The West Block – Episode 21, Season 11 – National


Episode 21, Season 11

Sunday, March 20, 2022

Host: David Akin


Sean Fraser, Immigration Minister

Allan Rock, Former Canadian Ambassador to the United Nations

Scott Aitchison, Conservative Management Candidate

Location: Ottawa, ON


David Akin: This week on The West Block: Offering a secure haven for Ukrainian refugees.

Sean Fraser, Immigration Minister: “On this darkish hour, we’re with you.”

David Akin: Canada opens the door for emergency residence for these fleeing the struggle. We’ll converse with Immigration Minister Sean Fraser.

Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Ukrainian President: “Thanks. [00:00:22].”

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David Akin: The Ukrainian president appeals to Canada and Western allies for a no-fly zone, as NATO leaders get set to satisfy in Brussels for a rare summit. Former Canadian ambassador to the UN, Allan Rock joins us to debate the bounds of Western help.

And, from a coronation to an precise context, the crowded Conservative management race will get one other contestant, immediately. Ontario MP Scott Aitchison tells us why he’s the perfect choose to steer his occasion.

It’s Sunday, March 20th, and that is The West Block.

Howdy. Thanks for becoming a member of us. I’m David Akin.

Greater than 3 million Ukrainians have fled the nation because the Russian invasion started nearly a month in the past. Individuals have been streaming into close by international locations like Poland, Romania, and Moldova, all to flee the combating.

Because the begin of the struggle, greater than 3,300 Ukrainian nationals have come to Canada. Now, Canada is easing immigration guidelines for Ukrainians and permitting momentary emergency residency of as much as three years.

Becoming a member of us now to speak extra about that is Immigration Minister Sean Fraser, becoming a member of us from Halifax.

I wish to to start with, speak in regards to the numbers. We heard from the Canada Border Companies Company that since hostility began, about 3,300 Ukrainians have come to Canada. I do know you’ve been counting since January 1st, and for those who add all that in, we’re about 9,200 Ukrainians right here. What’s your division planning for, within the context that I feel we ended up with like 73 thousand Syrian refugees, what number of refugees from Ukraine ought to we be planning to absorb?

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Sean Fraser, Immigration Minister: To begin with, thanks very a lot for having me, David. I actually recognize your willingness to shine a lightweight on what Canada’s keen to do to help the susceptible Ukrainians who’re fleeing Ukraine.

To reply your query, it’s onerous to foretell the exact quantity that we should always plan for and that’s why constructed a program that was designed to reply to demand slightly than a pre-determined allocation as we do with extraordinary refugee resettlement packages, that are sometimes unfold over a few years. We wanted to be able given the large numbers of people that had been flowing out of Ukraine to the West. To answer the demand that we see, and because the details change, the pliability that we in-built by constructing a system that’s based mostly on the best way that we welcome guests to Canada, permits us to deal with important numbers. And simply to place it into perspective, the system in an extraordinary 12 months on the subject of guests can course of as much as a few million individuals a 12 months. However with respect to Ukraine, we’re seeing, as you talked about, because the first of January, greater than 9,250 have arrived already and about that many have utilized once more, to return underneath the expedited course of. And now that we’ve launched this system this previous week, we’re going to maintain a really shut eye on the numbers to see what number of extra functions are available in now that we’ve launched this new expedited platform with fewer boundaries to entry.

David Akin: The explanation I requested what number of Canada may be planning for or anticipating is as a result of I’m simply questioning how huge the disaster will get. We all know the UN company that tracks this says we’re approaching 3.5 million individuals have left Ukraine, and I’m questioning for those who’re getting intelligence from that international scale? May or not it’s 5 million individuals leaving Ukraine, 8 million individuals? I imply, absolutely the West, broadly talking, has to have the ability to go: Do we have now the sources to accommodate that many individuals no less than briefly on the borders or Ukraine?

Sean Fraser, Immigration Minister: Nicely realistically, there aren’t any certainties on the subject of struggle and we have to be ready to take care of no matter state of affairs could come up. After I suppose specifically, of nations that border Ukraine to the West that’s already seeing tens of millions of individuals move out, there’s not a alternative as to whether or not they can deal with the numbers of individuals. The persons are coming no matter what these international locations would have. The Canadian perspective is that we have to do our half.

