HANSARD: Reaction to comment made by the new Alberta premier on Ukraine

Citizenship and Immigration
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings
October 18th, 2022 / 11:35 a.m.

Jenny Kwan Vancouver East, BC

Madam Speaker, I am happy to enter into this debate today.

As we know, the situation in Ukraine is something the House condemns. The war that has been waged is an illegal war by Russia. The targets of this war are as clear as day. We see it in the news and we hear it from Canadians who have loved ones in Ukraine. We hear it from people who have fled Ukraine and are in Canada.

The news continuously reports the fact that Russia is targeting civilians and public spaces. Children are getting injured and killed. Just hours ago, a news report said that a woman, who was six months pregnant, was killed. That is the reality of what is going on in this illegal war.

My colleague, the member for Edmonton Strathcona, spoke very clearly about the new Alberta premier. I also wonder what the Conservatives in the House think about the comments of the newly minted premier of Alberta as they related to Ukraine. How is it even possible that the Conservatives are completely silent about that? The Conservative members stood with all of us in The House to condemn this illegal war, to say that we stood on the side of Ukraine. We all gathered in the House repeatedly to send that message.

We now have a Canadian premier, the newly minted premier of Alberta, Danielle Smith, who has come out with those comments to not stand with Ukraine. That is more than shocking and disappointing.

We are talking about the need to stand for democracy, because underneath everything, it is all about that, standing and fighting for democracy across the globe. When it is under attack, we need to be on the right side of history.

Individuals have contacted my office about loved ones who are Russians and are conscientious objectors to this war. They are being targeted by Putin. They need to find a way to get to safety. Right now our immigration measures do not really have a specific measure to support people in Russia who are against this war.

We just heard from my colleague of individuals who literally put their lives on the line. They have been imprisoned, tortured and brutalized because they are against this war, yet they have no ability to find safety.

The question is, what can we do in Canada to support Russians who are against this war? Other colleagues have asked this question as well. I think all members in the House have had constituents contact them to ask what can be done. This motion speaks to that and it is important to look for and examine different ways that this can be done.

For Canadians who are watching this unfold, Canada is doing some work, and absolutely we do need to step up on sanctions to be clear in our support for Ukraine. The question, of course, becomes, given the state of play and where things are, what more can we do to work with our allied countries to support Ukraine? How can we do this work in such a way that will bring an end to the war and ultimately aim to save lives?

Therefore, I will say the comment from Danielle Smith is not at all helpful. On the contrary, it is so disturbing that for Conservative members in this House to be silent about it and for the leader of the Conservatives to be silent about it sends all the wrong messages to everyone who is watching what is going on, and not just here in Canada. This war is impacting the entire global community. Everyone's eyes are on this. Where is that leadership? Is there any ability for the Conservatives to set aside the partisan politics for one minute and be on the right side of the issue?

The Assistant Deputy Speaker (Mrs. Alexandra Mendès) Alexandra Mendes

An hon. member

Oh, oh!
Can we have some order and allow the hon. member to make her speech without interruption?

The hon. member for Vancouver East.

Jenny Kwan Vancouver East, BC

Thank you very much, Madam Chair. I am being heckled by a Conservative member, saying that what I just said is partisan.

It is not about partisanship. It is about standing on the right side of history, sending a unified, clear message from all Canadians that we are against this war, and that even the Premier of Alberta does not get away with the nonsense and the disgusting comments that have been made about Ukraine. It does not matter who they are. 

This war that Putin and Russia have inflicted on Ukraine is an illegal war. There is no justification; there is no excuse whatsoever. If members do not stand in this House to send that message, then they have to be responsible for the horrible news that is hitting our news waves every minute of the day about people dying, about pregnant women getting killed, about children in day cares getting bombed and about residential buildings being on fire and people jumping out of the buildings just to try to survive. That is what this is all about, and it is about democracy for all of us. If any member stands in this House, as the Conservatives often do, and says that they fight for democracy, well then they should fight for it and call people out, even if they are their friends, when they make comments that are so despicable as what Danielle Smith has said.

We are here in this House. Of course we are discussing this. The Conservatives are asking and heckling me once again. They are asking, why are we in this House? We are in this House today and I am saying for the Conservative members to call on the premier in Alberta to stop and to desist and to apologize and take those comments back now. I am saying they should send a clear message from all Canadians with the leadership that is required, and send this message to Putin and to Russia: We will always be on the side of Ukraine and be on the right side of history; they should cease and desist with this illegal war.

Kevin Lamoureux Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons
Winnipeg North, Manitoba

Madam Speaker, the only thing I would add to the member's comments is a reflection in terms of our Ukrainian heritage community in Canada. There are 1.3 million people of Ukrainian heritage, and it goes well beyond the people of Ukrainian heritage, I must say, but when they hear a leader who sits in the chair of a premier, it draws a great deal of attention. I wonder if the member could provide her thoughts in regard to the people of Canada and how they might be interpreting what this newly elected premier has stated.

Jenny Kwan Vancouver East, BC

Madam Speaker, I cannot imagine what Ukrainians here in Canada must think when they hear those comments. I cannot imagine what Ukrainians, who are faced with this war in Ukraine, where their loved ones, children, women and civilians are getting killed, must be thinking. I cannot imagine what the global community must be thinking of Canada, when we have a premier, in that kind of leadership role, making that kind of comment. It is shocking. I am not Ukrainian, and I am so angry about it. It is unjustified and unacceptable, and there must be an apology—

Cathay Wagantall Yorkton—Melville, SK

Madam Speaker, I really appreciated listening to what the member had to say today. I certainly share her grief over the number of people who are being attacked in this whole situation in Ukraine, which is very dear to me as my mom is from there.

She also spoke about the fact that many people are dying and drew attention to the pregnant women, who are in their most vulnerable state, who are being killed, and specifically in relation to the loss of a child in the womb in this circumstance of an illegal war. I would like to ask her, in this case, if she has that same feeling with respect to a third party attacking any woman who is pregnant and causing her to lose the child she is choosing to carry to term.

Jenny Kwan Vancouver East, BC

Madam Speaker, seriously, I will just say this to the member. For the sentiment she has expressed about pregnant Ukrainian women getting killed, maybe she can send this message to the Premier of Alberta: Apologize.

Charlie Angus Timmins—James Bay, ON

Madam Speaker, one of the really disturbing things that Premier Danielle Smith used her platform for was to say that Ukraine has nuclear weapons, which we know is false. This is part of the Putin propaganda. When we raise Danielle Smith in the House, we have not seen a single Conservative speak up, yet the member for Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan decided to try to avoid the conversation about the refusal of the Conservatives to denounce pro-Putin propaganda and start speaking about nuclear disarmament.

I find it ironic that when the Conservatives are asked to make a simple statement as to whether they support Danielle Smith's claims that Ukraine deserved the attack and that Russia had a right to be upset with it, and the other falsehoods she is perpetuating, we have not seen a single Alberta Conservative stand up and say it is wrong.

I want to ask my hon. colleague this. Why does she think the member for Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan and the rest of the Alberta and Saskatchewan caucuses are rallying to try to divert attention from the despicable language coming out of the Premier of Alberta regarding pro-Putin propaganda?

Jenny Kwan Vancouver East, BC

Madam Speaker, my colleague is dead on with his comments. It is despicable. It is wrong.

It is funny that the Conservatives cannot find the courage to speak up, at least not so far. I would ask any one of them to say clearly that what the Premier of Alberta has said is wrong and to demand an apology. It is so important for Canadians to stand united and send a clear message. We cannot afford to have a premier in this country say that the war that Putin has waged on Ukraine is justified.

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