The free trade agreement signed on July 14 between Canada and Ukraine may be just symbolic, as there is actually very little trade between the two countries.
However, Prime Minister Stephen Harper achieved getting pictures and video footage for his election campaign vault, shaking hands with his Ukrainian counterpart Arseniy Yatsenyuk. Even though it can only really be called pandering, no doubt he’s hoping that Canadians of Eastern European descent will be impressed.
My momma taught me that “You are known by the company you keep,” and that was the moral of one of Aasop’s Fables called The Ass And His Purchaser. Did our PM ever learn the same lesson about the wayward ass at his mother’s knee, when there are media reports of the Neo-Nazi Azov Battalion and Chechen Islamists fighting quite openly for the regime in Kiev against ethnic Russians in eastern Ukraine.
Another early lesson learned was “Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.” Somehow our PM also missed that one while growing up, as he was the first Western leader to visit Ukraine after the coup early last year.
Remember that the democratically elected government of President Yanukovych was ousted following the Maidan protests, in which the Neo-Nazis played a large part in overrunning police and seizing government buildings, from where they displayed Nazi flags. Now we have a free trade deal with a country that openly embraces factions that would be vigorously condemned in Canada; more alarmingly, there is every chance that any military arms we may supply to Ukraine could fall into the hands of Neo-Nazis and Chechen Islamists.
The ancient saying from the Sanskrit military book “Arthashastra” comes into play here: “The enemy of my enemy is my friend,” but the question for Canadians is: do we really need friends like these?
May be a good idea for all Canadians, regardless of heritage and ethnicity, to take a look at our strange relationship with dangerous factions in Ukraine before casting a vote in October; pandering and politics does make for strange bedfellows, after all.