Thursday, July 18, 2024
 
 

Canada and aiding the democratic cause in Ukraine

A member of the Canadian Armed Forces trains Ukrainian troops.

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Though the funding of Ukraine’s war against Russia remains the main topic of the American Congress, Ukraine’s relationship with its other key Western partners, like Canada, cannot be neglected. 

Ukrainians fully realize that they are fighting for a particular set of values, values with which they hold in common with Canadians. They wonder, however, that after nearly two years of aggressive hostilities, a tragic loss of life, and the destruction of infrastructure comparable to the Second World War, what does it mean to “defeat” its totalitarian foe, and for these democratic values to prevail?

At present, Ukrainians are asking, “What is a ‘win’?” and are also speculating as to how serious its allies in the West are in seeing the ultimate objective of finally fully “de-Russfying” Ukraine and establishing a law-based international order in the region.

If Ukraine were to ultimately fall to Vladimir Putin’s forces, it would signal the ultimate discrediting of the West’s liberal and democratic values. This means the demise of a liberal and democratic world order based on rules and law.  

It is in Canada’s interest to continue to support Ukraine in its fight for its existence as a sovereign and European independent state that is fully prepared to finally take its rightful place in the family of democratic nations.

The war in Ukraine is an example of a clear conflict between two orders, that of an authoritarian dictatorship and a country that wants to establish a democratic order. Russia does not want this and has turned to genocidal practices to see that this does not happen. Thus, in this case, there can be no middle ground. Furthermore, there cannot be normal relations with a country that breaks international law, which bombs civilian infrastructure, tortures and rapes, and kidnaps children.

In addition, Ukraine is fighting an internal war against Russian-aligned corruption elements. They want Ukraine to surrender and expect a counter-culture revolt against the West and its values. They are framing the argument that the West is “selling out” Ukraine and forcing Ukraine into a position of surrendering to Russian geo-political and economic interests.

What role can Canada play in aiding Ukraine in this precarious time? In supporting Ukraine, Canada fulfills its historic role as a nation known for supporting national sovereignty, civil order based on justice, equality of opportunity, economic fairness, and an end to corruption.

Canada’s national interests include a rules-based international order

Support for Ukraine is justified because Canadians realize that Russia’s transgression of international law will ultimately affect them and the nature of the world in which they live and thrive.

What happens in Ukraine will affect Canadians’ feeling of security. Russia’s war is a disruption to the democratic cause. It hinders the pursuit of trade within the context of free markets. And not to be trivial, it also causes the price of grain and the cost of bread to rise on Canadian shelves.

Not supporting Ukraine implies that the Western world has abdicated its desire and responsibility to uphold the international rule of law. Moscow’s war on Ukraine, a sovereign and independent European state, represents a scenario, that if not directly confronted, will not only encourage the Russian and Chinese spheres of influence in their drive to create illegal international disorder through patronage networks and established oligarchic clans to continue their control of their economies and societies. This type of corruption has negative effects on the free movement of goods and has deleterious effects on the operation of free markets.

This is a war about values. For Ukraine, to lose would be an example for the world that in the ideas and values war being presently played outthe Western view of freedom and rules-based societies would ultimately be defeated by authoritarian dictatorships

To meet the objective of maintaining a world based on liberal democratic values, Canada must continue to play a key role in the development of a stable Ukraine. Its generous financial contributions to the stability of Ukraine during the war cannot be measured.

Though its military contribution during the war has been, at best, “humble”; Canada has played a vital role in state-building since 2014 when both Liberal and Conservative governments assisted in the transformation of Ukraine.

Canada has contributed to funding and aiding in the development of medical reforms and developed and aided in the establishment of justice reforms. More recently, the Canadian contribution has included the development and implementation of reforms in military medical care. Most noticeably, Canada has contributed to national and local police reforms.

A historic practitioner of “soft power”

Canada should fund an “Institute of Government”, where politicians and civil servants across all levels of government will be allowed to explore the meaning of “peace, order, and good government”. There is a great need for the rehabilitation of injured soldiers. There is no excuse for Canada not to lead in the establishment of a world-class rehabilitation hospital for Ukraine’s warriors.

Furthermore, Canada must encourage and fund opportunities for the implementation of training programs for the Ukrainian military and lead in the formulation of legal policy to ensure that Russian financial assets will be used to pay for the rebuilding of Ukraine.

These specialties exist within Canadian society and must be used as such endeavors in “institution building” would bring long-term benefits and stability to Ukraine.

Canada’s success and influence in Ukraine depend on its diplomatic ability to show how Canada’s inclusive and egalitarian way of life is superior to the oligarch-based caste systems propagated by the Kremlin.

The essential element of building the Ukrainian nation is the recognition of the importance of transferring the values of Canadian culture and society into a post-Soviet context. The framework of “values transference” must become the guiding principle of Canada’s foreign policy towards Kyiv.

Canada’s voice must be reasserted

For several years, Canada has been ineffectual; with little noticeable impact on the internal discussion within Ukraine. Its moral voice and expression of core democratic values must be continually disseminated within Ukrainian society to ensure that the seeds of transformation are firmly implanted in its societal soil.

The message must be simple: Canada is in a “partnership” with Ukraine, not as a colony, but as equals amongst nations. This means that Canada not only stands with Kyiv in its ongoing war against the Russian Federation, but that Ottawa is committed to using its soft power to aid Ukraine in the development and implementation of transformative principles within their society.

Canada must vociferously insist that the values that the two countries hold in common, specifically, the pursuit of justice before the law for all, the equality of opportunity, tolerance, economic fairness, the fight against corruption, and the pursuit of individual freedoms are the bell weather principles for successful diplomacy and the basis of the way forward.

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