Canada’s Parliament condemns politically motivated selective justice in Tymoshenko sentence
October 18, 2011-Ottawa, Canada- The House of Commons concluded at 10:30 p.m. a rare four hour emergency debate on the decline in the state of democracy in Ukraine where all political parties unanimously condemned the politically motivated selective justice and sentencing in the case of former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko.
“In a session attended by Canada’s Foreign Minister, the Honourable John Baird, the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, the Honourable Peter Van Loan, the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, the Honourable Jason Kenney, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Foreign Minister, Bob Dechert, the Chair of the Canada Ukraine Parliamentary Friendship Group, Robert Sopuck, senior opposition MPs Peggy Nash, and former Justice Minister Irwin Cotler and many dozens of other individual members of Parliament, the message from Canada was clear, ” stated UCC’s Executive Director Taras Zalusky who attended the debate. “If Ukraine wants to be considered a democratic country among the nations of the world, Ukraine must put an end to politically motivated show trials and reprisals against opposition politicians.”
“The House of Commons unanimously expressed its concerns regarding the ongoing erosion of democracy in Ukraine, including most recently the politically motivated and deliberate prosecution and conviction of former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko by Ukrainian authorities among other opposition leaders, ” stated UCC National President Paul Grod.
“I want to thank the Members of Parliament who took part in this debate from all political parties for showing their deep concern over the erosion of democracy and the rule of law in Ukraine, ” continued Grod. “Canada’s House of Commons in one voice tonight expressed support for continued engagement of Ukraine and its continued democratic development”
The Ukrainian Canadian community wishes to foster positive relations between Canada and Ukraine.
Despite numerous pronouncements by the Government of Ukraine to the contrary, there is abundant and growing evidence that Ukraine is reverting to an authoritarian model of governance. This has negative implications for the stability of the entire region, and there is a growing threat of a physical confrontation between civil society and Ukrainian authorities as the government moves to systematically reverse the democratic gains made by the Orange Revolution.
Proposed Ukraine Strategy for the Government of Canada
Engagement – Any actions by the Government of Canada must not result in the isolation of Ukraine. Otherwise, Ukraine will slip back into Russia’s sphere of influence thereby losing its sovereignty. The strategy should be two-pronged: i) government to government pressure; and ii) support for civil society.
Review of Priorities for Canada-Ukraine Relations (RoadMap) signed 2 years ago between Canada and Ukraine.
Refocus CIDA strategy – CIDA should focus on supporting Ukrainian NGOs that establish and strengthen political and civic organizations, safeguard elections, and promote citizen participation, openness and accountability in government.
Robust election monitoring. The October 2012 Parliamentary elections in Ukraine will be the only meaningful opportunity to balance power as today both the Parliament and Judiciary are controlled by the President. Sending election observers on the day of the elections, although necessary is not enough. Long-term monitoring and reporting are critical. There is a serious concern with the upcoming parliamentary elections. How can they be declared free and fair if the leaders of two opposition parties, including the leader of the official opposition are not able to participate?
Support for independent media – today there are significant threats to media freedoms.
Reinstate Radio Canada International Ukraine Programming – ensure Canadian values are broadcast in Ukraine.
A full transcript of the debate will be available at www.parl.gc.ca.