The Russian government has banned entry to 13 Canadian senior civil servants and politicians in retaliation for punitive actions that Ottawa levied on Moscow elite over the annexation of Crimea and the destabilization of Ukraine.
The largely symbolic sanctions, which do not target Prime Minister Stephen Harper or Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird, come hours before the Group of Seven is expected to suspend Russia from the G8 and cancel a planned summit in Sochi. This is anticipated later Monday but not yet confirmed by Ottawa.
According to a statement circulated by the Russian Foreign Ministry, the list of targeted Canadians includes a handful of senior servants, a couple of senior ranking Conservatives, three Tory backbenchers and outspoken opposition critics.
Mr. Baird called Moscow's tit-for-tat action against Canadian lawmakers and officials a "badge of honour" for Canada in its campaign against the annexation of Crimea.
"It's been a unique moment in the Canadian Parliament when all parties and just about all [MPs] have spoken with clarity and have spoken together about our desire to stand up to this type of military aggression," Mr. Baird.
He said he would speak to his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, about the measures.
"Canadian officials named today by Russia aren't oligarchs; they aren't people threatening to annex peaceful neighbours by military force and we find this announcement deeply concerning," Mr. Baird told reporters in The Hague, on the sidelines of a nuclear security summit.
Those hit with the ban on entry to Russia include:
- the country’s top civil servant, Privy Council Clerk Wayne Wouters;
- House of Commons Speaker Andrew Scheer;
- Government House Leader Peter Van Loan;
- Christine Hogan, a senior foreign affairs adviser;
- deputy secretary to the cabinet Jean-François Tremblay;
- Liberal MPs Chrystia Freeland and Irwin Cotler;
- Senator Raynell Andreychuk;
- NDP MP Paul Dewar;
- Conservative MPs Dean Allison, Ted Opitz and James Bezan;
- Paul Grod, head of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress.
Mr. Cotler, a former federal justice minister and human-rights lawyer, shrugged off the sanction. Speaking via Twitter, he said: “I see my travel ban from Russia as a badge of honour, not a mark of exclusion.”