OTTAWA — Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland referenced horrific allegations of Russian war crimes on Thursday as the federal Liberal government promised another $500 million in military aid as well as other financial assistance to Ukraine.
The promised new aid is contained in the Liberal government’s latest federal budget plan, which paints a gloomy picture for Canada’s economy should the war in Ukraine drag on, including even higher fuel prices and supply-chain problems.
Speaking in the House of Commons as she presented the budget plan, Freeland noted Canada and its allies have imposed severe sanctions against Moscow since the first Russian troops crossed into Ukraine on Feb. 24.
“But the mutilated people of Bucha, shot with their hands tied behind their backs, have shown us that is not enough,” Freeland added in reference to reports and images of Ukrainian civilians having been tortured and killed by Russian troops.
Freeland went on to accuse Russian President Vladimir Putin and “his henchmen” of war crimes, and warned that the only way for Canada and other democracies to be safe is if “the Russian tyrant and his armies are entirely vanquished.”
“And that is what we’re counting on the brave people of Ukraine to do,” she said.
“Because they are fighting our fight — a fight for democracy — it is in our urgent national interest to ensure that they have the missiles and the money they need to win. And that is what this budget helps to provide.”
To that end, the budget commits $500 million in both lethal and non-lethal military aid this year, which is on top of the $90 million in anti-tank guns, sniper rifles, night-vision goggles, armoured vests and other military equipment already provided to Ukraine.
The promised new assistance follows assertions from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Defence Minister Anita Anand in recent weeks that Canada would send more weapons and other help to Ukraine.
However, it isn’t clear how the aid will be delivered. Trudeau and Anand have said they are looking at buying weapons on the open market, but a group of Ukrainian legislators asked Ottawa last week to provide money directly to Kyiv for the purpose.
Canada is also offering an additional $1 billion in loans to Kyiv through a special account managed by the International Monetary Fund to help the Ukrainian government weather the economic damage of the conflict, which has left whole cities in ruin.
Yet the budget plan suggests the Ukrainian economy isn’t the only one that has been affected by Russia’s invasion, and that the economic upheaval in Canada could get even worse if the war drags on.
In particular, the budget predicts “surging commodity prices, prolong supply-chain disruptions and more rapid monetary policy tightening” with a drawn-out conflict. “The result is weaker economic activity and temporarily stronger inflation,” it adds.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 7, 2022.
Lee Berthiaume, The Canadian Press