Support for Ukraine and the climate impact of the military were both on North Island-Powell River MP Rachel Blaney’s mind as she participated in the NATO Parliamentary Assembly (NATO PA) in Vlinius, Lithuania over the weekend.
Parliamentarians from the 30 NATO countries were present at the spring session to discuss security concerns, namely supporting Ukraine. Ukrainian ministers spoke at the event during different committee meetings, including Deputy Prime Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration, Olha Stefanishyna and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dmytro Kuleba.
“Participating in the NATO PA when there is a war in Europe is significantly different than past conferences I have attended. Both Ukrainian parliamentarians and the ministers shared their lived experiences of the war. What they disclosed will stay with me for the rest of my life,” Blaney said. “I was able to share some of the amazing work happening in our riding to support Ukraine and messages of love and solidarity I have heard from my constituents.”
Blaney attended the Economics and Security Committee and the Democracy and Security Committee. Discussions there centered around how military action and resources contribute to climate change, and those present acknowledged that greenhouse gas emissions come from military activities and that militaries need to be involved in mitigating and responding to the climate crisis.
“I heard repeatedly that the increased impacts of the climate crisis will result in more climate refugees and violence. Important and urgent work needs to be done on this file across all the member countries. Investment in this work is critical and must happen now,” Blaney said.
The weekend ended with a lunch meeting with Ukrainian MPs Yehor Chernihiv and Galyna Mykhailiuk.
”Hearing the realities on the ground are hard. The impacts on Ukraine are profound. The discussion focused on how our countries can continue to collaborate during this time and how we can plan for the long haul,” Blaney said. “I was also able to share some stories from our riding of the work being done to support Ukrainian families who have come to our region.”