[ SkipToMainMenu ]

Question Period — Foreign Affairs Support for Ukraine

Hon. Peter Harder:

Honourable senators, my question is for the Government Representative in the Senate. By way of preamble, let me associate myself strongly with the comments made by Senator Smith in his eloquent statement about the need for solidarity and collective action in the face of the events with which we are so much preoccupied.

At the same time, I would like to disassociate myself from those would-be leaders who have said that Europe has been weak in its response. I do not believe that Europe has been weak or that the alliance has been weak. I particularly point to the German response, the Polish invitation to receive refugees without limit, the actions being taken by Turkey and, outside of NATO, the actions taken by Switzerland — which are quite unique and historic — in bringing a collective approach to both sanctions and actions.

Clearly, due to the events of the last few days, particularly in light of the efforts of Ukrainians themselves in resisting this aggression, new strategic opportunities have presented themselves that weren’t even on the table a few days ago.

I wonder if the Government Representative could tell us whether or not the Government of Canada is considering ways of supporting the military efforts, the combatants in Ukraine — short of a no-fly zone — that perhaps were not on the NATO to‑do list a few days ago but may well be there now. Are there other solutions about which the Government Representative could inquire of the government that would help Ukrainians defend the skies in their jurisdiction?

Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate) 

Thank you very much for your question.

With regard to the first part of your comments, the Government of Canada is working very closely with its European allies and would agree with you that the response of Europeans has been clear, strong and, we hope, effective.

Canada has provided, at the request of Ukraine, not only financial and humanitarian support but in fact what is called “lethal” support. A day does not go by without additional measures certainly being considered and often announced. For example, on March 1 Minister Anand announced the fourth tranche of military aid to be provided to Ukraine to bolster their existence. It includes 1,600 fragmentation vests and just under 400,000 individual meal packs. This comes in addition to the first few tranches of aid announced throughout the past month, including antitank weapons systems, pistols, body armour, 1.5 million rounds of ammunition, helmets and gas masks. This represents significant investment. But the government continues to work with its allies and work in contact with the people of Ukraine to see what more can be done.

Hon. Peter Harder:

My supplementary, senator. The humanitarian crisis that one can imagine unfolding in the coming days and weeks will require more than even the generous $100 million that Canada has already offered. I’m particularly concerned about the supply chains necessary to get humanitarian aid on the ground. I wonder if the senator can make inquiries with respect to how the supply, assembly, transport and distribution of humanitarian aid, which will be so necessary for not only days but months ahead, can be assured by the actions of Canada and its allies?

Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate) 

Indeed, I’ll certainly make inquiries. As we know, Minister Joly is currently in Poland. Poland is an important ally in this regard. News reports do reveal challenges at the border. And I will certainly make those inquiries and report back to the extent that I can.