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MP Cannings urges Canada to open doors to Ukrainians

South Okanagan-West Kootenay MP Richard Cannings says Canada ought to do more to allow Ukrainians fleeing their country to come here, but he doesn’t think the government should offer more military aid to fend off Russia’s invasion.

“In a situation like this where Ukrainian citizens are trying to flee the country for safety, we could waive visa requirements so they can get out of Ukraine into Canada at least temporarily,” he says.

“Many of these people would want to return once things are stable. But we shouldn’t be holding people up from leaving Ukraine just for the want of a visa processing bureaucracy. We should be allowing them into Canada if they’re Ukrainian citizens and let’s worry about the red tape later.”

Cannings says Canada should play a “significant role” in responding to the invasion, as it home to the world’s largest Ukrainian population outside of Europe. He applauded the sanctions Canada has imposed to date on Russia and called for more to freeze the assets of oligarchs.

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But while he said providing said “non-lethal support” such as body armor to protect Ukrainians might valuable, he didn’t think additional military aid would be effective.

Cannings says he was shocked and surprised at Russia’s invasion, and that while he is not an expert on Russian affairs, he expected Russia would move cautiously into eastern Ukraine to solidify its hold.

“But to have a full-scale invasion with the intent of regime change. That, I must admit, surprised me. It’s something that should really happen.”

Cannings called the situation “an absolute tragedy” and said he hopes Russian president Vladimir Putin and the Russian military “will realize their mistake. We have to hope for some sort of diplomatic solution. We’re all hoping for peace, however that can happen, with the least loss of life.”

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