CG4DU | 22Nov2016 | Oksana Bashuk Hepburn

Proposed Canadian communications with President-elect Donald Trump

Right Honourable Justin Trudeau
Prime Minister of Canada
Parliament Hill
Ottawa, ON

[email protected]

Dear Prime Minister,

We are very fortunate in Canada to have the right to provide input to our country’s policy deliberations. We thank you for having previously considered our positions, including that on NATO, formulated in our letter of June 22, 2016. We sincerely hope that our ongoing inputs will continue to be helpful in determining the best options possible for these complex and uncertain times.

No doubt, you and your officials will be communicating further with President-elect Donald Trump and the counterparts of his transition team. Through you, we extend our best wishes to the newly elected leader of our fine neighbour and hope that our relations will continue in the amicable and productive manner.

In your discussions with the President-elect we ask you, at this time, to focus on a key global issue: Russia’s war in Ukraine. It is generally viewed that he does not exhibit sufficient awareness of the seriousness of the situation and its long-term impact on the world. As the prime minister who visited Ukraine early in your mandate -- cheered on by most democrats in Canada, indeed around the world -- you have first-hand knowledge of the situation: Ukraine is the only country holding firm against Russia's global expansionism and illegal grab of internationally designated sovereign territory at the cost of all the attendant horror that has wrought. We believe that Canada’s views on this matter can impact positively on America’s position and ultimately contribute towards a just outcome for Ukraine. Equally important, it can act as a dampener on Russia’s further designs on other sovereign states and in so doing reduce strife and further erosion of peace and security on the globe.

While we agree that economic co-operation, as highlighted by the Mr. Trump’s early conversation with Russia’s president, is a desirable goal for the United States -- Canada too -- we caution that it not be done at the expense of ignoring Russia’s international transgressions. Stronger economic ties must be preceded by Russia’s adherence to international commitments including the Bucharest and the Minsk accords: Russia must pull away from Ukraine and remove its proxies from Donbas.

For this reason Mr. Trump needs to understand that Canada will lend strong support to ongoing economic sanctions against Russia.

Next, we ask you to underscore Canada’s commitment to NATO. It is in the free world’s interest to check Russia’s aggression. Historically, the Alliance has been most effective in doing so. It is most certain that had Georgia and Ukraine been members Russia would not have had the temerity to annex their sovereign lands or invade Ukraine’s Donbas.

Of course Russia prefers not to have NATO stand up to its aggression. It, therefore, misses few opportunities to be its strongest critic and advances notions of other military alliances which include its membership.

It’s important that the President-elect understands that Canada is committed to NATO and that any other military alliance, which includes Russia, will be viewed as a non-starter while it pursues global terrorism. Moreover, should the people of Ukraine seek membership in the Alliance, Canada will support it.

Finally, it appears that the initial talk between Messrs. Trump and Putin included their agreement to co-operate on “terrorism and extremism”.

It is hard for us to be sanguine on this matter given Russia’s duplicity and dire consequences in Syria -- despite its agreement to ”co-operate”-- or its failure to adhere to the Minsk agreements. When regimes act like terrorists, it is unacceptable for democracies to support them; when a supposed ally betrays trust repentance first, rather than further co-operation with the culprit, must be the norm.

Please remind the President-elect that in Ukraine, Russia not ISIS, is the terrorist. Creating chaos in Europe, while supposedly committing to solving terrorism elsewhere, is an unacceptable double-standard. It is unlikely to bring the desired peace ad security that Mr. Putin often refers to while creating havoc.

We ask Canada to offer Mr. Trump cautionary comments on these murky designations -- terrorism and extremism -- as they have dangerous implications at home as well. Both are loaded with potential threats to such human liberties and rights as freedom of assembly, organization, free speech and media. Please stress that Canada is deeply concerned with Russia’s tactics of suppressing citizen rights in the name of fighting terrorism and extremism, including the banning of peaceful demonstrations, arrests and questionable deaths of opposition leaders, as well as over 100 journalists. In annexed Crimea, Russia is persecuting the indigenous Tatars while abducting, imprisoning and torturing other dissidents in the name of ensuring law and order and fighting terrorism and extremism.

We conclude by underscoring that, like most Canadians, we would like nothing more than better relations with Russia. Please assure the President-elect that Canada is on side with this quest providing that it does not come at the price of international law or Mr. Putin’s world-view of a greater Russia brought about by war, terror and broken agreements.

We hope that Mr. Trump will agree.

We thank you for taking into account our concerns and wish you continuing success in governing our wonderful country.

Warmest regards,

Oksana Bashuk Hepburn
Dr. Ihor Cap
Solomia Chmara
Vicki Karpiak
Mary Komarynsky
Emiliya Mashkovtseva
Myroslava Oleksiuk
Marta Onufriv
Pavlo Sugolov

Hon.Stephane Dion, MP
Hon. Harjit Singh Sajjan, MP
Hon. Rona Ambrose, MP
Hon. Thomas Mulcair, MP
Hon. Ralph Goodale, MP
Hon. John McCallum, MP
Hon. Jody Wilson-Raybould, MP
Hon. Chrystia Freeland, MP
Hon. MaryAnn Mihychuk, MP
Borys Wrzesnewskyj, MP
James Bezan, MP
Terry Duguid, M.P
Linda Duncan, M.P.
Julie Dzerowicz, M.P.
James Maloney, M.P.
Arif Virani, M.P
Senator Raynell Andreychuk
Ambassador Roman Waschuk
Ambassador Andriy Shevchenko
Ambassador Kerry Buck
Vice-Admiral Bob Davidson
Marvin Hildebrand
James Temerty, C.M.
Paul Grod
Eugene Czolij