Secretary Antony J. Blinken with Canadian Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland and Canadian Foreign Minister Mélanie Joly
FOREIGN MINISTER JOLY: Well, thank you, everyone, for being here. It’s really a pleasure to welcome you, Secretary – well, my dear Tony, mon chéri Tony. It’s really a pleasure. And we wanted to make sure that we would provide you a bit of a glimpse of what is happening here in Canada when it comes to welcoming the Ukrainian community as they’re facing a brutal invasion by Russia, but at the same time we wanted to make sure that we continued to work with the U.S. in terms of supporting Ukraine fighting against Russia. You and I have been working on this before the invasion.
Actually, this week is our one week anniversary in terms of being a government since 2021. It’s been a week now that I’m a minister – a year now that I’ve been a minister of foreign affairs. And I think from the first meeting we had and the time since then, we’ve been working on making sure that we have a strong support to Ukraine. So thank you for being here, and obviously we’ve been working with the deputy prime minister who is a proud – also of Ukrainian descent – because it is important again that we show across the country our solidarity to the Ukrainian people.
DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER FREELAND: And I’ll just briefly say, bienvenue, Tony.
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Merci.
DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER FREELAND: (In French) to welcome you here to show you our Ukrainian Canadian community and the Canadian response to this illegal invasion of Ukraine. And I do just want to say thank you to you personally, thank you to the U.S., thank you to President Biden. America really today is leading the free world in a fight that really is a fight for democracy. It’s a fight for democracy and sovereignty in Ukraine, but this is also a fight for our democracy, our – Canada’s democracy, America’s democracy. You recognized that even before the invasion happened, and it’s an honor for Canada that you’re here. Thank you.
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Thank you both so much. It’s wonderful to be here. We’re going to have a lot more to say later today, but I’m particularly pleased to have a chance to be here in the Café Ukraine, because it goes to what makes Canada so special – a country that time and again, year after year, decade after decade, has taken in so many people who are in need, in – at risk – more than a million refugees, I think, since the 1980s, which is extraordinary. And we see that again, of course, with the many Ukrainians who have come to Canada as well as to the United States given the Russian aggression that’s befallen their country again – reinvasion in March – of February this year.
But I think the hallmark of what we’ve done since then is really two things: one, we’ve seen the extraordinary courage and resilience of the Ukrainian people as they push back the Russian aggression; but two, we’ve been able to support them in that effort. And from day one – as Mélanie said, even before day one, the United States and Canada working together helped prepare for the rising storm that we saw and then try to make sure that Ukrainians get what they need to fend off the aggression and retake their land. But also making sure that those Ukrainians who left had a place to go and were welcomed with open arms.
And what we see here in this café is really wonderful because it gives a sense of community to people who have just had to leave everything behind. It creates networks for them to make sure that they can adjust and adapt to their new home, at least for now. I think most people want to go back to the home that they left, and hopefully that’ll happen as soon as possible. But meanwhile the fact that they’re so warmly and generously welcomed in Canada makes all the difference in the world.
FOREIGN MINISTER JOLY: And we want to thank Yaroslav, and —
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Yeah.
FOREIGN MINISTER JOLY: — (inaudible), and Anton, and all of them —
FOREIGN MINISTER JOLY: — yes, as well – for your work here, and we’re proud of the work you’re doing. And this is just Canada, so welcome here.
MS GARBUTT: It’s what we do.
FOREIGN MINISTER JOLY: We welcome people very well.
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Yes.
MS GARBUTT: We do.
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Merci, tout le monde. Thank you.
FOREIGN MINISTER JOLY: Merci, tout le monde (inaudible).