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Russia ambassador to Canada Oleg Stepanov pauses during an interview at the Russian embassy January 25, 2022 in Ottawa.Dave Chan/The Globe and Mail

Canada is being urged to expel Russia’s ambassador Oleg Stepanov in the wake of Moscow’s unprovoked attack on Ukraine.

“The Russian ambassador should be sent home. He represents a terrorist, criminal regime,” said Orest Zakydalsky, a senior official with the Ukrainian Canadian Congress, which represents people of Ukrainian heritage in Canada.

Russia launched a wide-ranging offensive against Ukraine early Thursday morning local time and the conflict has pitted Ukrainian forces against Russian invaders around nearly all of the country’s perimeter. This is the biggest attack on a European state since the Second World War.

Marcus Kolga, president of the Central and Eastern European Council in Canada and a senior fellow at the Macdonald Laurier Institute think tank, agreed, saying that “expelling the ambassador would send a strong message that Canada will not tolerate his government’s neo-imperialist aggression.”

Former federal Industry Minister James Moore also called for Mr. Stepanov to be expelled, urging Parliamentarians to lead the way by tabling a motion in the House of Commons to this effect. The Canadian government does not require Parliamentary consent for ousting foreign envoys.

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While Canada’s ambassador to the United Nations, Bob Rae, did not call for the expulsion of Russian diplomats in this country, he did describe Russian President Vladimir Putin as a war criminal on Twitter. Mr. Rae also retweeted Mr. Moore’s call for a motion in Parliament to expel Mr. Stepanov.

Asked for comment on the notion of expelling Mr. Stepanov, Russia’s embassy in Canada said in a statement that people are entitled to their own opinions. “It’s a pluralistic world. There are many opinions out there.”

Neither the Conservatives nor the NDP are calling for the expulsion of Mr. Stepanov in their comments today.

The Ukrainian Canadian Congress is also urging Canada to work with allies to enact drastic sanctions on Moscow including cutting off Russia from the SWIFT International Payments System that supports most international money and security transfers.

“Russia has declared war on Ukraine. Russia seeks to destroy Ukraine and the Ukrainian people,” Ihor Michalchyshyn, CEO and executive director of the UCC said.

“Devastating economic sanctions need to be implemented against Russia’s economy, banks, property that oligarchs own and Russian assets in the west need to be seized. Russia’s banks need to be shut off from the SWIFT International Payments System immediately. Sanctions must be implemented against Russia’s central bank. The sources of funding of Putin’s war machine need to be cut off. Ukraine needs weapons with which to defend itself right now. Today. Most importantly they need anti-air systems like stinger missiles and other air defense and naval defense systems.”

“A no-fly zone needs to be implemented over Ukrainian airspace by Ukraine’s friends and allies to protect Ukrainian civilians from Russia’s bombardments. Ukraine will need economic support and humanitarian aid in the very trying days ahead. Russia is trying to destroy Ukraine and threatening the rest of the world with aggression. Russia is a rogue state with a criminal, terrorist regime. Russia needs to be declared a state supporter of terrorism. In the 1930s the world was slow to recognize the danger that Adolf Hitler posed to our civilization. We cannot make that same mistake again with Putin.”

Interim Conservative Leader Candice Bergen said her party “stands in solidarity” with Ukraine and its people.

“Putin’s contemptible aggression and invasion of Ukraine is unacceptable. His attack on the Ukrainian people and their democratically elected government is despicable.

“Autocrats like Putin should and will be judged harshly. Conservatives stand ready to defend the rules-based international order against these grievous violations of international law.”

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh urged the Canadian government to apply sanctions to Russian President Vladimir Putin “where it hurts most.”

The NDP leader condemns the Russian invasion of Ukraine and called on Ottawa to impose severe economic sanctions on Russian oligarchs close to Mr. Putin. " By expanding sanctions to the assets of ultra-wealthy oligarchs and barring their financial interactions, Putin’s own wealth will be exposed, and it compromises his ability to protect the oligarchs who enable him,” Mr. Singh said.

He also urged Canada to work with allies to cut off Russia from the SWIFT banking network.

Mr. Singh also called for visa-free access to Canada for Ukrainians so they can flee to safe havens.

Canada has granted citizens of more than 60 countries and jurisdictions visa-free access to this country, and while Canadians can visit Ukraine for up to 90 days without a visa, Ukrainians require one to travel to Canada.

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