HOW DEEP is our support for Ukraine? Are Canadians willing to pay even more for gasoline at the pumps or is it all talk?
It’s a sacrifice that Germans are willing to make. Germany’s Foreign Minister said: “For us as the German government, it was important to show that for a free and democratic Ukraine, we are willing also to accept consequences for our national economy. Peace and freedom in Europe don’t have a price tag.”
As of now, Canadian support is tepid. In a recent poll by the Angus Reid Institute, the pollster characterizes Canadian’s support for Ukraine as being at an “arm’s length.”
Two thirds of respondents to the poll said they would be willing to send humanitarian aid (medicine, food, medical personnel) but only 13 per cent would see Canadian troops fighting alongside Ukrainians.
A disappointing 20 per cent want nothing to do with the invasion; they want to stay out of it completely. They have obviously forgotten how quickly a megalomaniac’s conquests can come close to home.
Now, as in the beginning of the Second World War, the conflict is seen as “over there.” Older Canadians understand how toxic that attitude can be as Hitler marched into country after to country.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine sent oil prices above US$100 a barrel for the first time in almost eight years.
Russia produces around 17 per cent of the world’s oil, and 13 per cent of its natural gas.
Oil was already in short supply before the invasion as we recovered from the pandemic-induced slowdowns. Rising oil prices have fueled inflation to multi-decade highs.
That’s a far cry from the early COVID-19 lockdowns in March and April of 2020. As cars and planes were parked, demand for fuel plummeted. At one point, West Texas Intermediate oil futures went negative.
With inventories tight, oil and gas sanctions of 4.3 million barrels a day from the third-largest producing country would exact a toll on everyone. But the toll of doing nothing to stop naked aggression would be greater.
Oil and gas exports account for nearly 60 per cent of Russian exports, so pinching off energy shipments would inflict the more damage to Russia than the West.
If Canada supported sanctions against Russian oil, inflation will increase: everything will cost more. Every US$10 increase in oil prices pushes up inflation by around 0.4 percentage points according to Bank of Montreal economists.
Canada has cut off Russian oil but that’s largely symbolic because imports from Russia only amount to 2.5 per cent of our total imports.
What will hurt the Russian warmongers the most is if all global supplies from Russia are cut off. Regrettably that will push the cost of gasoline even higher.
On the positive side, it would help wean us away from fossil fuels.
Canadians are willing to show support for Ukraine but how deep is that support for our fellow Canadians – Canada has the largest number of citizens of Ukrainian origin in the world, outside Russia.
Would support include a hit to the pocketbook or are we just talk?
David Charbonneau is a retired TRU electronics instructor who hosts a blog at http://www.eyeviewkamloops.wordpress.com.