The spring session of the Manitoba Legislative Assembly officially began Wednesday with the introduction of two new bills, but the specter of a Russian invasion of Ukraine was front and center.
Members of the Legislative Assembly were united against a common enemy and in favor of democracy, but divided on how best to show it.
“Manitoba stands with the people of Ukraine,” Premier Heather Stefanson told the House.
She condemned Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “heinous attack” on Ukraine and said it was not the first time Ukrainians had suffered under an “evil” dictatorship. The prime minister noted the monument on the grounds of the legislature to victims of the Holodomor, famine and man-made genocide in Ukraine organized by Russian dictator Joseph Stalin in the 1930s.
Manitobans are united with Ukrainians to “make sure this doesn’t happen again,” she said.
The government has pledged $150,000 in humanitarian aid to Ukraine and is working to send more than 100 prospective immigrants to Manitoba’s Provincial Nominee Program. He also pledged to work with the federal government to welcome refugees who have fled Ukraine.
That’s not enough, critics say.
“We know we need to do more,” said NDP leader Wab Kinew, who called on members “to unite against a common enemy – that enemy is Vladimir Putin.”
Manitoba should welcome thousands of Ukrainian immigrants and refugees and provide them with support and settlement services, he said at home. The province should waive the $500 application fee for Nominee Program applicants from Ukraine, a country where many Manitobans have roots, Kinew said.
There were 18 Ukrainian candidate files in the Nominee Program system recently, and all of them were prioritized, completed and sent to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada for permanent residency approval, according to the press secretary of the Immigration Minister Jon Reyes.
These are in addition to the 36 files of Ukrainian candidates previously sent, said Brant Batters, who could not provide specific dates on Wednesday evening.
Kinew and Liberal Leader Dougald Lamont have both called on the Premier to match Manitobans’ donations for humanitarian aid to Ukraine and ensure the province supports economic sanctions and does not host any business dealings with foreigners. Russian entities supporting Putin.
“We know that it is necessary to take steps to lift the veil of secrecy that helps protect the business interests of some of the oligarchs who allow Vladimir Putin,” Kinew told reporters during a scrum outside the legislative chamber. .
“Manitoba’s business registry is a black box,” Lamont said, adding that there are a few Russian oligarchs who have assets in Manitoba. He called on the provincial government to create a transparent and searchable public registry that could identify them.
“It’s the only way to identify the assets and freeze them to put more pressure on Russia and help Ukraine,” Lamont said.
However, Manitoba already has “some of the most comprehensive laws in the country,” the premier’s press secretary, Olivia Billson, said Tuesday.
The Business Ownership Registration, Supervision and Transparency Act, 2019 requires businesses registered in Manitoba to track individuals who own 25% or more of an interest in voting shares, including those out of province and abroad.
“We can also confirm that the Manitoba government’s borrowing and investing activities in no way involve Russia,” she said.
Two government bills were tabled on Wednesday.
Bill 11 (Elections Amendment Act) authorizes the use of vote counting machines and removes the requirement to publish a candidate’s residential address.
Bill 10 contains two legislative changes: one would allow pharmacists to continue performing COVID-19 tests, the other allows virtual meetings of co-op and condo owners, corporate directors and shareholders to continue. continue after the pandemic.
After 20 years of reporting on the growing diversity of people who call Manitoba home, Carol joined the office of the Legislative Assembly in early 2020.
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