David Akin: And I wish to choose up on that as a result of our refugee packages for Afghanistan refugees or Syrian refugees, I feel individuals perceive that these Syrians and Afghanis who come Canada, they’re going to construct their lives right here. They’re not planning to return, or odds are poor. However I feel the sensation is, the Ukrainians which are coming or leaving their nation, they hope it’s momentary and so they’re going to return dwelling. Does that change the best way you construct this system and supply sources for Ukrainians as soon as they get right here? Understanding as effectively, too, it’s not plenty of males. It’s going to be ladies and kids primarily which are coming. That absolutely means we have now to reply in a different way for the helps that the Ukrainians want as soon as they get to Canada.

Sean Fraser, Immigration Minister: That’s completely proper and it’s important that we design a system that’s tailor-made to the distinctive circumstances of the disaster that we’re dealing with now. After I have a look at a extra typical refugee resettlement course of, when there appears to be a protracted have to have refugee camps, generally led by the United Nations and have the international locations of the world make a contribution to welcome these individuals over time and supply sure sorts of resettlement helps that can set up an individual to have the remainder of their life lived out in Canada.

With respect to the disaster in Ukraine, we would have liked to construct a system that had that flexibility to reply to the short-term demand, however the helps which are wanted could differ vastly. One of many issues that we’re seeing is the primary inflow of individuals largely have already got a connection to Canada, whether or not it’s members of the family, a historical past of journey to Canada. Some have employment connections, and that does require a tailor-made response. In fact, we have now heard as effectively, as you’ve talked about {that a} important variety of the people who find themselves fleeing Ukraine, desperately wish to return. They’re not leaving by alternative. They’re leaving as a result of there’s a struggle ravaging their homeland and so they do hope to return again when it’s secure to take action, to be reunited with their households who’re on the frontlines. There will likely be some individuals who hope to remain in Canada, definitely, and we’re working proper now to develop a household reunification pathway for individuals who have members of the family in Canada now. And naturally those that make it to their option to Canada on a short lived foundation can have a chance to use by our extraordinary immigration streams as soon as they get right here, ought to they want to convert to everlasting residency.

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David Akin: I wish to use our alternative, this final minute or so, to simply stand up to hurry on the Afghanistan program. I feel the quantity proper now could be we’ve introduced round 9 thousand Afghan refugees. We’ve dedicated to taking in 40 thousand. There could be the notion that we’re—your division, Canada, the federal government—is placing every part it could possibly into getting the Ukrainians right here as rapidly as attainable and that’s completely applicable, however the feeling is why didn’t we try this with Afghan refugees? Why couldn’t we do what we’re doing with the Ukrainians to get these Afghans who had been stranded in third international locations to our nation?

Sean Fraser, Immigration Minister: Nicely I take some objection to the characterization that we had been attempting to do much less someway for Afghanistan. Clearly, the circumstances are very totally different on the bottom. Within the rapid aftermath of the autumn of Kabul, hundreds of Afghans made their option to Canada, however rapidly the state of affairs turned very difficult not as a result of there was a scarcity of political will, however as a result of the Taliban, a listed terrorist group underneath Canadian legislation, has seized management of the territory. There’s practically 10 thousand Afghan refugees who’ve already been accredited to Canada which are inside Afghanistan immediately and don’t have secure passage to exit the nation. We’re working with companions within the area, together with some who’re working to have a presence to maneuver individuals on the bottom in Afghanistan and persevering with to advance the resettlement of Afghan refugees in Canada. The circumstances on the bottom definitely make it tougher, however our dedication has not waivered one bit. We wish to make good on our dedication to resettle 40 thousand Afghan refugees, who will make their everlasting dwelling in Canada.

I used to be in Alberta the previous couple of days and had a chance to satisfy with among the new arrivals. Some who had–w—had conferences arrange with human rights defenders who’ve come to Canada and others who I simply occurred to stumble upon on the road. And I can inform you those who’ve made it right here now are so grateful for the brand new lease on life they’ve been given and it simply serves as motivation for me to proceed to welcome Afghan refugees as rapidly as attainable. Till we make good on our dedication to welcome 40 thousand Afghan refugees, together with many particular people who helped Canada throughout our time in Afghanistan, who’re nonetheless in Afghanistan immediately.

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David Aikin: Immigration Minister Sean Fraser. Thanks a lot.

Up subsequent, as Russia escalates its assault on civilian targets in Ukraine, NATO leaders prepare to satisfy this week in Brussels. We’ll speak to former Canadian ambassador to the UN, Allan Rock, in regards to the want for diplomacy.


Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Ukrainian President: “Right now, the Ukrainian persons are defending not solely Ukraine; we’re combating for the values of Europe and the world, sacrificing our lives, within the title of the longer term.”

David Aikin: And that was the Ukrainian President chatting with the U.S. Congress. Volodymyr Zelenskyy is interesting to Western allies on to step up and do extra to assist Ukraine.

