An updated free trade agreement with Ukraine was passed in the House of Commons on Tuesday, despite objections from the Conservatives, who took issue with the bill’s reference to carbon pricing.
The bill includes a provision stating that Canada and Ukraine will cooperate to “promote carbon pricing and measures to mitigate carbon leakage risks.”
The Liberals passed the bill with the support of the NDP and Bloc Québécois, which will now be reviewed by the Senate.
The Trudeau government has accused the Conservatives of abandoning their support for Ukraine, while a recent survey found Canadians’ support on the issue has started to wane.
“He is choosing to not stand with Ukraine, not stand with Ukrainians, and not stand with Ukrainian Canadians,” said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during Question Period, referring to Conservative Party Leader Pierre Poilievre.
Poilievre responded by saying that his party does support Ukraine, just not the carbon pricing provision of the bill.
“In order for this trade deal to be implemented, Ukraine must agree to promote a carbon tax. That is not something we can support,” said Conservative House Leader Andrew Sheer on Tuesday.
While a carbon tax has been in place in Ukraine since 2011, Scheer claims the wording of the bill would prevent Ukraine from repealing it in the future.
“Should Ukrainians ever decide to make a different choice, it would be in violation of a trade deal,” said Scheer.
Outside of Parliament, Canadians’ support for Ukraine’s fight against Russia’s invasion has taken a dramatic shift.
In May 2022, shortly after the war broke out, only 13% of Canadians believed Canada was doing “too much” to support Ukraine; that number has since risen to 25%, according to recent data from the Angus Reid Institute.
The same poll found that the number of Canadians who feel Canada is “not doing enough” to support Ukraine has dropped by half, going from 38% to 19% over that same time period.
The majority of those who have changed their opinion on the matter also identified as Conservative voters in the 2021 election, however, there has also been an increase in that sentiment from Liberal and NDP voters as well.
The number of Canadians who continue to read news about the war has also dropped by 45% when compared to the first three months after it began.
“One-third (35%) say Canada should support Ukraine “as long as it takes” and one-in-ten (10%) believe it should only continue for one more year. The rest of Canadians are uncertain (30%), believe the war should end now with a negotiation for peace initiated by Ukraine (20%) or want Canada to end its support (5%),” reads the poll.
The invasion started on Feb. 24, 2022, and marks the biggest European conflict since the Second World War.
The poll found that 62% of Canadians still believe that Ukraine can win the war, while 20% believe Canadian funding is a waste of money because they believe a Ukrainian victory is “hopeless.”
Only 12% of respondents said that they think Ukraine will reclaim the territory that has already been captured by Russia.
However, the Ukrainian Canadian Congress praised the passing of the bill.
“We thank members of Parliament who supported this important piece of legislation. We are disappointed that the vote in favour of the bill was not unanimous,” wrote UCC president Alexandra Chyczij in a social media post on X.