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It's Time for the Harper Government to Back Up Its Words of Support for Ukraine

08/01/2014 01:18 EDT | Updated 10/01/2014 05:59 EDT
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Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird offered additional words of support for Ukraine recently, as did the Prime Minister. However, these words ring hollow since we learned that the government has not yet delivered on its commitment to provide much needed assistance to the people of Ukraine.

Canada announced a $200-million-plus financial assistance package for Ukraine in mid-March. However, as of the end of July, this assistance has yet to actually be delivered; an unfortunate reality that has caused the Ukrainian Ambassador to Canada to express profound concern. While we have heard that bureaucratic delays are the cause, these justifications provide no relief for Ukrainians or for the government of Ukraine, which is already facing very difficult circumstances as a result of ongoing Russian aggression, a weakened economy, and tens of thousands of internal refugees.

Both the United States and the European Union have committed or already supplied billions of dollars of financial aid through loans and loan guarantees. Meanwhile, Canada has not delivered on its own promises of financial aid, all the while ignoring requests from the Ukrainian government for life-saving, non-lethal military aid and training in areas such as anti-terrorist operations.

Unfortunately this is part of a pattern by the Harper government to "talk tough" but not take the required actions to back up that talk; this gap between words and actions seriously undermines Canada's credibility abroad.

Canadians and the Liberal Party of Canada stand united with the people of Ukraine. Now is the time to offer them real support as they undertake reforms that are essential for a prosperous and democratic future. Ukraine has requested equipment such as body armour, communication technology and medical supplies.

Surely this is something Canada can provide in an expeditious manner but the federal government has thus far failed to provide this much-needed assistance and the clock keeps ticking. Ukrainians are fighting bravely to protect their country from Russian aggression. They need our help, not just our words.

Today, we are calling on the federal government to honour its commitments by immediately delivering economic and governance assistance, as well as non-lethal military aid, to Ukraine. Canada must seize this opportunity, not only to help build peace, but to help build a lasting, thriving, and modern Ukrainian economy in which Canada is a key partner.

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