St. Catharines city council urges government to support Ukraine one year after Russia’s invasion

Photo by: Charlie Martin

St. Catharines city council continues to show support for Ukraine at the one-year anniversary of Russia’s invasion.

Following an hour-long discussion on Monday, Feb. 27 surrounding a debate over military aid, St. Catharines city council urged the Canadian government to support Ukraine morally, economically, financially and militarily until a resolution to the war is underway.

Although Canada has continued to support Ukraine with military aid, three of the four speakers who addressed the council on Monday night fought against the inclusion of military aid in Canada’s support. This follows Canada’s earlier decision in January to purchase a $406 million surface-to-air missile system to aid Ukraine’s defense.

Some individuals, such as Tamara Lorincz, a PhD candidate at Wilfrid Laurier University’s Balsillie School of International Affairs, are urging the federal government to support the country by stopping the weapons and war. They propose sending diplomats instead, for a negotiated peace. 

Others, however, like Irene Newton, president of the Niagara branch of Ukrainian Canadian Congress, argue that Ukranians must physically fight back in order to avoid the Russian army’s destruction.

“We as Canadians have an obligation to Ukrainians who want the same freedoms that we as Canadians have, and that is to support Ukraine not only with praise but also with appropriate weapons to defeat evil, the Russian aggressor, and to bring peace to the region,” said Joe Kushner, one of the St. Andrews council members and a first-generation Ukrainian Canadian. 

Niagara also recently showed their support for Ukraine with a candlelit vigil dedicated to supporting the country. The vigil took place on Friday, Feb. 24, one year after the invasion and demonstrated the region’s desire to continue standing by Ukraine’s side while reminding individuals of the situation at hand.

Despite many within St. Catharines and the Niagara Region’s desire to offer the country consistent support, others remain wary.

Merritton council member Greg Miller has also requested a dismount of Canadian military aid, believing that such a solution is not realistic enough. Instead, he has made an amendment which would remove the word “militarily” from the support request.

“I think this wording more accurately reflects that we are supportive of those who are suffering under the invasion, that we are supporting the Ukrainian Canadians — those throughout Canada and in St. Catharines — and we are focused on a peaceful resolution to the conflict there,” said Miller.

Despite his attempts, the amendment lost in an 11-2 decision. St. Catharines mayor Mat Siscoe has since clarified that the city is not in fact arguing in favour of a war.

“But, ultimately, the Russian government started this war and providing the Ukrainians the ability to ward off the aggressor with military means is an obligation on the rest of the democratic world,” said Siscoe.

Despite the mixed responses regarding how Canada should go forward with their support, the city of St. Catharines seems to be in agreement that Canada should continue to stand by Ukraine as the war goes on.

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