By ELIZABETH MAY
In your last issue, writer Colin Ross was unfortunately misinformed as to the position of the Green Party of Canada on Canadian support for Ukraine. Let me put the important clarification front and centre.
The Green Party of Canada, like Green Party colleagues around the world, condemns the illegal war and brutal aggression by Russian forces against Ukraine. We support unequivocally all actions taken by our government: sending arms, invoking sanctions and other measures to assist Ukraine. I was honoured to make those commitments directly to President Volodymyr Zelensky following his historic speech to our Parliament on March 15, 2022.
The 80 national Green parties around the world are all committed to six core Green values. One of these is to promote non-violence and peace. In the over 40 years that Green parties have existed globally, the illegal and immoral war launched by Russia against Ukraine is the very first time that Greens have supported military aid.
This statement from the European Union Greens is a good summary of where we stand: “The European Green family condemns President Putin’s war against Ukraine in the strongest way possible. Russia’s full-fledged invasion constitutes an outright attack on Ukraine’s sovereignty and is a flagrant violation of international law.
This is not only an attack on Ukraine’s territorial integrity, but a brutal attack on the rule of law, democracy and peace in Europe.
We welcome the sanctions that have been imposed by the EU and its allies. Europe must remain united and extend its sanctions as part of a coordinated effort.
We also welcome the German government’s decisive action to freeze the Nord Stream 2 gas project, and the instrumental role played by the German Greens (Bündnis 90/Die Grünen) in this decision. The crisis illustrates the strategic necessity to be energetically independent from fossil fuels. Energy policy is a question of security.
The respect of Ukraine’s sovereignty implies the respect for its right to freely choose its alliances. Ukraine has a right to freedom and democracy, and we must act swiftly to protect these rights.
We therefore call for:
• Additional sanctions to be stepped up and implemented quickly by the EU and all its member states
• The exclusion of Russian banks from the SWIFT international banking network
• Stopping the import of gas, oil and minerals from Russia as soon as possible
• All former EU and member state governmental representatives to withdraw from functions in Russian companies
• The seizure of all assets of Russian officials responsible for backing this invasion and the freezing of Putin’s assets
• Extended support for Ukrainian refugees, including the provision of shelters, medical aid and information, as well as the creation of humanitarian corridors
• Continued diplomatic efforts in the pursuit of a peaceful outcome
• Speeding up the energy transition to replace Europe’s imported gas and oil dependency to enhance our energy independence and security
• A solidarity instrument including enhanced financial support (not limited to loans and credit guarantees) for Ukraine
• Financial assistance for member states to help deal with the economic consequences of imposed sanctions
• Enhancing the EU’s cyber-security capabilities and a more robust EU strategy on tackling large-scale disinformation campaigns.
The European Green Party stands firmly with Ukraine and extends its solidarity to its people. We will be joining the gatherings calling for peace and an end to Russian aggression that are happening across Europe, to show our support for Ukraine. We encourage all European citizens to join us.”
As you can see, we do continue to call for peace talks (in bullet #7), but never a cessation of support for Ukraine, nor the “pathetic . . . shameful appeasement” assumed by the letter writer.
Unfortunately, calling for diplomatic efforts to be intensified to seek any path to peace, while also supporting military assistance, as I did in Parliament on Feb. 4, 2023, was seen as a weakening of support for Ukraine.
This is not only unfortunate but reflects a simplification of dialogue and a rapid polarization among people who actually agree with one another.
As a parenthetical point, having left Green leadership in 2019, and been recently elected as Leader of the Green Party of Canada, sharing the work load with deputy leader Jonathan Pedneault, I have found a sharp contrast in media coverage and discourse since when I last did this job.
I find that people (media and public) are on a hair trigger: quick to anger, to make assumptions and denounce. Especially in politics, people are slow to consider and ponder and give the benefit of the doubt.
These tendencies, fuelled by the lightning fast algorithms of “rage-farming” in social media, are really dangerous to our democracy.
That said, on no issue as much as on defence of Ukraine, Canadians are remarkably united. We must continue and intensify efforts. We must end the billions flowing to Russia for oil. Russia must face the reality of Putin’s tragic miscalculation.
Ukrainian democracy will overcome and emerge to a peaceful future. Canada must continue to support Ukraine and — once the war is over — remain committed to the rebuilding of Ukraine and a restoration of its environment.
Thank you for the opportunity to correct the record.
Elizabeth May, O.C., is the Member of Parliament for Saanich-Gulf Islands and leader of the Green Party of Canada.