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Ukrainian president gets House of Commons standing ovation

"We are told we've done too little, and in a way we've done it too late." ~ Bloc Quebocois Leader Yves-François Blanchet

Tuesday March 15, 2022 | NATIONAL & INTERNATIONAL [composed from Langford, BC] | Last update: 4 pm

by Mary P Brooke, Editor | Island Social Trends

Perhaps a large number of Canadians paused today at 8:15 am (PDT) to listen to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy deliver a live address this country’s House of Commons; it was a joint session of MPs and the Senate.

[Link to CPAC recording of Zelenskyy’s speech to Canada’s House of Commons March 15, 2022]

A date in history:

“Beware the Ides of March”, wrote Shakespeare about 425 years ago, about the date of March 15 on the Roman calendar. March 15 was marked by several religious observances and was notable for the Romans as a deadline for settling debts. In 44 BC, the date of March 15 had become notorious as the date of the assassination of Julius Caesar, which made the Ides of March a turning point in Roman history.

Volodymyr Zelenskyy, President of Ukraine, addressed Canada’s House of Commons via videolink on March 15, 2022.

Big-screen delivery:

By the benefit of virtual technologies, President Zelenskyy addressed Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and all Members of Parliament, with a 12-minute speech (longer if you include lengthy applause) that was intended to pull on heart strings along with repeating the ask for continued support for Ukraine’s battle against the Russian aggressor that began February 24.

The war has quickly been recognized by the free world as a fight for the principles and reality of democracy and freedom. Zelenskyy addressed the British parliament last week.

Young leaders, big countries:

These are two relatively young leaders of geographically large and countries with energetic goals. Trudeau is 51. Zelenskyy is 44. They both have young families.

horgan, mla

Now 97 children in Ukraine have died during the now 20-day war. Zelenskyy asked Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in personal terms to imagine how it would be if he and his family were in direct danger of bombs, and stretched the comparison to all Canadians in major cities across this country.

Zelenskyy specifically mentioned Vancouver as a port city in comparison to the port city of Mariupol that has been besieged now in war by the Russians.

Asking for more:

Zelenskyy said that he sees Canada as “a reliable partner to Ukraine and Ukrainians”. He added: “And I’m sure this will continue.”

yves francois blanchet, bloc
Bloc Quebecois Leader Yves-François Blanchet:”We are told we’ve done too little, and in a way we’ve done it too late.”

The Ukrainian president thanked Canada (and other western countries) for “humanitarian assistance and serious sanctions” but said that “unfortunately this did not bring the end of the war”.

“You all need to do more,” said Zelenskyy. He is still asking for a no-fly-zone over his country, to help protect civilians and boost the fighting chance for Ukrainian’s fighting forces.

He is likely to repeat that message in his address to the US Congress tomorrow.

House of Commons words:

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke ahead of Zelenskyy’s talk, saying the war by Russia against Ukraine “is a grave mistake and Putin must stop it now”. Trudeau definitely noted that “Ukrainians are standing up to authoritarianism”.

island social trends
News coverage from Vancouver Island, BC.

After Zellenskyy’s speech, other leadership spoke:

“This is a war of naked aggression,” said Official Opposition Leader Candice Bergen, calling Putin a “war monger” and “a predator” with “no regard for human life”. She said that Conservatives are calling for defense of Ukraine’s air space, at least over humanitarian corridors.

Bloc Quebecois Leader Yves-François Blanchet said: “We are told we’ve done too little, and in a way we’ve done it too late.” He commended Zelenskyy for having “touched the whole world”. Blanchet earmarked the stark fact that “reconstruction will last at least a generation”. He added to Zelenskyy, with great confidence: “You will win. Freedom will be restored to you.”

NDP leader, jagmeet singh
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh on March 15, 2022: “target Putin and his wallet”.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh thanked Zelenskyy for his “courage, inspiration and resilience”. In response to the Ukrainian president’s call for more aide and more quickly, Singh said “we must answer that call” and “provide as much help as possible”. Singh supported the idea that Canada (as a NATO partner) has issued economic sanctions against Russia. Canada must “target Putin and his wallet”, said Singh.

Singh saluted Zelenskyy for exhibiting “rising spirits in the face of difficult odds”. It’s “a defiant opposition” that Ukraine is mounting against Russia. The NDP Leader said Canadians will stand in solidarity with Ukraine.

Elizabeth May — representing The Green Party — made impassioned remarks, asking for creative thinking at such a critical time as war. She noted that Lester B Pearson in 1956 before he was Canada’s 14th prime minister (1963-1968) “invented UN peacekeepers”.

elizabeth may, March 2022
Green Party’s Elizabeth May to Ukraine President Zelenskyy: “You are a champion of democracy.”

May called for Canada “to use every single idea” including finding “a pathway for Putin to make it to a negotiating table”. She heralded Zelenskyy for embodying “the unexpected reality of you”, and called him “a champion of democracy”. And in that context: “We must not let you down,” said May, an MP from this south Vancouver Island Region.

House of Commons Speaker Anthony Rota said to Zelenskyy: “You have proven to be a great leader of your nation.” Adding, with the note that Canada has more than a million people of Ukrainian descent: “You will not be left behind.” Zelenskyy is “showing us the true meaning of courage, freedom and patriotism”, said Rota.

Here in BC:

Last week BC Premier John Horgan said during his media session (March 11), a comment to Russian leader Vladimir Putin: “Step down, step back, and get the heck out of Ukraine.”

randall garrison, ad, 2021

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Ukraine situation reminds Canadians about freedom (Editorial – January 27, 2022)