Liberal MP Chrystia Freeland on Ukraine -

Liberal MP Chrystia Freeland on Ukraine

‘I think it is a real tragedy,’ says the rookie Liberal MP with Ukrainian heritage

Sean Kilpatrick/CP

Sean Kilpatrick/CP

As the Liberal party’s policy convention gets underway this evening in Montréal, rookie Toronto MP Chrystia Freeland will be onstage interviewing U.S. economist Lawrence Summers. Freeland is being showcased for her economic policy chops—she’s the author of Plutocrats, an award-winning book about income inequality—but I wonder if, given the timing, it wouldn’t be more interesting to hear her hold forth on the grim situation in Ukraine.

Freeland happens to own, with her sister, an apartment that overlooks the Kyiv square where the world has watched barricades built and burned, and clashes between determined anti-government demonstrators and police doing the dirty work of an increasingly ruthless regime. Before she was an economic journalist and author, Freeland studied Russian history. She speaks Ukrainian, thanks to her Ukrainian-Canadian mother, and studied and lived in Kyiv during two stints back in the late eighties and early nineties.

In an interview this afternoon, Freeland told me she is “absolutely preoccupied” with the alarming situation in the country to which she is so closely attached. (She had been checking Ukrainian social media moments before we spoke.) “I think it is a real tragedy,” she said of the crackdown in recent days on anti-government demonstrators. “It needs to transcend political parties.”

Since December, the Liberals has been pushing for Canada to impose sanctions against the government of President Viktor Yanukovych. Freeland said those sanctions should include restrictions on travel by Yanukovych’s officials and the confiscation assets they and their families might hold abroad. She added, “I think we need to provide a refuge for protestors who may be fearing for their lives and their families.”

As well, Freeland said Canada, as home to such a large population of Ukrainian immigrants and their decendants, has the standing to play a role in brokering a deal between the government and the protestors. “We really could do that—Canada has an disproportionate voice there,” she said. Going further, she called for pressure to hold elections to replace Yanukovych. “I think we have to say this government is illegitimate, there need to be new elections, and offer to have those elections held under international auspices.”

For more on this story, Maclean’s has this report from Katie Engelhart in Kyiv and this analysis from Michael Petrou. For more on Freeland’s view, here is a recent piece she wrote on the situation for Prospect.


Liberal MP Chrystia Freeland on Ukraine

  1. Is Chrystia Freeland going to ask Larry Summer this weekend if he still thinks that women are not as smart as men (as he did when he was Harvard President)? Or is she going to swoon over this general of the banksters and the 1%, who led the repeal of Glass-Steagal under the Clinton Admininistration, and demanded the non-regulations of derivatives, bullying Brooksley Born out of government?

    • Crystia Freeland, the sassy smart, globe-trotting provocateur and editor of ThomsonReuters Digital, helped open the 2012 Aspen Ideas Festival yesterday evening by pushing back against Walter Isaacson’s characterization of the American idea.

      Isaacson spoke of America being a hotbed of ideas and values that rub and push against each other, ultimately producing a balance and harmony among divergent interests. Freeland pushed back, saying “that’s Canada — not America.”

      “America,” Freeland argued, “is the place of revolutions.”

      She said that in the past, those who rose up against tyranny had to place bets on who and how many might protest and go to the streets. She said, “if a hundred people went out, they ended up in prison. If a million show up, the leader goes to jail.” Today, she said, technology allows protestors and organizers of revolutions to scale up and communicate across networks of networks. Leaders per se aren’t needed in this densely communications enmeshed world, but there will be many revolutions as individuals garner power from those who have tried to corner and monopolize power.”

      3 cheers for Crystia’s success in Canada.

      I rather doubt that Ms. Freeland will swoon to Larry Summers, but call him out like the rich white entitled elite he is.

      #Revolution and #Power2thepeople

      • Freeland and Summers are both from Harvard. they are both elite. Freeland is after the protest vote. Once she gets it, she’ll be back onside with the 1%.

        • Let’s hope not. What are your thoughts on her book?

          • I haven’t had time to read it but let’s face it – she’s a journalist with a major in slavic studies not an economist.

  2. Chrystia Freeland is a major in Slavic Studies not an economist. This book is pure politics and nothing more.

    • Interesting point. Of course, nowhere in the article does Geddes refer to Freeland as an economist, but I suppose that’s beside the point.

    • Article reads more like an advert for her book.

      • Advertorials at their finest!

    • The book is simply brilliant. We tea partyers here in the Wild American West of… LOL….. Aspen look up to Ms Freeland, along with the revolutionary David Stockman, as gurus.

  3. So Trudeau’s “economic guru” isn’t allowed to deliver a speech, but she is allowed to interview Larry Summers, the guy who ruined the world economy. Absolutely brilliant. Just what the Liberals need, taking advice from an incompetent American economist. Brilliant!

    • This is why Cons are so bad at business…and the economy. They can’t learn.

      • How can we raise the GDP?

      • Why aren’t you contradicting Freeland’s stance on Ukraine? You were certainly pro-Putin in your comments before Freeland made the trip to her family homeland Ukraine.

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