On February 27, 2023 AUUC National President Glenn Michalchuk told council peace and diplomacy have been “distinctly lacking” in the
Canadian government’s response to the war.
“Canada must emphasize the need to bring peace to Ukraine and act accordingly. The strategy of more weapons to support more war has been a failure,” he said.
Let me just briefly explain who I represent. I am the National President of the Association of United Ukrainian Canadians. Our National Office is located in Winnipeg and adjacent to the Ukrainian Labour Temple which is a National Historic Site. The AUUC is oldest mass secular organization of Ukrainians who came to Canada to start a new life. It has existed for 100 years and throughout has represented the strivings of Ukrainian Canadians both settled and newcomers. The first of the Labour Temples to be built as part of our organization was the Labour Temple in Welland.
I would like to thank the Mayor and Council for the opportunity to speak tonight.
Ending the war in Ukraine is of paramount importance. The conflict threatens peace in Europe. Escalation of the conflict threatens world peace and security. Canadians have been impacted by the conflict. Ukraine has been devasted by the conflict. Millions have fled the country. Thousands have died or been injured. The country`s infrastructure and environment have been damaged and it will take billions of dollars to repair this.
This war, its destruction and collateral damage to the world economy and supply of food could have been averted. Before the outbreak of this war the AUUC called for diplomacy and negotiations for peace. Our position was not unique to the AUUC - it was a widespread sentiment amongst Canadians. It was the position of the people of Ukraine. Once the war broke out we called for its resolution through diplomacy and peace negotiations. Again this was not a position unique to the AUUC.
A framework for peace existed in the Minsk Agreements - signed by Russia, Ukraine, Germany and France and ratified by the UN Security Council. We have since learned that averting this war was not in the cards. On February 24 war broke out - much larger than the civil war that waged in eastern Ukraine since 2014. There was the possibility to stop it. We know the peace talks of April 2022 between Russia and Ukraine were scuttled. We have now had 10 months of war that was preventable..
The resolution before Council tonight is not a resolution which will bring the conflict any closer to resolution. Weapons have fueled this conflict. The desire to maintain the flow of weapons has escalated the conflict. In the resolution before you it specifically calls for continued military assistance. Canada would do better to call for resolution of the conflict by supporting the majority of nations who want the conflict to end. Instead of fueling the war Canada should support the diplomatic initiatives to bring the warring parties to agree to a ceasefire, negotiations for settlement of the issues that underlie this war and the achievement of a peace agreement.
Peace and diplomacy is distinctly lacking in the Canadian government actions in response to this war. Increasing numbers of Canadians believe this is what should be done. It would be of significance if the St. Catharines City Council did likewise -- supporting peace initiatives instead of military initiatives as the means to end this war. If we are to avert more destruction to Ukraine and the danger of this war escalating to the possibility of conflict between NATO and Russia then we must all support the initiatives that are underway to end the conflict.
Internationally, these initiatives are led by Turkey, Brazil, India, China, South Africa and, of course, the United Nations. We know the President of Ukraine has responded positively to the China initiative released on Friday. We know that Russia has also indicated its willingness to enter peace negotiations.
The world may be a moment like that in April of last year when there was a real possibility of ending the war. This moment should not be lost but I fear that may be the case. I have watched events in Ukraine very closely both before and after the Russian invasion of February 24. The people of Ukraine wanted peace after 8 years of civil war. President Zelensky was elected on a platform of peace but was prevented by opposition forces in Ukraine which did not want peace.
At this critical moment we hear the call for escalation through more weapons. Canada can play a critical role in changing what is happening, but it needs to change what it is doing. Canada must emphasize the need to bring peace to Ukraine and act accordingly. The strategy of more weapons to support more war has been a failure.
In conclusion, I would urge Councilors to take a stand which will push forward ending this war and securing peace. I have spoken many times on this. I have said that the war could have been averted but was not and once it started could be stopped. The policy of weapons and war has been disastrous.