Mr. Tom Lukiwski (Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, CPC)
Mr. Speaker, I do not have any prepared notes. I am just going to speak from my heart and say what I feel.
I also want to say to all hon. members that I believe this is one of the first times, if not the only time, on which all of us in this chamber tonight are in agreement on an issue. It is undeniable that there has been some egregious behaviour. Some things that have been done in Ukraine need to be undone. I think for the first time we can count on all members of this chamber to stand and speak the truth because we all believe that we know the truth.
In this case it is undeniable. The truth is that there was an election in Ukraine that was not held fairly or equally. It did not represent the voters' will. It did not represent those people in Ukraine who wanted to see a true democracy and a true democratic election.
I should say that I come from Ukrainian stock. My grandfather immigrated to Canada in the early 1900s. My father and I were born in this country. I am proud to say that I am Ukrainian but I do not really have any knowledge of what it is like to be a citizen of the Ukraine. I am starting to get a sense of that now because I see what has happened in the homeland of my grandfather, a part of the world for which I still feel very strongly and to which I feel connected in some manner.
I must say that this is one of the most egregious and blatant manipulations of the electoral process that I have seen in recent democratic history. We have seen actions taken by those in power currently in the Ukraine that defy description. If the actions that we have seen taken in Ukraine to manipulate the results of its election were taken in any other western country or any other democratic country, the outrage would be worldwide. I think we will see that outrage eventually.
Let me try to recapture some of the things that we know happened during the recent Ukraine elections. If one lives in a western civilization or in a country, a province or a state that is used to having elections, whether or not we like the results we trust the election officials. We know that from time to time there may be a slight irregularity but we trust the results.
I only have to look back to the recent U.S. elections where so many people were disappointed with the election results. Did the people say that the election was rigged? Did they rebel on the streets? Did they take to arms? No, because they know that inherently the electoral system in most democracies, certainly within the western world, is inherently fair. Just because we do not like the results does not mean that the elections were not conducted fairly, honestly and above board.
However that was not the case in the latest Ukraine elections. Let us take a look at some of the things that happened. For anyone who sits in this assembly and who has been through elections on many different levels for years and years, it is almost unfathomable, almost unbelievable that some of these things could happen but they did.
We have reports, as one example, that when the results of one poll were tallied the results were 3,000 to 0 for one of the candidates. That cannot happen. That is undeniably fraudulent because in no election in any corner of the world will we ever find, in any poll in a democratic election, a result like that, yet it happened in Ukraine. The government in power is saying that it was legitimate, fair and honest. It is saying that it does not want the results overturned and certainly does not want any kind of an independent review because that poll result might be questioned.
A review may also question things such as military police at polling stations questioning potential voters and turning away potential voters. A review may question things like military police and other officials talking to students and offering them bribes, such as free tuition or money in exchange for their vote for the right candidate. Those are but a few examples of what happened in this election.
My hon. colleague across the floor has just come back from observing what happened in Ukraine. One of our colleagues, the hon. member for Edmonton East, is currently there. It does not matter from which political ideology we come. Every member from every party from whom I have heard, whether it be in this country, south of the border or in European countries, has come back with the same stories. This election was a sham.
I believe there is only one thing that can force the current administration into accepting and agreeing to an independent review. That is with unanimity worldwide. We need all leaders, not only of the free world but in every country, small or large, to stand up and say that they are offended by the blatant abuse of power to try to overturn the democratic will of a people who want to elect a democratic government.
I was truly proud of the Prime Minister's words today. I do not see eye to eye with the Prime Minister or members opposite on many issues, and that is fair. However, I was proud of the words of the Prime Minister, even though he could not be here today, that we, the Canadian people, would not accept the results of this election.
I was proud of not only the members opposite but every member of the House regardless of political affiliation who stood up as one and applauded the Prime Minister's words. I believe that across this great country of ours we all agree with one thing: the democratic right to elect governments is something we should never take lightly and it is something that should be enshrined, as it is, in our Constitution.
When we see abuses throughout the world, we must stand as one and say no, that we will not accept the results. Not that it is for us to say who should be the winner, because it is not. It is the right of the Ukraine people to determine the winner. However, we should stand up when we see obvious and blatant attempts to overturn the democratic principles of an election. That is what this assembly has done and that is why I am so proud of every member of this assembly, because we spoke in unison. We said that we would not accept this. Quite frankly, I hope the Prime Minister and members opposite do not say this because it is topical, relevant and timely.
If this matter continues to carry on over weeks, months and close to a year and there is still no resolve with appointing an independent judicial review or independent review to determine whether this election in Ukraine was held in a proper manner, I hope the members opposite and their leader will continue to press the Ukraine government and every other leader of the free world and every industrialized nation to stand up and say no, that they will not accept what happened in the Ukraine. If that happens, then I truly will be one of the happiest Ukrainian Canadians in the world.
I will be splitting my time with the hon. member for Saskatoon—Humboldt. I should have said that at the outset.
In conclusion, everyone in a democracy should understand that the right to vote is one of the most inalienable rights people have and a right that we should take seriously. I am very concerned that in Canada the level of voter turnout in federal, provincial and municipal elections has gone down because people think for one reason or another it does not matter. It does matter.
We only need to look at what has happened in Ukraine to understand that the right to vote in a democracy is one of the greatest rights and responsibilities of every citizen of every country. We must stand up as one and protect the rights of the people in Ukraine to exercise their democratic right and their democratic will.
Topic: Emergency Debate