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Ukrainian servicemen check their Sweden-made CV90 armoured infantry combat vehicle in the Donetsk region on Nov. 27.GENYA SAVILOV/Getty Images

Pierre Poilievre’s Conservatives failed in a bid Tuesday to delay the revised Canada-Ukraine free trade deal from coming into force until references to carbon pricing are removed.

Conservative MP Kyle Seeback proposed a motion at the Commons trade committee that would hold back the entry into force of Bill C-57, enabling legislation for the upgraded Canada-Ukraine Free-Trade Agreement (CUFTA), until mentions of carbon pricing and related measures were struck from the treaty.

The Conservative Party under Mr. Poilievre has made fighting charges on fossil fuels arising from carbon pricing – what it calls a carbon tax – a central focus of its work as Official Opposition.

It’s rare to see a partisan split in Parliament on matters related to Ukraine, a subject on which the Liberals and Conservatives have traditionally agreed. Ukraine has been battling an all-out military assault by Russia since February, 2022, and Canada has to date provided Kyiv with more than $9-billion in support.

Mr. Seeback’s proposed amendment Tuesday was ruled inadmissible by Liberal MP Judy Sgro, chair of the trade committee, and when the Conservatives challenged her ruling it was upheld by a vote of Liberal and NDP MPs on the committee.

Pierre Poilievre playing to base on Canada-Ukraine free-trade agreement is a compromise on democracy

This has also led to the Conservatives voting against the legislation to enable the revised CUFTA deal, signed by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky earlier this year, because Mr. Poilievre has alleged it would impose a carbon tax on Kyiv.

Ukraine, however, has denied this, saying the treaty contains no carbon tax. The revised Canada-Ukraine trade treaty replaces the original deal, which took effect in 2017. The updated agreement includes new chapters on investment and trade in services, among other things.

The Conservatives angrily rejected allegations Tuesday from Liberal rivals that their opposition to the wording of this revised trade treaty – and their vote last week against the legislation to enact it – represents support for Russian President Vladimir Putin. Deputy Liberal government house leader Mark Gerretsen has accused the Conservatives of turning their backs on Ukraine and Mr. Trudeau during Question Period Tuesday taunted Mr. Poilievre over the matter. “How is the Leader of the Opposition explaining to Ukrainian Canadians right across the country that he no longer stands with Ukraine on things they need right now to win this war against Russia?”

Revised Canada-Ukraine free-trade agreement does not contain carbon tax, Ukraine says

The Conservatives point out the existing Canada-Ukraine trade deal remains in effect even if there is no updated treaty enacted and defended their criticism as legitimate.

“It’s causing no harm whatsoever,” Mr. Seeback said of Conservative opposition to the wording of the treaty, noting that the committee managed to wrap up scrutiny of C-57 Tuesday despite his party’s concerns. The bill has been supported by Liberal, NDP and Bloc Québécois MPs, which together outnumber the Conservatives.

“We get to oppose bad pieces of legislation. We get to oppose your ideological obsession with carbon taxes, carbon prices, and the misery they’ve imposed on Canadians,” Mr. Seeback told Liberal MPs.

Conservatives also tried, and failed, on Tuesday to add measures to the trade deal’s enabling legislation that would encourage the production and shipment of arms and munitions for Ukraine. Ms. Sgro also ruled these out of order – because they concern matters that are “beyond the scope of the bill” – and her decision was backed by Liberal and NDP MPs in a subsequent vote.

“It is weapons and not a carbon tax” that will have a concrete impact on the outcome of the Ukraine-Russia conflict, Conservative MP Garnett Genuis told the committee.

Mr. Seeback said the Conservatives would support the trade treaty’s enabling legislation if the Liberals removed the reference to carbon pricing and related measures. The text of the new trade deal says both sides are expected “to promote carbon pricing and measures to mitigate carbon leakage risks.”

He raised concern about the reference to fighting carbon leakage, in which countries’ emissions-reducing efforts are undermined by heavily polluting industries shifting to less environmentally responsible competitors.

Andrew MacDougall, who served as a communications director to former prime minister Stephen Harper, said he doesn’t understand the Poilievre Conservatives’ vote against the CUFTA legislation.

“Memo to the Conservative Party: Everybody and their mother already knows you want to axe the carbon tax,” he said. “Voting against a bill the Ukrainians want passed in order to prove your anti-carbon tax bona fides is as stupid as robbing Volodymyr to pay Vladimir,” Mr. MacDougall said.

Alexandra Chyczij, the national president of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress, which advocates for people of Ukrainian origin, said she hopes the Conservatives will rethink their position.

“The Ukrainian Canadian Congress was disappointed that the Official Opposition unanimously voted against legislation that would update the Canada Ukraine Free Trade Agreement,” she said in a statement. “We call on the Official Opposition to revisit this position before third reading.”

Ms. Chyczij said “supporting Ukraine means supporting measures to build Ukraine’s economic resilience through instruments such as free trade agreements.”

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