Elizabeth May responds to President Zelenskyy’s address to the Canadian Parliament

Elizabeth May (Saanich—Gulf Islands)
2022-03-21 20:06

Thank you, President Zelenskyy. I am honoured to rise and speak to this extraordinary and historic moment. I also want all my esteemed colleagues here in the House to know that we stand united.

The Green Party of Canada is part of a big Green family spread out around the world, in 80 countries. A few days ago I received the following letter from the president of the Green Party of Ukraine, Vitaliy Kononov:

He writes, “Dear Green Friends! We are writing to you from bomb shelters, from our home Ukraine, which is mercilessly attacked and bombarded by Russian forces since the fateful day—February 24, 2022. Ukrainians are indiscriminately hit, collateral damage amounts to total destruction of cities, many civil and social infrastructures that have no relevance to the military are destroyed, thousands of civilians dead and injured. Millions are fleeing their homes. Ukrainian army and civil defense volunteers have taken up arms and are fighting for the survival of Ukraine. And they are successful to a great extent. But, missile and bomb attacks by air are causing greatest damage. We are helpless. We have no weapons to counter air attacks. We appeal to you for support. Please urge your governments to help protect our sky by having a no-fly zone. For the sake of world peace and security, for democracy and resolution of conflicts through peaceful means and for a rule based world order, please help Ukraine!”

It broke my heart to write our dear colleague in Ukraine that all elected Greens around the world have come to the same conclusion, that a no-fly zone would risk a wider war and even a nuclear war. We know these reasons are solid, even though they ring hollow, but we must use every tool and I fear the tools we have in front of us are inadequate to the task. President Zelenskyy, we do not want to let you down. We fear that we may inevitably let you down, but we will find every tool we can find, and where there are not adequate tools, by God, let us invent them.

In 1956, during the Suez crisis, not yet prime minister, Lester B. Pearson, a Canadian, invented UN peacekeepers. We love ourselves here in Canada and although we are an insignificant country in the massive geopolitics of superpowers we sometimes get good ideas. We need to invent something now that is effective to stop the war, to stop Putin, to save Ukraine. We have to use every single idea, every single sinew, every muscle. We must not relent for one single second.

We have seen illegal wars. I have lived long enough to see many illegal wars based on lies, in Vietnam, in Afghanistan and in Iraq, with too many innocent lives lost, and now, never again, not one more Ukrainian child. Please, God, stop the bombs. Please let us have a ceasefire. Please leave a pathway for Vladimir Putin to make it to a negotiating table and find a peace.

How do we stop lies? We stop them with the truth, and the truth is the courage of the Ukrainian people. The truth is the courage and the unexpected reality of you, President Zelenskyy, an honest-to-god democrat, a human being, a mensch, a man of such moral courage that the world is inspired.

We must not let you down because God knows you will not let us down. We must do more. We know this. You are, as our Prime Minister just said, a champion of democracy. May we be worthy to stand by you. May we find the ways that make it meaningful that we stand with you.

Not one more lost life, please, God. Not one more mother in Russia who weeps for a lost son in an immoral and illegal war. I thank the brave Russians who have faced jail just to go out on the streets and say, “Stop the bombing. No more war.”

I close with this. President Zelenskyy, what I want and what I pray for, and I pray for you constantly and for Ukraine, is that you come here in person, that we invite you and we see you here as the president of a country at peace, of a free, democratic and victorious Ukraine.

Please come here so that we can hope that, in your eyes, we remain worthy to be called your friend.