Green deputy leader visits Ukraine after party’s call for negotiations stirs controversy
Following the Green Party’s call for peace negotiations in Ukraine, deputy leader Jonathan Pedneault traveled to the war-torn country in April to visit Kyiv, Odesa, and Kharkiv, around 40 kilometres from the Russia border.
Pedneault, who also serves as the party’s foreign affairs critic, told The Hill Times in a phone interview that the trip was “first and foremost” an opportunity to express solidarity with Ukraine and Ukrainian people.
During Question Period in February, Green Party Leader Elizabeth May asked: “What is Canada doing to press for peace talks and to press for a negotiated solution? Arms will not end the war.” Defence Minister Anita Anand said the decision on “peace and Ukraine’s future” will be made by Ukraine.
May received some negative reaction from Ukrainians in Canada. The Ukrainian Canadian Congress tweeted that May’s question showed “[s]hocking ignorance by a leader of a [national] party.”
That criticism was part of Pedneault’s reason for visiting Ukraine. “It was a personal decision and desire by me to show our party solidarity with Ukraine in these difficult times, especially since a number of people did raise the question of whether we were [in] solidarity with Ukraine, which is quite unfortunate … as I was there at the beginning of the conflict and I documented Russian violations of international law,” he told The Hill Times.
Jonathan Pedneault has some thoughts on the constructive role Canada can play at rebuilding a post-conflict Ukraine. He is especially concerned with Ukrainians who worked with Russian authorities while under occupation, or those who hold Russian sympathies and may not welcome the return of the Kyiv government.
“[There are] questions of what to do with people who are suspected of having collaborated with occupying forces,” he said. “There are some reasonable worries to be had with regards to how the Ukrainian law on collaborators, which was passed in rush right after the invasion, will be applied.”
“I think it will be crucial for the stability for Ukraine and also its long-term prospects to re-engage in transitional justice as much as possible,” Pedneault told The Hill Times. “And that’s something that I hope Canada will be able to support and should start supporting as soon as possible alongside reconstruction.”
- Read “Solidarity pitch behind Green Party’s Ukraine trip,” by Neil Moss, published by The Hill Times on May 3, 2023