Why? Read few comments.
1. Why is Canadian PM Stephen Harper so active regarding Ukraine and Russia? He clearly takes a hard line.
2. Would you say this will also lead to kicking Russia out of G8?
Kyle Matthews, Senior Deputy Director, Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies, Concordia University
1. Canada Prime Minister Stephen Harper is very active regarding Ukraine and Russia for several reasons. First, and perhaps the most important, is that Canada is home to over one million people who claim Ukrainian heritage. Canada’s Ukrainian diaspora is very active politically and with a Canadian federal election coming up in 2015, Harper is no doubt interested in showing that his government cares about their homeland. Second, Harper is no friend of authoritarian governments, like Russia controlled by Putin, that disregard individual rights and also has a history of spying on Canada. A Canadian naval officer was recently found guilty of providing intelligence to Russian authorities. Putin’s steadfast support of Assad in Syria also has impact on official Canadian policy towards Russia. Also, Harper sees Russian actions in the Arctic as being against Canada’s national interests in the long run.
2. I have no doubt that Canada will take a strong stand within the G8 in calling for Russia’s eviction.Harper knows Putin is an authoritarian dictator who persecutes his political opposition within Russia and pays lip service to international law (take over of Crimea, 2008 invasion of Georgia).
Piotr Dutkiewicz, Professor and Director, Centre for Governance and Public Management, Carleton University
1. At least for three reasons. First – this government is driven by its believe in “right and wrong” , it has almost black and white picture of the world where good shall be supported and evil conquered; so Russia – according to Harper is doing very wrong things in Ukraine and thus shall be punished by Canada and international community; Secondly Canada will have soon (2015) a federal elections and in 2011, there were an estimated 1,209,085 persons of full or partial Ukrainian origin residing in Canada (mainly Canadian-born citizens) making them Canada’s ninth largest ethnic group; these voters are crucial to crumbling conservative constituency; Ukrainians are very well organized in Canada and form a formidable pressure group – so Harper’s tactic is to have strong support from the Ukrainian community; Thirdly Canada has not too much too lose as economic relations with Russia are quite small.
2. Most probably that will be a Canadian position. International governance is ineffective and removing Russia from G-8 will diminish a possibility to talk to Kremlin on key global issues; it will lead to the increase role of China in G-8 and push Russia to what she really does best – bilateral relations. Thus strong rhetoric by some governments (including Canada) is not very wise and might be –in a long run – counterproductive.
Joan DeBardeleben, Professor and Director, Centre for European Studies, Carleton University
1. I believe that the part of the reason for Prime Minister Harper’s strong position on this issue relates to the size and political importance of the Ukrainian community in Canada. In the 2006 census about 1.2 million people indicated Ukrainian origins. This group is quite active, and therefore politically important, especially in some regions of Canada. Ukraine is one of the few post-communist countries where Canada maintains an active development aid program, so engagement with Ukraine is well established. You can see the list of programs here.
In addition, this may be seen by the government as an issue where Canada can gain visibility both domestically and internationally as showing leadership in the Western alliance.
2. I think it is quite likely that Russian inclusion in the G8 will be suspended for now , and that the body will operate as the G7, as it did before Russia was added. Whether this will become a longer term situation may depend on future Russian actions or responses.
John Ibbitson, Senior Fellow, Centre for International Governance Innovation
1. There are 1.2 million Ukrainians in Canada. Many of them are in Western Canada, which is the political base of the Conservative Party. So Harper is reinforcing his base by taking a particularly tough line on Ukraine.
But he also is very blunt in support of Israel, and has been harshly critical of China. (Though he backed off once he realized it was damaging trade). In general, this Conservative government takes a strong line on human rights, in contrast with its Liberal predecessors, who favoured playing an honest-broker role.
2. Harper will push hard to have Russia expelled from the G8. Back in July 2013, he said it wasn’t the G8, it was the “G7 plus one.” And on a personal level, he quite dislikes Putin.
Jacques Lévesque, Professor Emeritus, Department of Political Science, Universite du Quebec a Montreal
1. The Ukrainian diaspora in Canada is numerically important and influential. The number of Canadians of Ukrainian ascent is around 300,000 persons. Statistically, in proportion to the total population of Canada (34 million people) the Ukrainian diaspora is much more important here than in the United States. It is concentrated in Western Canada where is the strongest electoral basis of the Conservative Party of Stephen Harper.
2. Harper will certainly press for Russia’s expulsion of Russia from the G8. But his voice will not be decisive. The decisive actors in this respect will be Germany and the US.