Harper rejects Crimea ballot

Canada has denounced the controversial referendum in Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula on Sunday that showed overwhelming support to split off and join Russia, saying it would lead to further isolation of Russia’s Vladimir Putin.

OTTAWA — Canada has denounced the controversial referendum in Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula on Sunday that showed overwhelming support to split off and join Russia, saying it would lead to further isolation of Russia’s Vladimir Putin.

“The so-called referendum held today was conducted with Crimea under illegal military occupation. Its results are a reflection of nothing more than Russian military control,” Prime Minister Stephen Harper said in a statement.

“This ’referendum’ is illegitimate, it has no legal effect, and we do not recognize its outcome,” the prime minister said, adding Canada is working with other countries on the possibility of further sanctions.

“Any solution to this crisis must respect the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine as well as the constitution of Ukraine. Mr. Putin’s reckless and unilateral actions will lead only to Russia’s further economic and political isolation from the international community.”

Earlier Sunday, protesters in at least two Canadian cities joined the international condemnation against the ballot.

Some protesters applauded Harper’s decision to travel to Ukraine this Friday to show support for the temporary government in the face of Russian aggression in the strategic Black Sea region.

“This is an already an important symbolic visit showing support to the Ukrainians,” said Lada Roslycky, a human rights campaigner who organized an Ottawa protest across the street from the Russian embassy.

About 100 protesters staged a mock referendum outside the heavily-guarded embassy. They brandished signs that denounced Russian President Vladimir Putin as organizers passed out fake cash, and urged mock voters to vote as often as they liked for either of two options to cede from Russia — yes and yes — as demonstrators in military garb stood over a fake ballot box.

They were joined by hundreds in downtown Toronto who braved frigid temperatures to march against what they called an illegitimate ballot.

They took to the streets just hours before the committee managing the referendum released results that said 95 per cent of voters supported joining Russia. That was based on half of the ballots counted by Sunday evening.

Standing across the street from the Russian embassy, Yaroslav Baran, a former senior Conservative aide, denounced the Crimea ballot as “an old style Soviet election.”

“It’s really frightening,” said Baran, who is of Ukrainian descent and has relatives living close to the Crimean Peninsula.

“This is classic Putin playbook. We’ve seen it in Georgia, we’ve seen it in Azerbaijan — doing this in the name of protecting minorities . . . and it turns into a permanent military occupation.”

Andrew Tsylke, a Kyiv native living in Ottawa, was visibly struggling with his emotions as he contemplated the situation in his homeland.

“It’s a very dangerous situation. It’s close to real war,” he said.

Roslycky suggested Canada and its allies could impose travel restrictions on the wives of Russian oligarchs, “the ladies who are associated with the men who are running the Crimea because they have a tendency to go and shop in very expensive places, spend a lot of money in Europe and in the U.S.”

Roslycky said that could put pressure on Russian officials “to cool it.” She said Russians who typically get to travel abroad are not the poor people who suffer under Putin’s oppression.

Canada and its allies say Sunday’s snap referendum is illegal and they will not recognize its result.

Just Posted

Alberta hiring more paramedics and buying new ambulances, none for Red Deer

Red Deer Mayor Tara Veer is not concerned the provincial government didn’t… Continue reading

‘My nightmare began again’: Close call as bus carrying Humboldt crash survivor rear-ended

CALGARY — A terrifying ordeal for Humboldt Broncos survivor Ryan Straschnitzki this… Continue reading

Halifax airport operations normalize after Boeing 747 runway overshoot

HALIFAX — The Halifax Stanfield International Airport has resumed normal operations a… Continue reading

Bentley family left without a home grateful for community support

Central Albertans are coming together to support a Bentley family left homeless… Continue reading

Red Deer RCMP ready for new mandatory alcohol screening law

Red Deer RCMP are ready to enforce a new law intended to… Continue reading

WATCH: Red Deer and District Kennel Club Dog Show at Westerner Park

The Red Deer and District Kennel Club is holding a dog show… Continue reading

Brothers, 20, face second-degree murder charge in death of teen: police

MISSISSAUGA, Ont. — Police west of Toronto say two brothers have been… Continue reading

A young mayor, his friend, and a fatal attraction to opioids

MOUNT CARBON, Pa. — Janel Firestone found her son — the 24-year-old,… Continue reading

GM fights to retain key tax credit amid plant closing plans

WASHINGTON — General Motors is fighting to retain a valuable tax credit… Continue reading

TTC union asks provincial government to step in on transition to Presto

TORONTO — The union representing transit workers in Canada’s most populous city… Continue reading

Small pot growers find roadblocks on path to microcultivation licences

Yan Boissonneault’s daughter was turning blue. Without warning, his baby had stopped… Continue reading

No winning ticket for Friday night’s $60 million Lotto Max jackpot

TORONTO — There was no winning ticket for the $60 million jackpot… Continue reading

In Hollywood of Mississippi, voter fraud like a movie script

CANTON, Miss. — In a town that calls itself the Hollywood of… Continue reading

Trump picks Army chief of staff as next top military adviser

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump announced Saturday that he’s picked a battle-hardened… Continue reading

Most Read