Ralph Goodale on the Right to Democracy. Ralph displays his wealth of knowledge of democratic systems and lawmaking...
RALPH GOODALE’S REPORT
A commentary by the Member of Parliament for Wascana
January 7th, 2012
UKRAINE STILL STRUGGLING FOR DEMOCRACY
This week, many Ukrainian Canadians are celebrating Orthodox Christmas, and then Malanka – New Year’s! Greetings and best wishes to all those of the Orthodox faith who practice their sacred traditions according to the Julian calendar.
Ukrainian settlement in Canada began 122 years ago. Some 1.3-million Canadians can trace their family heritage to Ukraine, including 13% of Saskatchewan’s population.
But even as they celebrate this joyous season, many will be thinking about the difficult struggle for true democracy which continues in Ukraine unabated.
The Parliamentary elections held this past fall were again tainted by serious irregularities. Corruption is a big problem. The main leaders of the democratic opposition are in jail. Academic and religious freedoms are under pressure. Freedom of the press is compromised. Human rights and the rule of law are in jeopardy.
Eugenia Tymoshenko, the daughter of jailed former-premier Yulia Tymoshenko, is calling for international sanctions against the current regime of President Viktor Yanukovych. So what can/should Canada do?
Our response needs to be carefully tuned and targeted to have the most useful effect, including:
· Relentless lobbying for the release of political prisoners and competent independent medical care for them in the meantime;
· Adjustments in Canada’s foreign aid to focus on democratic development and the successful functioning of civil society;
· Encouragement for Canadian broadcasters and business-people to invest in independent media outlets and honest news coverage in Ukraine;
· Insistence that any Trade Agreements between Canada and Ukraine must include enforceable provisions about the rule of law and respect for human rights;
· Canadian leadership through the G-8, G-20, IMF and UN to combat money laundering and obstruct the world travels and illicit business operations of oligarchs and corrupt officials.
This latter point may be among the most important. The objective would be to prevent those who undermine democracy, violate human rights and flout the rule of law from jet-setting around the globe with impunity, enjoying the fruits of their misbehaviour.
Canada could not accomplish such a result all on our own, but we could be an advocate and catalyst to bring the US, the EU and other nations into an effective partnership to this end. We need to have an impact before the next presidential elections in 2015.
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