Ukraine has been in the news a lot for the past several months — first as pro-European Union demonstrators filled the streets, and now with added interference from Russia.
Homegrown support for the Ukrainian people has been pouring out of Manitoba this entire time. It’s easy to see why. According to Statistics Canada, there are more than 100,000 men and women in Winnipeg alone who are proud to call themselves Ukrainians.
Ukrainians have been settling here for more than a century. In Manitoba, and more broadly, Canada, we have been fortunate that we can take for granted the peace and stability that comes with freedom, democracy, and the rule of law. Many of these things have been woefully absent in much of Eastern Europe over the last century. The region is still recovering.
Large-scale demonstrations of support for the rights of the Ukrainian people have recently been organized by our fellow citizens right here in Winnipeg. I have found them to be truly encouraging and I hope Ukrainians find comfort in the solidarity and support they receive from so many other places.
Last month my colleagues and I joined with the entire legislature with unanimous support for the new government in Ukraine and to condemn violent anti-democratic actions perpetrated against Ukraine by Russian forces.
I am proud of the position of our country on the recent developments and the Minister of Foreign Affairs’ decision to impose economic sanctions against Russia for violating the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine. We stand with them in calling on the international community to do the same and to respect the territorial integrity of Ukraine.
Our federal government can, through trade policy, impose sanctions on Russia as a way of punishing Russia’s economy. Trade policies are, of course, decided by the government of Canada and not the province, but we citizens have that same power in our collective hands.
We are empowered by the choices we make at the store to choose to buy products from companies we trust and which have a good social conscience. In the same way, we are free to choose to avoid products which are produced by a country that has overstepped its bounds and ignores our ideals about human rights and democracy.