Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced on Saturday that Canada would provide an additional $100 million in aid to help ease the ongoing refugee and humanitarian crisis triggered by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“This is a time when the world must come together, stand up for Ukraine and stand up for our values and our principles,” Trudeau said in his closing remarks, delivered remotely at a global pledge gathering from Ottawa.
The rally, co-hosted by Trudeau and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, resulted in pledges of $12.4 billion from countries on Saturday to help tackle the crisis. Funds pledged by Canada will be channeled through humanitarian agencies.
The humanitarian funding adds to new pledges unveiled in the federal budget this week, which included $500 million in military aid, as well as an offer of $1 billion in additional loans to Ukraine.
Trudeau also highlighted changes to Canada’s immigration system that aim to help more people fleeing conflict find refuge in this country. These changes include additional charter flights, short-term income support, temporary accommodation in hotels and more integration assistance.
In a call later Saturday, Zelensky thanked Trudeau for his participation in the pledge rally, while the two leaders condemned recent Russian actions and called on the country to end the war in Ukraine.
Sean Fraser, Canada’s immigration minister, said earlier this week that more than 12,000 Ukrainians have arrived in Canada since the start of the year. Earlier in the week, Canada had received more than 112,000 fast-track applications to come to Canada, and 30,000 of those applications had been approved, he said on Saturday.
Fraser said Canada is already suspending the collection of biometric data – a key part of the process – for certain low-risk groups, including people under 18, those over 60 and some people who have already obtained visas. Canadians.
Nearly 4.5 million refugees have left Ukraine since the conflict began on February 24, according to the United Nations. More than half of them are in Poland, where the pledge rally was held on Saturday.
Denunciations of alleged war crimes
The policy moves come as Canadian officials turn up the heat on their rhetoric regarding Russia, prompted by growing revelations and evidence of alleged Russian war crimes in Ukraine. Those accusations this week focused on the town of Bucha, near the capital kyiv, where witnesses saw evidence of civilians being murdered and tortured.
Trudeau called Saturday’s dispute “Vladimir Putin’s evil war” and denounced the attacks on civilians – and in particular the sexual violence against women – as an attempt “to crush the Ukrainian spirit, the Ukrainian identity “. Foreign Minister Melanie Joly said earlier in the week that what happened in Bucha was “clearly war crimes”.
In her budget speech on Thursday, Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland, who is also deputy prime minister, explicitly called Putin a war criminal.
“The democracies of the world – including ours – can only be safe once the Russian tyrant and his armies are completely defeated,” she said.
In a CBC interview The Houseairing on Saturday, Freeland, who has close personal and family ties to Ukraine, said she gave the speech in an official capacity.
“It was the declaration of a very important fact for the national security of Canada. The reality today — and it is a terrible reality — is that Vladimir Putin is the greatest threat to the national security of Canada and the safety of the world,” she told host Chris Entree.
Freeland said Ukraine is on the front lines of this fight and needs Canada’s support.
“They are fighting this fight. They are dying in this fight, but we can help them.”
WATCH | Chrystia Freeland talks about the war in Ukraine during the budget speech:
Russia has denied that its military forces were responsible for the deaths at Bucha, saying the footage was fabricated.
Speaking to CBC power and politics earlier this week, Canada’s Ambassador to the United Nations, Bob Rae, said that Russia should not be believed.
“I think it’s just absurd for Russians to pretend it’s all wrong. It’s not wrong. There’s more to come.”