NATO leaders, together with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, are assembly on Thursday, in Brussels, for a rare summit. For extra on the diplomatic efforts and the battle, I’m very happy to be joined by former Liberal cupboard minister, however extra importantly maybe, former United Nations Ambassador Allan Rock. It’s nice to see you, Allan. And let’s begin with these Zelenskyy speeches to the Canadian Parliament, the U.S. Congress, and the German Parliament. Outstanding speeches, I assumed, and that he was not letting Western leaders or the West, off the hook.

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Allan Rock, Former Canadian Ambassador to the United Nations: Nor can he. I imply he’s determined. He’s a outstanding chief. The speeches had been so compelling, and he makes a case that it’s onerous to reply. And what’s making us all really feel so desperately annoyed at this level, is the truth that all of us wish to get in there and push this bully again throughout the border and defend with Zelenskyy, the sovereignty of the Ukraine, however we will’t. And the state of affairs’s all of the tougher for 2 causes. To begin with, the Safety Council, to which we would normally search for some type of aid, is dysfunctional. It’s lacking in motion. And the second factor is the consensus, which I agree with, is that if we push Putin too far, we would simply take a raffle, we might lose and the stakes are too excessive. A nuclear response is simply too huge a danger. So what can we do? That’s actually the query. I don’t wish to reduce what we’re doing. The sanctions are unprecedented of their power and their breadth. The navy support we’re offering pushes the bounds. The surveillance from the air, we’re offering by NATO so the Ukraine’s can—Ukrainians can know the place the Russians are and their air power. If there’s another factor, I feel we will do, and that is on the diplomatic entrance, David.

David Aikin: Proper.

Allan Rock, Former Canadian Ambassador to the United Nations: It’s by the United Nations and the Basic Meeting. Within the absence of the Safety Council, the Basic Meeting has an vital position to play. And I say, that if Canada had been to kind a gaggle of like-minded international locations and enlarge it and work with allies and construct a consensus within the Basic Meeting for a advice. They’ll’t move a binding decision, however they will move a advice that has very massive ethical power, calling for a peacekeeping group that will be chosen from contributions not from the U.S. and Canada, however from Africa, from Asia, hopefully from China, which is a giant contributor on the peacekeeping facet.

David Aikin: Nicely, your successor on the UN, Bob Rae, our present UN ambassador, you already know, he has been on the file, I chatted with him final week, saying that veto, or we give Putin the power to veto and we have now to remove that capability for him to veto diplomatically, militarily, and the UNGA, the Basic Meeting, could be the spot that you could begin to cut back Russia’s veto at the us.

Allan Rock, Former Canadian Ambassador to the United Nations: Sure, and I feel it’s time to get extra particular about that. And I feel a advice for the creation of humanitarian corridors, which the Worldwide Committee of the Pink Cross is engaged on even now Along with a peacekeeping power to implement it and shield individuals. And if we will get China to contribute to that, it’d be a beautiful coup. However have a presence on the bottom that’ll make us really feel no less than we’re doing one thing to supply safety to those that are so very susceptible.

David Akin: With out frightening a nuclear response.

Allan Rock, Former Canadian Ambassador to the United Nations: That’s proper. That’s proper.

David Aikin: I’m inquisitive about from type of the diplomatic type of—your diplomatic expertise. The U.S. president final week, known as the Russian president a struggle felony. I imply, he was unequivocal about that. Many commentators have, and I feel it’s fairly clear; there are crimes towards humanity occurring right here. What does that have an impact when the U.S. president is saying to the Russian man, you’re a struggle felony?

Allan Rock, Former Canadian Ambassador to the United Nations: Nicely I, for one, was delighted to listen to it. As a result of the actual fact of the matter is, he’s a struggle felony. It’s against the law to cross that border along with his military. It’s against the law to focus on civilians, not to mention maternity wards and hospitals. It’s against the law to unleash your navy towards people who find themselves not combatants or fighters. He’s a struggle felony, and let’s put that on the desk and let’s mobilize worldwide public opinion towards this man. And by the best way, I feel the important thing in all of that is going to be China. Turkey’s vital as effectively, however China, I feel, is wavering. We noticed final week, some information tales out of China that they had been very reluctant to lend enthusiastic help that among the issues Putin’s been doing. They’ve now stopped exporting sure components to Russia. I feel that Xi Jinping is trying on the worldwide response to this and questioning whether or not he wish to be related to a pariah.

