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The House of Commons passed legislation Tuesday to implement an update to Canada's free trade agreement with Ukraine that its president signed during a visit to Ottawa last year.

It happened without the support of a single Conservative member of Parliament, despite months of repeated calls from Ukrainian groups for Tories to change their position.

Tories were booed by their political rivals as they voted against the bill, and Liberals repeatedly accused them of turning their backs against the war-torn country.

Liberals, New Democrats and the Bloc Québécois all voted in favour of the modernized deal.

On his way out of the House following the vote, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau described the Conservatives' position as "inconceivable."

Tories have repeatedly asserted that they support Ukraine, but they oppose the bill because the deal says both countries aim to promote carbon pricing.

Ukraine has had a price on pollution since 2011, and Canadian officials have said that the language in the bill is non-binding and does not require the country to maintain carbon pricing.

"This is an agreement negotiated by Canada and Ukraine," Trade Minister Mary Ng said Tuesday.

"Ukraine wants to have a high-standard agreement like that with Canada, with high standards for the environment, high standards on labour, innovative chapters to help small- and medium-sized businesses benefit from trade."

House of Commons approves modernized Canada-Ukraine trade deal without Tory support. #CDNPoli #FreeTradeAgreement #Ukraine

She said the agreement, which Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy signed last September, will enable Canadian businesses to help with Ukraine's eventual postwar recovery.

The Senate still needs to approve the bill before it can become law.

The Ukrainian Canadian Congress thanked MPs who supported the bill on Tuesday in a written statement, and expressed "disappointment" that the vote was not "unanimous."

The advocacy group called on all Canadian political parties to ensure Ukrainian people receive the support they need as the two-year anniversary of Russia's full-scale invasion nears.

For the past few months, Liberals have seized on the Conservatives' position on the free trade bill and tried to create a political wedge.

They have accused the Opposition of importing "American right-wing" politics to Canada, and pressured Tory MPs in Prairie ridings with large Ukrainian diaspora communities to stray from the party line, even taking out newspaper ads.

Treasury Board President Anita Anand said earlier Tuesday that the vote was meant to demonstrate Canada's commitment to the rules-based world order.

"It is also a matter of working with our NATO allies to ensure that we continue to be cohesive as a collective support for Ukraine, and that needs to continue," she said.

Earlier in the day, Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre said if he becomes the next prime minister, he plans to provide more weapons to Ukraine for its war effort. He also said Canada should send more natural gas to Europe so countries can decrease their reliance on Russian energy.

"Justin Trudeau is a big talker and a little doer when it comes to Ukraine," Poilievre said.

"He's made all these announcements of hundreds of millions of dollars of different equipment that he's actually never delivered."

To date, Canada has committed more than $9.5 billion in aid to Ukraine, including $2.4 billion in military aid, but some Western assistance has been delayed, including Canada's planned donation of an air defence system.

Tuesday's vote came as new polling from the Angus Reid Institute found support for Canadian assistance to Ukraine is waning, especially among Conservative voters.

The pollster said that among respondents who voted for the Tories in the last federal election, the proportion who agree Canada is doing too much to help Ukraine has nearly doubled since May 2022, from 19 to 43 per cent.

The online survey of 1,617 Canadians was conducted at the end of January. Online polls can't be assigned a margin of error because they are not considered truly random samples.

Liberal House leader Steve MacKinnon seemed to blame Conservative leadership for that trend on Tuesday.

"When Mr. Poilievre shows faltering leadership in the face of such a moral imperative, then you can obviously expect that those who follow him are going to start to falter as well," he said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 6, 2024.

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