face of its threats.
We understand that the Russian regime responds to strength. The UCC believes it's past time for Canada and their allies to show this strength in the face of increasing Russian aggression and pressure.
We call on the committee to do the following. First, urge the Government of Canada to revoke the permits issued on July 9, 2022, by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, which allow for the repair and transport of six Siemens Nord Stream 1 turbines over a period of two years to the Russian state gas monopoly, Gazprom.
Second, support the designation of the Russian Federation as a state sponsor of terrorism.
Third, support the expulsion from Canada of the ambassador of the Russian Federation and the Russian diplomatic mission.
Fourth, support the suspension of the issuing of travel visas by Canada to all citizens of the Russian Federation.
Finally, and most importantly, we believe the tide of Russia’s genocidal war against Ukraine is being turned on the battlefield by the Ukrainian people's heroic defence of their country. We know that the Government of Canada can continue to play a leadership role in ensuring that the Ukrainian people have the equipment, weapons and means with which to finish the fight and ensure the victory of freedom over tyranny.
There was $500 million allocated in budget 2022 for military and security support to Ukraine. Those funds have been spent and exhausted, so we urge this committee to support us in reviewing the ways that Canada can substantially increase its military assistance to Ukraine going forward.
We look forward to your questions and to discussing Canada’s support for Ukraine. I would also note that the committee may wish to consider in the future a working visit to Ukraine, as we've seen legislatures from many countries visit Kyiv and Ukraine to talk to their Ukrainian counterparts and get a sense of the matters on the ground.
With that, I will close my remarks. We're open to questions.
Thank you, Mr. Chair.