David Aikin: Only for our final query, I ponder about Canada’s position. I heard Overseas Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly final week, speak about our position as with the ability to convene individuals, to convey individuals collectively. We’ve clearly taken a facet on this battle. The place do you see Canada, significantly trying ahead to the NATO assembly this week?

Allan Rock, Former Canadian Ambassador to the United Nations: I do know she was criticized in some corners for what she stated, however you already know, I feel we have now to confess, we’re not a navy superpower. Our affect on this world doesn’t come from our navy, irrespective of how a lot we spend. The actual fact is, our affect on this world, our status on the United Nations, is for the power to convey individuals collectively, discover frequent floor, sure, convene. And that’s what I feel we should always do now within the Basic Meeting. Let’s convey these 141 international locations collectively once more, with a robust advice to ascertain a peacekeeping group, to patrol secure and humanitarian areas as a primary step towards defending the inhabitants of Ukraine.

David Aikin: And at NATO, Trudeau’s off there on Thursday. The place do you see NATO then becoming in?

Allan Rock, Former Canadian Ambassador to the United Nations: Nicely I feel they’re going to have this very dialogue. I feel they’re additionally going to be speaking about how far they will go with out frightening the bear. What about these MIGs in Poland? Are they wanted within the defence of Ukraine? And in the event that they had been to be despatched, would that cross a line in Putin’s thoughts that will lead to a reprisal. I feel they’re going to be speaking about entire vary of issues. How far can we go to help Ukraine? These subsequent couple of weeks are essential, David. If Ukraine can survive these subsequent two weeks, with the weakening Russian power and the rising public sentiment towards Russia, I feel the dynamics of a negotiation could possibly be very totally different. So we’ve acquired to get by these subsequent two weeks.

David Aikin: Yeah, let’s cross our fingers. Allan Rock, good to see you once more. Thanks a lot for becoming a member of us, actually recognize it.

Allan Rock, Former Canadian Ambassador to the United Nations: Pleasure. Thanks, David.

David Aikin: All proper. Nicely, up subsequent, Ontario MP Scott Aitchison, is the brand new title within the Conservative management. He’s launching immediately. And we’ll ask him why he believes he ought to lead the Conservative Social gathering. He’s up proper after this break.


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David Akin: Now at one level within the Conservative management race, many within the occasion thought it will quantity to a coronation for Ontario MP Pierre Poilievre. However it’s turning into extra of a contest and extra of a crowded contest than many thought. And immediately, another contestant will get into the race. His title is Scott Aitchison, he’s a two time period MP for the Ontario Cottage Nation driving of Parry Sound—Muskoka. And Scott joins me now from Huntsville, Ontario, the city, in fact, the place Scott was mayor earlier than coming into federal politics in 2019.

Scott, welcome to this system. Let’s soar in immediately with the primary query, which I’m positive you’re going to get requested lots. Why? Why ought to Conservatives choose you to be chief?

Scott Aitchison, Conservative Management Candidate: Nicely let me first say thanks, David, for having me on this system. It’s nice to be right here. However I feel that individuals ought to select me as a result of they acknowledge that Ottawa shouldn’t be working. It’s a divisive and the rhetoric—it’s all about division in Ottawa and I feel Canadians have had sufficient of that and I feel they’re prepared for a brand new strategy.

David Akin: Your occasion, in the previous couple of weeks within the Home of Commons, has made fairly some extent of noting that the Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the chief of the Liberal Social gathering, has been contributing to that division, making it very private, demonizing the trucker convoy, and so on. However there’s a candidate within the race, and I simply talked about him, Pierre Poilievre, who has made himself extremely popular by doing simply that towards his opponents, demonizing the prime minister, individuals on the left, who disagree with him. So, that to me, says you disagree with the tone in Mr. Poilievre’s politics.

Scott Aitchison, Conservative Management Candidate: I disagree with the tone of our federal politics for the final a number of years, truly. I feel, you already know, each events are responsible of utilizing division and variations of opinion amongst Canadians, to divide us. Whether or not it’s distinction of opinion or variations of the place we stay: east versus west, city versus rural. There’s no scarcity of it on all sides of the aisle and I feel that Canadians have had sufficient of it. I feel it’s truly tearing our nation aside. I’ve years of expertise in municipal politics the place we construct consensus, we work collectively and we convey individuals collectively. And that’s what I feel our nation wants. It’s what I provide. And I’m trying ahead to cross-crossing the nation and presenting myself as the choice to convey not simply Conservatives collectively, however to convey our nation collectively.

