The Official Opposition is calling on the government to expel Russia’s ambassador to Canada and to recall the Canadian envoy to Moscow.
Interim Conservative Leader Candice Bergen is also urging Ottawa to revoke any broadcasting licences for Russian state funded television network RT, formerly known as Russia Today, and work with other countries to isolate Moscow internationally.
The recommended measures were developed in consultation with Conservative foreign affairs critic Michael Chong and caucus.
This comes as Russian President Vladimir Putin continues his military assault on Ukraine for a third day, including laying siege to the capital of Kyiv.
“Putin’s invasion of Ukraine is the first major European conflict since the Second World War, and a serious violation of international law and our collective humanity,” Ms. Bergen said.
“This unprovoked attack, coming on the heels of a joint pact between the Russian Federation and the People’s Republic of China, is the most serious threat to the rules-based international order since 1945 – and because of that, a serious threat to global peace and security.”
The Conservatives say one of the most consequential measures Canada could take is to displace Russia as a natural gas supplier to Europe.
“Russia supplies 40 per cent of Europe’s natural gas, and uses this to intimidate Europe and Ukraine, threatening to cut off supplies to Europe,” Ms. Bergen said.
“Canada is the world’s fifth largest natural gas producer, but we can’t export gas to Europe to assist European democracies because we can’t get pipelines built.”
Separately, the World Refugee and Migration Council, a non-governmental organization, urged Western countries to prepare for a flood of Ukrainian war refugees.
“Canada must plan now to take a million or more Ukrainian refugees,” the council, chaired by former foreign affairs minister Lloyd Axworthy, said. “The federal government should also initiate discussions immediately with the provinces on a nation-wide coordination and resettlement plan while simultaneously integrating its efforts with its allies,” the council said.
“We stress that exceptional commitments Canada can make to support Ukrainian refuges must be over and above the vital efforts Canada has already promised for refugees elsewhere, including in Afghanistan, Uganda and Syria.”
The Russian embassy also said in a statement that it is prepared for any further developments.
”In any case, while we can, the embassy and both consulates intend to continue working in order to keep open channels of communication with the government of Canada and to provide consular services to the Russian citizens,” the statement read.
Canada, in concert with Western allies, imposed sanctions this week against many targets in Russia, including Mr. Putin himself.
Ms. Bergen, however, said more needs to be done.
“Declare Russia’s Ambassador to Canada Oleg Stepanov persona non grata and expel him from Canada,” she said.
She also called on Canada to “revoke licences of state-controlled broadcasters that spread disinformation and propaganda,” so that Russia Today (RT) is taken off Canada’s airwaves.
Russian forces continued to pound Kyiv and other cities with artillery and cruise missiles in a campaign that has sent hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians fleeing westwards towards the European Union, clogging major highways and railway lines.
The Conservatives are also calling on Canada to help lead an effort to make Russia a pariah internationally, including by “seeking Russia’s removal from organizations like the G20 and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).”
The Official Opposition is also repeating its call for Ottawa to allow visa-free travel by Ukrainians to Canada so they can seek refuge here.
However, Ms. Bergen said it shouldn’t stop there. She urged Canada to rethink its defence policy in light of Moscow’s behaviour — including a revised and updated plan to protect the Canadian Arctic, which borders Russia.
“It’s time to take seriously Canada’s Arctic security and sovereignty. Canada, like Ukraine, shares a border with Russia. We can no longer afford to take our peace and security for granted. The government needs to come forward with a robust plan for Canada’s Arctic that will modernize NORAD’s early warning system among other measures,” she said.
More to come.
With files from Reuters.
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