NDP foreign affairs critic Paul Dewar criticized his Conservative counterpart for comparing Adolf Hitler’s annexation of territory outside Germany to Russia’s seizure of Ukraine’s Crimea region.
Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird has more than once publicly invoked Hitler’s invasion to describe Moscow’s military activity, including as recently as Tuesday, when he met with the Ukrainian ambassador to Canada and said, “it is not lost on the rest of the world that this was the same argument made before the Second World War for the annexation of the Sudetenland from Czechoslovakia in 1938.”
Speaking outside the House of Commons on Thursday, Mr. Dewar said he believes there are “more appropriate analogies” and said the focus now should be on actions, not words.
“I wouldn’t have chosen the analogy, frankly, that Minister Baird chose,” he said. “In fact, I think there are more appropriate analogies if you wanted to do that … Making analogies from World War II I’m not sure is relevant as it is to actually be very declarative on Mr. Putin and engage with Mr. Putin as to why we want him to respect the sovereignty of Ukraine. That’s most important.”
Prime Minister Stephen Harper made the analogy this week, too, calling Russian President Vladimir Putin’s military intervention in the strategic, Russian-speaking Crimea region an “invasion and occupation” of the former Soviet state.
“What has occurred, as we know, has been the decision of a major power to effectively invade and occupy a neighbouring country, based upon some kind of extraterritorial claim of jurisdiction over ethnic minorities,” Mr. Harper told the Commons. “We have not seen this kind of behaviour since the Second World War.”
South of the border, former U.S. secretary of state Hillary Clinton’s use of the analogy sparked intrigue after a local newspaper reported her remarks and national media then scrambled to match the story, citing sources who had been at the private fundraiser in Long Beach, Calif.
Ms. Clinton, a potential 2016 presidential candidate, said Mr. Putin’s assertion that he is safe-guarding Moscow’s interests and protecting ethnic Russians in Crimea smacks of the justification Hitler put forward.
“Now if this sounds familiar, it’s what Hitler did back in the 30s,” she said, according to the Long Beach Press Telegram. “Hitler kept saying [Germans in places such as Czechoslovakia and Romania] are not being treated right – ‘I must go and protect my people.’ And that’s what’s gotten everybody so nervous.”
Adam Hodge, a spokesman for Mr. Baird, said the minister doesn't second-guess his remarks. "We make no apologies for the comparison," he said, noting that others, of various political stripes, have made the same analogy.