FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – Fort St. John councillors were joined by MP Bob Zimmer on Tuesday to raise the Ukrainian flag outside city hall.
Councillor Tony Zabinksy brought the request forward to council on February 28th to display solidarity with the residents of Ukraine following unprovoked Russian attacks.
Council voted in favour of flying the flag for the next 30 days once the flag was received.
On Tuesday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy delivered a passionate plea for a no-fly zone and more sanctions to starve out Russia’s finances in a speech to the Canadian Parliament.
Appearing by video from Ukraine, Zelenskyy asked Canadians to imagine the terror and horror unfolding in his country as if it were happening in their own as the Russian invasion is now in its 20th day.
The death toll confirmed by the United Nations is now close to 700. Zelenskyy said 97 of the dead are children.
“Every night is a horrible night,” he said, speaking in Ukrainian, to a crowded House of Commons where almost every MP, many senators and dozens of members of the public gathered to listen.
“We are not asking for much. We’re asking for justice, for real support.”
In a speech lasting more than 20 minutes, he asked Canadians to imagine if Russian bombs were falling in cities like Vancouver, Edmonton or Toronto, or how it would feel if Canada’s allies responded to a request for a no-fly zone with expressions of concern but also fear that it would escalate the war.
“Please close the sky, please close the airspace. Please stop the bombing. How many more cruise missiles have to fall on our cities before you make this happen?’” he asked.
Zelenskyy issued a similar plea for a no-fly zone in the British House of Commons March 8th, and is expected to do so again Wednesday when he speaks to the United States Congress.
NATO countries, including Canada, have thus far resisted the request, fearing it would escalate the crisis by forcing NATO forces to come into direct combat with Russian military.
Trudeau did not address the no-fly zone in his speech that welcomed Zelenskyy to Parliament. He thanked him for defending freedom, not just for Ukraine, but for everyone.
“In the years I’ve known you, I’ve always thought of you as a champion for democracy,” Trudeau said. “And now, democracies around the world are lucky to have you as our champion.”
Zelenskyy said Canada has always been a reliable partner for Ukraine, but the sanctions and other assistance provided so far have not ended the war. Ukraine, he said, needs to close the airspace, with NATO’s help, to keep Russian aircraft and missiles from continuing to destroy the country.
Canada has previously worked to send weapons including guns, as well as protective gear to Ukraine. Last week it added $50 million in equipment including cameras for surveillance drones.
Canada has also sanctioned more than 900 Russian, Ukrainian and Belarusian entities and individuals it says are enabling and supporting President Vladimir Putin’s illegal war. Fifteen more Russians, mostly politicians and military leaders, were added to the list Tuesday morning just before Zelenskyy spoke.
As the Zelenskyy speech unfolded, Putin hit back by banning more than 300 Canadians from Russia, including Trudeau, Joly, Gen. Wayne Eyre, chief of defence staff, and more than 80 per cent of Canada’s 338 MPs. Russia also banned many Americans, including President Joe Biden.
With files from The Canadian Press