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Ukrainian newcomer challenges aired with North Okanagan MP

Thompson-Okanagan Branch of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress met with Mel Arnold
Thompson-Okanagan Branch of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress’s Don Blakely and Andrea Malysh shared concerns with North Okanagan-Shuswap MP Mel Arnold recently. (Contributed)

Wide-ranging and productive talks have taken place on the challenges facing Ukrainian newcomers to the area.

The Thompson-Okanagan Branch of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress (UCC) met with North Okanagan-Shuswap MP Mel Arnold Feb. 22 to discuss issues relating to the Canadian Ukrainian community.

President Andrea Malysh and governance director Don Blakely asked specific questions of the Conservative MP.

Of particular interest was the discussion around the Conservatives’ recent vote in opposition to the Canada Ukraine Free Trade Agreement.

“Mel stated there was already a free trade agreement with Ukraine which the Conservatives support, the Liberals inserted extra language relating to carbon pricing, something that did not belong in the new agreement, and knew the Conservatives could not agree to,” explains Malysh.

“This was clearly an attempt by the Liberals to drive a wedge between the Conservative Party and the Ukrainian community.”

Arnold emphasized his party’s strong support for the Ukrainian community and said that their vote did not reflect any diminished support for the Ukrainians but rather was an expression of their fundamental opposition to carbon pricing.

“When exercising that vote the Conservatives did so with the comfort that knowing that, despite their formal opposition, the Bill would still pass and benefit both Ukraine and Canada. He assured us that the Conservatives still retain strong supporters for the Ukrainian community.”

The discussion also covered issues such as supporting childcare initiatives that will enable single Ukrainian parents to seek gainful employment; the need for support funding from the federal government being fairly distributed to smaller UCC branches and not just the large urban branches; and the need to fund and support trauma counselling for newcomer families.

Talks also focused on the need to streamline the re-registration process for the Canada-Ukraine Authorization for Emergency Travel program and supporting the proposal to release to Ukraine the hundreds of old unused tactical missiles that are currently sitting in Canada’s military stockpiles awaiting destruction.

“The UCCTO thanks Mel Arnold for the opportunity to have a full and frank discussion and to thank him for the Conservative party’s deep support for the Ukrainian community and its concerns,” said Malysh.

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Jennifer Smith

About the Author: Jennifer Smith

Vernon has always been my home, and I've been working at The Morning Star since 2004.
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