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Leaders Must Do the Right Thing for the People of Ukraine

Cody Battershill

As the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine becomes more dire under intense Russian military attack, it’s difficult to predict what the situation will look like once this column is published.

But it’s clear that Canada and our Western allies must do everything we can to help Ukrainian citizens and to prevent the bloodshed from continuing in Ukraine and spreading through the European region.

I’ve said it before; some large-scale energy procurement decisions made by Canada and other allied nations aren’t always about pure commerce. When a society faces an existential threat from a hostile neighbour, that society deserves our humanitarian assistance – full stop.

As I’m writing, a global groundswell continues to develop on the topic of energy sources and their implications on a democratic Ukraine and it civilians. A consensus is developing.

In February, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz suspended the certification of Russia’s Nord Stream 2, the natural gas pipeline running under the Baltic Sea from Russia to Germany.

Canada recently banned Russian crude oil imports. And as of this writing, the U.S., European countries and Japan were in discussions over a similar ban on Russian oil imports.

Russia, one of the world’s largest petroleum shippers with exports of four to five million barrels per day (bpd) of oil and two to three million bpd of refined products, is becoming a global pariah as energy buyers shun its shipments.

At a time when much of the world desperately looks for appropriate tools to assist Ukraine, isn’t it clear that we should make the global trade in energy one of those appropriate tools?

Let’s take this a step further. Canada’s reputation as a principled supplier of energy, produced to the highest environmental and climate mitigation standards and supported by a world-leading R&D community and a peerless workforce, means Canadian product can assist in filling the Russian void.

But the world will require more Canadian resources – not less. Those resources will include agriculture, forest products, potash, minerals and energy.

I just hope Canadians see this unprecedented crisis as a time for reflection on not only Russia and Ukraine, but on Canada as a global player. That assistance can only come through a strong, focussed natural resources strategy, through policies for future Canadian development and export, and through considering how our values continue to align with environmental and climate leadership, strong social engagement, robust and transparent governance and a clear focus on energy security.

This isn’t just about commerce. Any discussion on sustainability and markets is a discussion about people. In Ukraine at this moment, a humanitarian crisis is growing, and our values dictate that we must support that population any way we can.

Cody Battershill is a Calgary realtor and founder / spokesperson for CanadaAction.ca, a volunteer-initiated group that supports Canadian natural resources sector and the environmental, social and economic benefits that come with it.