Canada's Minister of
Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism (the Hon. Jason Kenney) recently sent round this statement by the Minister of Foreign Affairs (the Hon. John Baird) in Question Period condemning the political persecution of Ukrainian opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko:
Mr. Speaker, Ukraine has undergone a considerable transformation since the beginning of the Orange Revolution. However, what originally seemed an unstoppable wave of democratic freedom has since gone sour with the news that former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko is being politically persecuted.
Would the Minister of Foreign Affairs please make crystal clear for the House Canada's concerns with Ukraine's political situation?
Hon. John Baird (Minister of Foreign Affairs, CPC):
Mr. Speaker, our Government has expressed to the Ukrainian government our serious concern about the apparent bias in the ongoing judicial proceedings against former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko. Political persecution is completely unacceptable. The appearance of political bias in judicial proceedings undermines the rule of law.
We urge, here today, the Ukrainian government to strengthen judiciary independence. We will continue to support efforts to build a peaceful democratic and prosperous society in Ukraine.
Can't you just see that stern statement making the thugs running Ukraine absolutely shiver in their boots, and setting them scrambling to set Ms. Tymoshenko free any moment ... and ditch their political bias forthwith?
Gosh, Canada is just such powerhouse on the international stage. No need to actually do anything besides express concern, eh?
No need for economic sanctions like those against, say, Côte d'Ivoire or Burma ... or even the lame sanctions against Belarus. Nor a travel ban against Yanukhovych and corrupt officials (in particular the judge who holds Tymoshenko's fate in his hands, and who appears to be far from unbiased).
No, all that's needed is for Canada to remind the Yanukhovych regime and the corrupt officials in Ukraine of the obvious and say:
Yes, we in Canada are concerned doncha know, so you just better smarten up, you guys over there in Ukraine. Strengthen judiciary independence for chrissakes and get those annoying Ukrainian Canadian voters off our backs.
Or in the immortal words of Foghorn Leghorn: Go away boy, ya bother me!
Meanwhile, the Kyiv Post reports that the show trial has been put on hold for a couple of weeks. Seems the Yanukhovych regime needs time to ponder the optics of their politicial vendetta.
This is not a time to sit back and hope for the best. If Canada and the west really truly support Ukraine's fledgling democracy, then they need to firmly, unequivocally impress upon Ukraine's ruling elite that the major underpinnings of a functioning democracy are accountability, transparency and honesty.
Because really, that is all that voters in Ukraine, Canada, or anywhere else, want.
Meaningful action at a time when Ukraine's corrupt rulers are vulnerable could tip the scale and significantly strengthen democracy in Ukraine.
So how about it?