NEWS RELEASE: Goodale calls for more Canadian action to push Ukraine toward greater democracy
For immediate release
May 17, 2012
LVIV, Ukraine – Wascana Liberal Member of Parliament Ralph Goodale says Canada can and should do more to encourage democracy, freedom, human rights and the rule of law in Ukraine.
Speaking near the end of a six-day, three-city visit to Ukraine by seven MPs representing the House of Commons Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development, Goodale said Canadian policy needs to strike “the right balance of carrots-and-sticks.”
The Committee is being accompanied by Taras Zalusky of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress, Bob Onyschuk of the Canada-Ukraine Foundation and Borys Potapenko of the League of Ukrainian Canadians.
“Nearly 1.3 million Canadians trace their heritage to Ukraine, so Canada cares a great deal what happens here,” Goodale said. “We rejoiced about Ukrainian independence 20 years ago and we were even happier when greater democracy arrived with the Orange Revolution in 2004. But since then, progress has been slow and the country has recently slipped backwards.”
To reinforce the point that “Canada cares” and “the world is watching,” the Parliamentary Committee met with the families and lawyers of jailed political prisoners, citizens groups, independent media, academics, government and opposition leaders, regional officials and others.
They heard troubling reports of election tampering, improper legal proceedings, media muzzling, bribery and corruption.
After two days of hearings in Kyiv, and before finishing their visit in Lviv, the Canadians spent Wednesday in Kharkiv. That being where former Ukrainian Prime Minister Tymoshenko is being held prisoner, and having been denied a formal visit, the MPs stopped by informally at both the hospital where she’s being treated and the prison where she will be returned – just to demonstrate Canada’s deep opposition to Ukraine’s handling of Ms Tymoshenko and many other political leaders.
The Canadians called for competent independent medical attention for all these prisoners, their early release and demonstrably free, fair and transparent elections in Ukraine this fall.
Goodale is already on record urging Canada to supply at least 1,500 qualified observers for those elections, and he wants the mandate of the Canadian International Development Agency to be bolstered to re-emphasize democratic development and support for civil society. He also wants Canadian broadcasters (including Radio-Canada International) to become more deeply engaged in eastern Europe to help ensure an honest independent source of news and information.
In addition, Goodale says Canada should proceed with current negotiations for a Canada-Ukraine Free Trade Agreement, but ratification should be held in abeyance until the credibility of this fall’s elections can be determined.
The former Finance Minister also says Canada should raise in G-8 and G-20 forums next week the issue of money laundering in Ukraine, and the tools available in the international community to restrict the travel and the financial dealings of corrupt government officials and monopolistic oligarchs in the private sector.
Goodale said, “this trip has been invaluable in informing Parliamentarians of both good and bad developments in Ukraine. It has also demonstrated that Canadian concern about Ukraine, and the political will to help, cuts across all Canadian Party lines.”
Goodale thanked Canadian Ambassador Troy Lulashnyk and his staff for excellent advice and support.