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Canadian Members of Parliament and invited guests applaud as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky addresses the House of Commons, on March 15 in Ottawa.Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky urged Canada to help protect the skies over his country as the wartime leader asked Parliamentarians to imagine life in his shoes: explaining cruise missile strikes to his kids and receiving daily memos tracking the civilian death toll, including the killing of 97 children.

Imagine the Russian military laying siege to Vancouver, bombs ripping into Toronto’s CN Tower and Ottawa’s airport, and Russian flags replacing those of Canada in Montreal, Mr. Zelensky said in an emotional speech to a joint session of Parliament on Tuesday.

“I would like you to understand and I would like you to feel what we feel every day,” he said. “We want to live and we want to be victorious. We want to prevail for the sake of life.

“You all need to do more to stop Russia, to protect Ukraine.”

In his historic address via video link, Mr. Zelensky expressed both thanks for what Canada has done and frustration that it hasn’t gone further. The sweeping sanctions imposed on Russia and military support for Ukraine have not been enough to end the war, he pointed out. And in the face of a mounting death toll and human-rights atrocities, he renewed his call for a no-fly zone.

“Can you imagine when you call your friends, your friendly nations, and you ask: ‘Please close the sky, close the air space, please stop the bombing’ … in return, they express their deep concerns about the situation,” Mr. Zelensky said. “We talk to our partners and they say, ‘Please hold on, hold on a little longer.’”

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Canada and its NATO allies have rejected a no-fly zone for fear it would escalate into a full-blown war with Russia.

But the Official Opposition broke with Mr. Trudeau’s stand, with interim Conservative leader Candice Bergen telling Mr. Zelensky that her party now supports his call for NATO to use its air power to stop Russia from killing civilians trying to escape the war.

“We need to protect at a minimum the airspace over the humanitarian corridors, so that Ukrainians can seek safe passage away from war zones and to allow humanitarian relief to reach those areas under siege,” she said in the House.

MPs and senators crowded into the House of Commons for the speech. The public galleries were also packed with diplomats and members of the Ukrainian-Canadian community wearing lapel pins with Ukraine’s blue-and-yellow striped flag.

“We are not asking for much. We are asking for justice, for real support which will help us to prevail, to defend, to save lives, to save lives all over the world,” Mr. Zelensky said. He hailed Canada’s leadership and said, “We are asking for more of your leadership, and please take a greater part in these efforts.”

The Ukrainian leader received several standing ovations and was met with shouts of “Glory to Ukraine.”

Mr. Zelensky painted a picture of what life would look like if the bombs were falling on Canada, and appealed to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to do more to help his war-ravaged country.

“Justin, can you imagine, you, your children hearing all these severe explosions?” Mr. Zelensky asked.

“How can you explain to your children that a full-scale aggression just happened in your country? You know that this is a war to annihilate your state, your country. You know that this is the war to subjugate your people.”

The speech was part of Mr. Zelensky’s campaign to rally support for Ukraine and push Western allies to give more humanitarian aid and bolster his military’s defences. He’s set to speak to a joint session of the U.S. Congress on Wednesday.

Twenty days in, Russian bombs have killed hundreds of civilians, targeted hospitals and flattened entire neighbourhoods. The UN refugee agency estimates more than three million Ukrainians have fled the country and more than two million are internally displaced. Very few of those fleeing the war have made it to Canada. The government said so far only about 7,400 Ukrainians have come here since the beginning of January.

Canada has pledged well over $1-billion in financial, humanitarian and military assistance for Ukraine, including Canadian-made air strike targeting equipment installed in drones used by the Ukrainian military. Last week, Mr. Trudeau said the government would spend $117-million for a fast-tracked immigration program for Ukrainians. Three weeks into the war, the streamlined program is expected to launch soon.

Over the weekend, Ukraine’s chargé d’affaires Andrii Bukvych told CTV News that Ukraine needs more sophisticated weapons. He noted that Canada has not lifted its visa requirements, and urged the country to expedite its immigration process.

The Prime Minister introduced the Ukrainian leader in the House on Tuesday, calling him a “champion for democracy” and adding that Canada likes to “root for the underdog.”

“You’re defending the right of Ukrainians to choose their own future, and in doing so, you’re defending the values that form the pillars of all free, democratic countries,” Mr. Trudeau said.

After Mr. Zelensky’s address, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet and Ms. Bergen lauded Mr. Zelensky’s courage and leadership.

Calling Russian President Vladimir Putin a “warmonger and a violent predator,” Ms. Bergen urged the Trudeau government to open Canada’s door to Ukrainians who are huddled in overflowing train stations and makeshift refugee camps in Eastern Europe. “We can be a safe haven until peace is restored,” she said.

Mr. Blanchet said Ottawa must “arm Ukraine more rapidly and significantly,” and Mr. Singh said Canada needs to “welcome Ukrainians that are fleeing this crisis.”

Mr. Trudeau also announced on Tuesday that his government has added 15 more Russian officials to its sanctions list, which freezes any assets in Canada and bars others from doing business with them here. The newly added individuals include deputy prime minister Dmitry Grigorenko, Economic Development Minister Maxim Reshetnikov and navy commander Admiral Nikolai Yevmenov.

As politicians were gathering in the House of Commons to hear from Mr. Zelensky, Moscow announced it was barring most of Canada’s members of Parliament, including Mr. Trudeau and much of his cabinet, from travelling to Russia.

Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly brushed off the Russian ban. “I’m not surprised, and I won’t back down,” she told reporters.

Innovation Minister François-Philippe Champagne said the travel ban on Canadian parliamentarians reveals Russian weakness. “I see that as another sign that the Putin regime is in disarray, because what he is trying to do is silence democracy,” he said after the speech.

Alexandra Chyczij, president of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress, said Ukrainian-Canadians are fighting “hand and fist” to assist their former homeland in the face of Russian aggression.

“The entire world understands that Ukraine needs to arm itself. It is going to need to be supplied,” she said. “Whether it’s ground to air missiles, whether it’s a no-fly zone or whether it’s a humanitarian corridor, there are many ways to fight this battle.”

Ms. Chyczij also urged Ottawa to ensure Ukrainians flooding Eastern European countries can come here as soon as possible.

She warned the war in Ukraine will lead to famine in the less developed world because Ukrainian farmers will not be able to seed grain this spring.

Ms. Chyczij was also blacklisted by Russia on Tuesday. She said her response to the ban was: “LOL.”

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