Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly says it was unacceptable for a Canadian official to attend a reception hosted by the Russian Embassy and promises nothing like this will happen again.
The statement follows a Globe and Mail report that Yasemin Heinbecker, deputy chief of protocol at the Department of Global Affairs, attended a Russia Day celebration at the Russian Embassy in Ottawa on Friday evening. The holiday commemorates Russia’s constitutional reform at the end of the Soviet era.
Canada and its allies continue to sanction and isolate Russia in response to its invasion of Ukraine, which Moscow calls a “special military operation.”
“This is unacceptable. No Canadian representative should have attended the event held at the Russian Embassy [and] no Canadian representative will attend this kind of event again,” Joly wrote in a tweet on Sunday evening.
She said that Canada continues to support Ukraine.
WATCH | ‘There should have been clear indications’ of Russian reception, says ex-ambassador
Responding to The Globe and Mail, Joly’s department first defended Canada’s presence at the Russian Embassy event.
“This is not a usual situation, but we still maintain a diplomatic relationship with Russia on matters of Canadian interest and Global Affairs Canada has sent a protocol officer to the reception,” said Christelle Chartrand, spokesperson. of the ministry. as said Friday.
The newspaper reported that Chartrand sent a revised statement after the story aired on Sunday in which she apologized on behalf of the government.
In a statement to CBC, a spokesperson for Global Affairs Canada said the decision to send a protocol officer to reception was made by the department and should not have happened.
“No Canadian representative should have attended the event held at the Russian Embassy and no Canadian representative will attend such an event in the future,” the GAC statement read.
“Russian officials will not be invited to Canada Day events hosted by the department.”
Diplomats from other countries were present
Russian Ambassador to Canada Oleg Stepanov said he appreciated Heinbecker’s presence at the event.
“We believe that diplomacy is an instrument of all times and that diplomatic protocol is an important part of maintaining bilateral communications. Diplomacy is about dialogue,” he said in a press release.
“We don’t look at Canada through the lens of confrontation and are prepared to wait patiently when [Prime Minister Justin] Trudeau’s cabinet or the next government come to realize that it is in Canada’s national interest to pursue good neighborly relations with Russia. »
The embassy said Joly was also invited to the reception and diplomats from other countries attended.
Since the start of the war in Ukraine in February, the Canadian government has imposed sanctions on individuals with ties to Russia and sent military supplies, including ammunition, to Ukrainian troops.
Last week, the RCMP revealed that assets and transactions worth more than C$400 million were sanctioned as a result of Moscow’s war on Ukraine.
WATCH | “No Canadian representative will attend this kind of event again,” says Joly:
Interim Conservative Leader Candice Bergen said the Liberal government should do more to isolate Russian President Vladimir Putin’s regime, including expelling Russian diplomats.
“Instead of endorsing the lavish Kremlin-backed celebration at the Russian Embassy, the Liberal government should work with countries like Egypt, Pakistan and those in Africa to prevent Putin’s illegal war from causing a global food crisis that will affect developing countries the most,” she said in a statement.
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Post expires at 3:47am on Saturday June 25th, 2022