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Zelenskyy speech to Parliament ‘very powerful and inspirational address’

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Winnipeg musician Chantal Kreviazuk said it felt like attending a vigil Tuesday, to sit in the House of Commons as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy addressed Parliament.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 15/03/2022 (322 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Winnipeg musician Chantal Kreviazuk said it felt like attending a vigil Tuesday, to sit in the House of Commons as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy addressed Parliament.

“I wanted to be in the room because I know how the Ukrainian people have suffered and how they’ve never given up on democracy,” Kreviazuk told the Free Press. “Sadly, and yet inspirationally, they are fighting for that value, for everybody right now.”

MPs made a special trip to Ottawa from ridings across Canada to take in Tuesday’s speech, despite Zelenskyy appearing virtually.

Canadian parliamentarians and guests give Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy a standing ovation as he addresses the Canadian parliament, Tuesday in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Kreviazuk flew in from her home in Toronto, saying it was important to show Ukrainians they have support from all sectors of Canadian society.

“Feeling that history that we share in the room today was really comforting to me,” Kreviazuk said, from the Ottawa airport.

Kreviazuk grew up in Manitoba with the stories of Ukrainian relatives who fled Stalin’s regime, which she said inspired her to join the United With Ukraine campaign, an effort by the Ukrainian Canadian Congress to donate protective gear and medical supplies to the eastern European country’s military.

The campaign invited her to sit in the Commons for Tuesday’s speech, which was packed with MPs, senators, Indigenous leaders, judges, ambassadors and artists.

Zelenskyy relayed the horrors Ukrainians have suffered through the ongoing Russian bombing of his country. He thanked Canada for its support, while pressing for more military intervention.

After the speech, Kreviazuk said she had a brief discussion with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, whom she refers to as a friend. She told him Canada needs to not just suffocate Russia economically, but to protect Ukraine’s airspace from Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“He’s a junkie and he needs detox. He wants money and power; that’s his justice — and that’s what they need him to cut him off,” she said.

Kreviazuk argued Ukraine could defeat Russia if it had adequate equipment, pointing to reports of thousands of Ukrainians abroad returning home to fight in the war. “Ukrainians have a feisty soul. They’ve been through a lot, and it’s in the veins.”

Winnipeg South MP Terry Duguid said the speech had even more gravity than the handful of dignitaries he’s seen address the Commons.

“It was a very powerful and inspirational address that touched all of our hearts,” said Duguid. The Liberal MP’s great-grandparents immigrated from Ukraine, a country he has visited four times, including as an election observer.

“I felt I had to be here to support president Zelenskyy, but also to support my community who are pressing our government to do more,” said Duguid, arguing Canada could send more aid and weapons, while ramping up sanctions.

Duguid said Canada is lockstep with European and G7 nations in how it will respond to Zelenskyy’s demand for a no-fly zone.

The Ukrainian government argued Russia will expand its bombing campaign beyond Ukraine if it’s not stopped, but western leaders argue shooting down Russian planes could trigger a nuclear war.

“In our hearts, we want to do more, but there are risks,” Duguid said.

In a response to Zelenskyy’s speech, Conservative Leader Candice Bergen pleaded for a no-fly zone, at least for humanitarian corridors.

“We must stand with Ukraine, it is not a choice, it is a moral duty,” the MP for Portage—Lisgar told the House.

“We need to protect, at a minimum, the air space over the humanitarian corridors, so that Ukrainians can seek safe passage away from the war zones, and to allow humanitarian relief to reach those areas under siege.”

Her Manitoba colleague James Bezan agreed, arguing the Russian regime will otherwise continue ratcheting up actions that amount to war crimes.

The MP for Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman cancelled constituency events and made a special trip to Ottawa. “It was important for us as parliamentarians to be there en masse to show our support,” Bezan said.

He praised Zelenskyy for asking people to imagine the events in Ukraine transpiring in major Canadian cities.

“It made it very real for all of us, and it should impact the perspective we have as Canadians, who take our peace and security for granted,” Bezan said.

“His emotions and his message hit us all like he was standing in the chamber with us.”

dylan.robertson@freepress.mb.ca

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