Hundreds of Calgarians filled City Hall Plaza on Sunday, calling for Canada to provide greater support to the beleaguered nation of Ukraine.
And for many, it was a chance to reflect upon and rally for an end to the war brought by the Russian Federation against the Eastern European nation 11 days ago.
Two-thirds of Calgary City Council were joined by five Calgary Conservative Party of Canada MPs from Calgary in speaking to the assembled crowd.
Mayor Jyoti Gondek said having several city councillors was important to show Calgary’s Ukrainian community that local government “actually cares.”
“We care about our community and we’re here to show our support and their strength and standing together,” she said.
“Many members of Council were able to come today and those that were not, also send you their message that they stand with you.”
Conservative MPs take aim at Liberal Party response
Calgary Shepard MP Tom Kmiec, who was born in Poland and emigrated to Canada in the mid-1980s, likenedd the Russian invasion to a return of the oppression he experienced during the Cold War.
“My father was a member of the Solidarity movement, so nobody needs to tell my family about what the Russian Federation is capable of,” he said.
“The peace that we thought that we had achieved in 1989 and 1991 is being undone before our eyes.”
The CPC MPs also took aim at the federal Liberal party for not doing enough to punish Russia. They echoed Premier Jason Kenney and UCP MLAs, calling for an absolute halt to the importation of any petroleum products into Canada from the Russian Federation.
The federal government announced this week that it would be placing an embargo on all crude oil shipments from Russia to Canada. A gesture that was criticized by the CPC MPs as being empty, given that Canada has not imported any crude oil from that nation since 2019.
The horrors of war brought home
During the rally, a video was shown that updated Calgarians as to the current war situation in Ukraine. The emotional, several-minute-long video had parents holding their children tight, as Russian Federation forces targeting civilian populations was a central focus of the presentation.
“We’re witnessing the unthinkable, a madman who controls the largest country in the world, the second-largest nuclear arsenal in the world, and one of the biggest armies in the world, has invaded Ukraine without cause or justification,” said Bohdan Romaniuk, a community leader for the Ukrainian community in Calgary.
Romaniuk characterized what Russian Federation leader Vladimir Putin was doing as genocide, attempting to obliterate the Ukrainian people, their culture, and their national autonomy. He had hard words for Canada and for NATO nations, asking why they have yet to implement a no-fly zone over Ukraine. Or why they have not provided sophisticated anti-air weapons to Ukrainian forces so they could create their own no-fly zone.
“The tragic fact remains that on the ground, and in the skies above Ukraine, they stand utterly alone against the Russian Goliath,” he said.
According to United States lawmakers currently grappling with the question of whether to implement a no-fly zone, the creation of the zone would likely necessitate the involvement of direct conflict between NATO and Russian Federation air forces and would be seen as an act of war by Russia.
Inna Platonova, president of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress of Calgary, called on those attending to provide aid funding through the Canada-Ukraine Foundation.
The UCC-CUF humanitarian aid program has, to date, raised more than $1.62 million and has delivered $550,000 in aid to Ukraine.