The MLA for Steinbach was instrumental in getting government officials this week to put all other matters aside and discuss the current situation in Ukraine.
Kelvin Goertzen says he brought forward an emergency motion on Wednesday, which was accepted by the NDP and Liberal parties. Goertzen notes he worked with them last weekend in order to get their acceptance to set the normal business of the Legislature aside and rather debate the issues going on in Ukraine.
"I appreciate the other parties working together with me on that on the weekend and ensuring we could go forward with that," says Goertzen.
He notes all MLAs knew how important it was to have a dedicated day focused on discussing Ukraine in order to come forward with different ideas for support.
According to Goertzen, Manitoba has already committed $150,000 in funds for Ukraine. He notes on Wednesday our province also committed to being more aggressive in trying to ensure that we get refugees from Ukraine when they come to Canada. He notes this is more of a national discussion, though Manitoba has been working with the federal government on this matter.
"Where we hear more ideas in terms of how we can not only provide support but in a humanitarian way provide relief for those who are coming from Ukraine, we want to do that," says Goertzen. "That really fits into the spirit of what Manitoba is, we have for the entirety of our existence been open to those who are coming to Manitoba and I think we want to continue to do that."
Meanwhile, the war in Ukraine has caused Goertzen to reflect on a special ceremony he was part of back in 2019. In June of that year, while Education Minister, Goertzen says the Manitoba government signed a memorandum of understanding with a school in Ukraine. The agreement allows students at Novopecherska School in Kyiv to study the Manitoba high school curriculum and earn a Manitoba high school diploma.
The agreement authorizes Novopecherska to offer a Manitoba Blended Program for grades 9 to 12, and allows students who complete all credits and program requirements to graduate with a Manitoba high school diploma and a Ukrainian high school diploma. At the time of the signing it was said that students will be encouraged to use the Manitoba diploma to apply to Canadian post-secondary institutions.
Goertzen says just the other day he took a virtual tour of Novopecherska School. He noticed at the entrance of the school they have both a Canadian and a Ukrainian flag.
"That was both kind of touching but also kind of sad because we're seeing this atrocity that's being put upon the Ukraine people by Vladimir Putin and it's really, really heartbreaking," says Goertzen.