Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. believed that the arc of the moral universe is long but that it bends toward justice.
He also knew that there are evil men in the world, who seek to thwart that benign curve and push us all back into darkness.
Because of those men, there are moments in history when the great struggle between freedom and tyranny comes down to one fight, in one place, which is waged for all of humanity.
In 1863, that place was Gettysburg. In 1940, it was the skies above Britain. Today, in 2022, it is Kyiv.
Today, on the cobbled streets of that golden-domed city, a fierce and united citizenry, led by its extraordinary President, is fighting a barbaric invasion.
Those courageous Ukrainians are fighting for themselves, and they are also fighting for us all.
I bow my head in solemn respect to Ukraine and to all Ukrainians. Canada is proud to stand with you.
But there is another side to this story. While brave Ukrainian civilians gamely learn how to make Molotov cocktails to defend their homes, one of the world’s most brutal war machines is bombarding them.
Not content to terrorize his own people, President Vladimir Putin is seeking to impose his tyranny on his democratic, freedom-loving neighbours.
In launching this war, President Putin attacked the values and the international rules-based order which are the foundation of all the democracies of the world.
And in so doing, he and his hangers-on have forfeited the right to partake in the global prosperity which we, the world’s democracies, have built together.
That is why, acting together with Europe, the United States, and the United Kingdom, we today have put in place the toughest sanctions ever imposed on a major economy.
No Canadian financial institution — including the Bank of Canada — will undertake any transaction with the Russian Central Bank. The world has moved to cut Russia off from the SWIFT payments system.
These measures will cut Russia off financially from the western world, and will render useless much of the war chest of reserves that Vladimir Putin has amassed at his Central Bank.
And to our Russian counterparts who are today struggling vainly to prop up a ruble in freefall, let me say: We warned you.
Twelve days ago, I urged the Governor of the Russian Central Bank not to allow her government to launch an illegal and unprovoked war. I cautioned her that if Russia took this horrible step, it would be, as Talleyrand reportedly said, “worse than a crime — it would be a mistake.”
The West’s economic sanctions, I warned, would be swift, coordinated, sustained, and crushing.
They are. And they will continue to be.
Dictators, very much including the Kremlin’s tyrant, often fail to understand democracies.
We can seem, to them, to be weak and divided, compared to the servile conformity that they impose on their societies at the barrel of a gun.
But our very openness to debate and dispute means that once we are agreed on a course of action, we are strong and we are united.
The people of Ukraine are today showing the incredible strength of a free people fighting for their democracy.
And the world’s democracies are equally resolute in our support for the brave people of Ukraine.
This is one of those times, and one of those places, where freedom confronts tyranny. We are determined that freedom will triumph, and it will.
Slava Ukraini! Слава Украіні!