As this issue goes to press, it is almost a certainty that the minority Liberal government will go down on a vote of confidence before the end of this month and an election will be called -- most likely for January 16 or January 23, 2006.
For us in Canada's Ukrainian community there will be two points of focus in the upcoming election.
One will be the candidates themselves. There are quite a large number of sitting MPs -- both of Ukrainian and non-Ukrainian origin -- who have shown themselves to be sensitive to our concerns and have acted upon them. It is important for our community to ensure they are re-elected. We will be dealing with individual candidates in more detail during the election itself. For now our list of MPs who deserve support include: Liberals: Borys Wrzesnewskyj, Andrew Telegdi, Ralph Goodale and Walt Lastewka; NDP-er Judy Wasylicia Leis; Conservatives: Inky Mark, Peter Goldring, John Williams, Ken Epp and Dianne Ablonczy. Among nominated candidates we endorse Conservative Jurij Klufas. We will find out on Dec. 05, 2005 whether Andrew Hladyshevsky will be the Liberal candidate for Edmonton Strathcona. At this point all we can say is he is in a very tight nomination battle and needs all the support he can get. And that does not only apply to residents of Strathcona. There is a need for volunteers for phone outs, providing rides the day of the nomination meeting, being scrutineers on Dec. 05, phoning on that day to people who have not yet registered to vote, and so on. If you wish to help call either 468-2629, or 221-7939.
The above list is by no means complete. If any of our readers have any suggestions, please let us know.
The other point of focus is the issues. From a community standpoint there are four specific issues we need to address. In two of the cases we welcome recent initiatives and want to see a continuation of the same direction. In two others we must demand major changes.
We welcome the acknowledgment of the injustice that was perpetrated upon Ukrainian Canadians during the First World War and the establishment of the Acknowledgment and Commemoration (ACE) Program. There may not be enough money however, to meet all the demands. We are encouraged by Finance Minister Goodale's admission that this is indeed the case and look forward towards working with whatever government is elected to see that this is handled properly.
We very warmly welcome Canada's actions in sending election observers to Ukraine and the support that has been given the new government in its efforts to reform and democratize the country. Here again, we want to encourage the current direction and work with whatever government comes to power to continue along this road.
The two issues where major changes are needed both fall under the jurisdiction of the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration.
One is immigration itself. The number of immigrants coming in yearly from Ukraine is nothing short of disgraceful. Changes are needed both in terms of policy (this relates to language requirements, the point system, inadequate provisions for family reunification and so on) and in the resources allocated to Canada's immigration structure in Ukraine. No matter who will form the new government, they will have to deal with this and we have to ensure that they know our positions.
As we have noted many times before, the policy of Denaturalization and Deportation is a blatant assault on the Charter freedoms of Ukrainians and other East Europeans. The way to correct this abuse of civil liberties has been cleared by the recommendations of the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration [Report 10 (pdf file)] which received unanimous concurrence from the House of Commons. Some of these recommendations -- especially the one about using the standard of "reasonable doubt" instead of "balance of probabilities" in citizenship cases -- are opposed by none other than the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration himself.
Our community's position is that we want to see the recommendations of the Standing Committee enacted -- in full. Anything short of that will retain the current second-class citizenship status of naturalized Canadians.