Minister of Foreign Affairs John Baird holds a media availability in the Foyer of the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Monday, May 26, 2014. Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press
Escalating conflicts in Ukraine and the Middle East pose a serious threat to global trade, Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said today, as Canada sent a third and final shipment of supplies to Ukraine.
Baird made the comments during his address Friday to the Chamber of Commerce in London, Ont.
The "non-lethal" supplies for Ukraine's military are intended to bolster the Ukrainians' efforts to secure their eastern border, according to a release from the Department of National Defence. The CC-177 Globemaster III aircraft left from Trenton, Ont., earlier Friday.
Baird said Friday in his address that Russia's "militaristic and expansionist government" threatens peace and stability in the region. He also criticized Russian President Vladimir Putin for his continued "attempts to destabilize Ukraine’s democratically elected government."
"This 19th-century imperial behaviour is absolutely unacceptable to Canada," Baird said.
He said the increasing threat of militarization of Russia and instability in Iraq emphasizes the need for better global security cooperation.
"You can’t have open trade when it is necessary to take actions like sanctioning Russia over its provocations in Ukraine," Baird said.
"And frankly, you can’t have a prosperous air industry bringing the world together when planes are being shot out of the sky."
Ukraine had threatened to block an aid convoy from Russia from crossing its borders, leading to fears of escalation of the conflict.
Ukraine has been reluctant to allow the convoy to enter over suspicions that it's a ruse to get military help to separatist rebels. It agreed to let the Red Cross distribute aid in the eastern Ukrainian town of Luhansk after Russia allowed Ukrainian officials to inspect the convoy of roughly 200 trucks.
Protesters interrupt Baird's speech
Baird's Chamber of Commerce speech was interrupted by demonstrators who demanded an answer for his stance on the conflict in Gaza.
"If you are a Palestinian family who wanted to express your political opposition to the terrorist group Hamas in the Gaza Strip, you would not be able to do that, so we live in a very blessed country," Baird responded before quickly returning to his speech.
Earlier this week, Baird took to Twitter to scoff at the UN for its appointments to a commission examining possible war crimes in Gaza.
Canadian human rights lawyer William Schabas was chosen to lead the commission.
Schabas has been critical of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the past, once suggesting that he believes Netanyahu should be "in the dock of an international court," but he called allegations that he is biased against Israel "absurd."
Baird said the appointments were an "utter shame" that will do nothing to promote peace for Israel and the Palestinians.
Listen to Chris Hall's interview with Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird on The House this Saturday at 9 a.m. on CBC Radio One and Serious XM Satellite Radio on channel 169.
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