‘Every night is a horrible night:’ Zelenskyy pleads for no-fly zone during parliamentary address

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky addresses Canadian House of Commons.

By Michael Ranger, Cormac Mac Sweeney

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy made history on Tuesday addressing the Canadian Parliament and pleading for continued support amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

In his virtual speech in the House of Commons, Zelenskyy asked Canadians to imagine if their country was under a similar attack.

“Can you imagine the famous CN Tower in Toronto if it was hit by Russian bombs?” asked Zelenskyy during his address. “Every night is a horrible night.”

The House of Commons was full for the first time in two years with most MPs there in person and dozens of invited guests in the public galleries.

The Ukrainian president acknowledged and thanked Canada for their assistance and aid in recent weeks. Zelenskyy continued to make his pitch to NATO allies to enforce a no-fly zone, asking Canadians to imagine if they were facing Russian missile attacks.

“We are not asking for much. We’re asking for justice, for real support,” he said.

Canada, along with other allies have denied the request for a no-fly zone out of fears it will lead to an escalation of war in Europe.

“Volodymyr, in the years I’ve known you, I’ve always thought of you as a champion of democracy, and now democracies around the world are lucky to have you as our champion,” said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, in a short introduction before the president spoke.

“Your courage and the courage of your people inspires us all.”

Trudeau also announced sanctions against 15 more Russian officials during his introductory speech for the Ukrainian President.

“Ukrainians are already paying incalculable human costs. This illegal and unnecessary war is a grave mistake. Putin must stop it now,” Trudeau said.

During his address, Zelenskky said the sanctions imposed so far have not been enough to deter Russia and encouraged more measures to ensure it cannot continue to support its war effort.

Trudeau announced that Canada will send another $50 million of specialized equipment to help Ukraine while he was visiting Europe last week. He also imposed sanctions on Russian oligarchs, government officials and supporters of the country’s leadership.

Canada has committed $145 million in humanitarian assistance to Ukraine in 2022 and created new immigration measures to help people fleeing the war.

Shortly after Zelenskyy’s address, it was confirmed Trudeau, Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly, and Defence Minister Anita Anand were placed on a list of Canadians banned from Russia. Their names were included in a list of banned foreigners on the Russian embassy’s website.

Zelenskyy made his speech as Russia’s military offensive closes in on the country’s capital. Conservative MP Michael Chong told CityNews the speech comes at a pivotal moment in history where an ally is standing up for shared political values.

“A belief in human rights and freedoms and a belief in the rule of law, all those are under attack,” says Chong.

The Russian attacks in Ukraine have intensified in recent days with more than three million people having fled the country so far and airstrikes hitting the capital of Kyiv.

While Canada has been a leading nation in supporting Ukraine, some opposition Conservatives and NDP say there is more the federal government could be doing to assist fleeing Ukrainian civilians and provide lethal weapons to soldiers.

NDP critic Heather McPherson says there needs to be a better focus on helping refugees.

“How do we protect those humanitarian corridors? How do we help Ukrainians fleeing violence?,” she asks.

Parliament is not scheduled to sit until March 21, but House Speaker Anthony Rota approved a special request to hold the address and allow guests to attend.

With files from The Canadian Press

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