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MP Bezan proud of being banned from Russia

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A Manitoba member of Parliament who is banned from Russia, along with a dozen other Canadian lawmakers and officials, sees the sanction as "a badge of honour."

James Bezan (Selkirk-Interlake) said he was singled out because he’s been "an outspoken critic of the Russian invasion of Crimea" and the "antics" Russians have used in "orchestrating their sham and charade of a referendum" in the region.

"I see it as a badge of honour," the Conservative MP said in a phone interview. "And I believe that all 13 Canadians that were sanctioned today feel the same way. These punitive measures being taken by Russia against us will not silence our criticisms of their foreign policy right now in relation to Ukraine."

Also among those slapped with an entry ban into Russia are government House Leader Peter Van Loan, Commons Speaker Andrew Scheer and other Conservative and Opposition MPs.

Also named are Wayne Wouters, the clerk of the privy council; Jean-Francois Tremblay, deputy secretary to the cabinet; and Christine Hogan, assistant secretary to the cabinet.

Sen. Raynell Andreychuk, an independent Liberal senator, is also on the list, along with Paul Grod, national president of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress.

The Russians say the Canadian sanctions are unacceptable and have inflicted serious damage on relations between the two countries.

Bezan said he probably drew the ire of the Russians for his condemnation of the aggressive Russian actions in Ukraine both inside and outside the House of Commons.

He also accompanied Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird to Kyiv three weeks ago to show Canadian support for the transitional government there.

"I’ve been quite critical of the Russian Federation and President (Vladimir) Putin in particular," he said.

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