David Akin: Let me simply speak about that concept of municipal politics. I used to cowl small councils. I coated one close to yours down in Orillia at one time limit. It’s non-partisan. Individuals work by consensus. However there’s one other candidate on this race. His title’s Patrick Brown. He’s a giant metropolis mayor and he’s received in a metropolis, Brampton, the place all 5 seats are Liberal seats. Why wouldn’t Patrick Brown’s candidacy be appropriate as any individual who may be bringing individuals collectively?

Scott Aitchison, Conservative Management Candidate: Nicely I simply suppose that we’d like somebody that may attraction to individuals throughout this nation and I feel it’s vital to attraction to individuals within the GTA completely. However we’d like candidates that may attraction to individuals actually throughout this nation. I feel I provide that and I’m trying ahead to having an amazing dialogue and nice debates with all of the candidates, together with Mr. Brown.

David Akin: It appears to me there’s been a type of purity check, if you’ll, that some candidates wish to put ahead, and that being the place do you stand on the carbon tax after which possibly the opposite one could be the place do you stand on gun management? I ponder for those who simply give us a fast snapshot as individuals attempt to slot you in a little bit bit, of the place you’re on the carbon tax and the place is your stance on our present gun management?

Scott Aitchison, Conservative Management Candidate: Nicely I feel {that a} purity check is sort of a foolish factor and I feel the labels are sort of foolish as effectively. I feel it’s vital for us to be principled Conservatives. I’m against a carbon tax however not for the explanations that possibly individuals would possibly suppose. It’s not as a result of I simply suppose it’s politically expedient and it’s not as a result of I don’t imagine that local weather change is an actual severe menace. I simply—basically, I characterize individuals on this space that may’t afford to place meals on the desk and warmth their houses. And so it’s an added expense that Canadians can’t afford, significantly essentially the most susceptible in our society. And I simply suppose that we have to be speaking about these points from a Conservative perspective and be constant in our message, trustworthy with one another and keep true to our phrase.

David Akin: And on gun management, that got here up, as you already know, within the final election. There was a flip-flop in mid-campaign, for higher, for worse and for those who speak to Liberals, that’s once they acquired wind of their sails. What about gun management if the Liberals attempt to wedge you guys once more on the problems of assault model weapons, and so on. I do know you’re a largely rural driving and there’s going to be plenty of hunters and farmers in your ridings that you just characterize. So the place are you on the gun management challenge?

Scott Aitchison, Conservative Management Candidate: Nicely I feel it’s one other basic instance of a Liberal authorities that appears to demonize a smaller group of Canadians to appease a bigger group. Regulation abiding firearms house owners are among the many most accountable individuals in our society and there’s no query, we have to take care of rising gun violence in among the bigger city centres, however we all know from chiefs of police and kind boots on the bottom that these weapons which are being utilized in these heinous crimes are typically weapons which are smuggled from throughout the border. We have to make investments extra in defending our borders. We have to make investments extra in lifting up the individuals which are struggling to get, you already know, out of those communities which are struggling. We have to present hope for younger individuals. When a teen finds that the one hope they’ve is to affix a gang, then we failed that younger individual and we have to do extra to spend money on the packages which are going to carry individuals out of these circumstances and cease demonizing legislation abiding firearms house owners.

David Aikin: Within the 40-odd seats within the Better Montreal space, 40 seats I ought to level out, that’s greater than the seats in Saskatchewan or greater than the variety of seats in Alberta. A Conservative Social gathering hasn’t received a seat there since 1988, and that was when Brian Mulroney received with a man named Jean Charest at his elbow. How do Conservatives win seats in a giant city space like Montreal, or an city space like Toronto, the place Conservatives haven’t had any success, actually, since Stephen Harper’s majority? How do Conservatives join in our huge city cores outdoors of Alberta and Saskatchewan?

Scott Aitchison, Conservative Management Candidate: Nicely I feel our message needs to be constant and I feel we have now to exhibit that as Conservatives we will be trusted, that we have now the character and never simply the insurance policies, however the character and the braveness, to stay to our convictions and to talk to the oldsters that stay in these suburban and concrete ridings and guarantee that we’re addressing the issues that they’ve as effectively. And I feel that the one manner we will do that’s by being united as a celebration and ensuring that our message is obvious and constant and fascinating with each neighborhood throughout this nation.

David Aikin: Scott Aitchison is the MP for Parry Sound—Muskoka, elected first in 2019, re-elected in 2021, hoping to steer his occasion into the following normal election. Scott, thanks a lot and good luck with the race.

Scott Aitchison, Conservative Management Candidate: Thanks, David.

That’s our present for immediately. Thank for watching. We’ll see you again right here subsequent Sunday for The West Block. I’m David Akin.

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