North Island-Powell River MP Rachel Blaney voted in favour of the new Canada-Ukraine Free Trade Agreement last week, saying she was proud to do so.
The agreement, which was announced in October, modernizes an existing agreement in light of the Russian invasion in Ukraine.
“The modernized Canada-Ukraine Free Trade Agreement (CUFTA) marks a new era in Canada and Ukraine’s economic relationship and will be fundamental to the participation of Canadian businesses in Ukraine’s economic reconstruction and recovery from Russia’s illegal and unjustified invasion,” says a federal release from October.
The agreement includes new provisions on trade in services, investment, telecommunications, digital trade, labour, environment, and temporary entry for business persons. The agreement also has inclusivity updates, including the first-ever trade and Indigenous Peoples chapter that Canada or Ukraine has ever included in a concluded free trade agreement.
Blaney said she was inspired by people in the North Island-Powell River riding, saying “I was thinking of all the tremendous people in our riding who are working so hard to support Ukraine.
“I’ve been incredibly moved by their actions,” she said. “They are sending supplies and they are sponsoring and supporting refugees in our community. They are giving so much of themselves. That’s why it’s so important to me to vote in favour of the agreement.”
The agreement has not passed in the House of Commons, due to members of the Conservative Party of Canada either voting against it or abstaining because of the use of the term “carbon pricing” in the agreement.
Poilievre called the agreement a “carbon tax deal” after the vote, and said that “it speaks to how pathologically obsessed Trudeau is with the carbon tax.”
During Question Period on Nov. 23, Regina-Qu’Appelle MP Andrew Scheer said the agreement was “disgraceful and cruel,” adding that it was a way to use “Ukraine’s vulnerability while Russian tanks are on its soil to shove a carbon tax permanently down its throat.”
Export and Free Trade minister Mary Ng called this a “red herring,” saying that “even Ukraine, today, clarified that there is no price on pollution in this free trade agreement.”
According to an Aug. 2019 report by the Partnership for Market Readiness on carbon pricing options for Ukraine, the country “introduced a tax on the main pollutant emissions to atmospheric air from stationary sources in 2011, which effectively replaced environmental pollution charges.”
A report by Independent Commodity Intelligence Services said that Ukraine is choosing to raise its existing carbon taxes “to align its economy with the EU’s newly introduced cross-border adjustment mechanism (CBAM), given the rules will directly impact its power, industrial and agricultural sectors.”
CBAM is a new EU regulation that puts a price on carbon emitted during production of carbon intensive goods entering the EU, and encourages cleaner industrial production.
Blaney says the Conservative Party’s refusal to vote in favour of the agreement “lets Ukraine down as they continue their fight against Putin’s illegal invasion.
“It is very confusing to me that Pierre Poilievre and the Conservatives would vote against this trade agreement with Ukraine when they also say they support free trade with Ukraine,” said Blaney. “I’m baffled that the Conservatives would turn their back on Ukrainians and Ukrainian Canadians at such a difficult time.
“All parties involved in the agreement have stated that the carbon pricing provision is not an issue, so why is the Conservative Party choosing to make it one as an excuse for not voting yes to the agreement? The people of Ukraine and Canadians deserve an honest answer.”