Remarks during the visit of the Prime Minister of Poland, Mateusz Morawiecki
Prime Minister Morawiecki, Mateusz. Thank you for coming to visit us here in Canada. You’ve welcomed me a little over a year ago to Poland, and I’m glad to be here welcoming you here today. 1 million Canadians claim Polish heritage and half a million of them live here in Ontario, many of them in Toronto.
So, it’s quite fitting that we be meeting here today. Before I begin, however, I want to take a moment to address the devastating wildfires happening across the country. Communities are being displaced. This is a scary time for a lot of people from coast to coast to coast. Minister Blair is working with provinces, territories and municipalities. Our number one priority is keeping Canadians safe and making sure that they have the support they need.
As you know, the Canadian Armed Forces are supporting and I spoke with the Chief of Defence Staff this morning. We will continue to be there to support in whatever ways we can.
To Canadians affected by the wildfires, we’re here for you. We are continuing to work with the provinces, territories and municipalities to make sure you get the help you need to keep everybody safe.
Prime Minister Morawiecki and I had a productive meeting this morning. At the top of our agenda was the Kremlin’s brutal and unjustifiable invasion of Ukraine, which has redrawn the security landscape of Europe after decades of peace and prosperity.
Poland is on the front line of the violence and the atrocities committed by Vladimir Putin and his cronies. Of the more than 8 million Ukrainians who have had to leave their country since the start of the conflict, Poland has welcomed millions. I had the opportunity to meet refugees during my visit to Poland last year. Canada has welcomed nearly a quarter of a million Ukrainians since last year, and provides humanitarian aid to Ukrainian refugees in Poland and throughout Europe. But we know that the most important thing we can do to support them is to help Ukraine defend its sovereignty.
As partners and allies, Canada and Poland are working together to train members of the Ukraine- of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. Canadian Armed Forces members are in Poland right now, training them through Operation Unifier, Canada’s training mission that since 2015 has trained over 36,000 Ukrainians. Poland is also where CAF members have been training Ukrainians to operate Leopard 2 tanks. Earlier this year, we deployed Canadian Armed Forces members to support a Polish-led advanced medical skills training program for Armed Forces of Ukraine personnel.
And just last week, we deployed more CAF trainers as part of a new round of military support to Ukraine. Poland and Canada are both also strong allies in NATO. In fact, Poland is a significant contributor to the Canada-led NATO battle group in Latvia, contributing over 170 troops to the mission.
Since the invasion was launched, Canada has committed over $1 billion in military equipment to Ukraine, including Leopard 2 tanks, a National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile System, armoured vehicles, anti-tank weapons and M777 howitzers, ammunition and more.
This is part of the more than $8 billion in aid Canada has provided to Ukraine, including economic support. Across Europe, we’re seeing economic shifts in reaction to Putin’s brutalities, including his weaponization of energy. Energy security is an urgent issue for Poland and countries across Europe. Like-minded countries around the world are working to build stable relationships with partners who have values that align so we can build resilient supply chains. This is about energy security, yes, but it’s also about economic opportunities and the economy of the future: a net-zero economy. Canada is ready to be the supplier of energy that a net-zero world will need.
Canadian companies are already investing in renewable energy in Poland. Canada’s Northland Power has partnered with the Polish firm Orlen to build a 1.2 gigawatt wind farm in the Baltic Sea. We’re also strengthening the already robust trade between our countries. Since our government launched CETA, trade between Poland and Canada has increased by 53% to nearly $4 billion a year. The work that we’re doing together will create good jobs and build a safer, more prosperous future for both our countries.
I’m grateful to have been able to meet today and grateful to have such a strong security and trade partner in Eastern Europe.
We’re both steadfast friends and supporters of Ukraine. I know you met with President Zelenskyy just yesterday, and together we are committed to coordinating and sustaining support for Ukraine around the world.
As democracies, Poland and Canada maintain close ties that unite our economies and populations, and today’s meeting has enabled us to strengthen these important ties.