Prime Minister Justin Trudeau denounced the attendance of a Canadian official at a Russia Day party at the Russian embassy while Canada is attempting to separate itself from the country due to the war in Ukraine.
“Obviously, it is absolutely unacceptable for any Canadian representative to be at this event,” Trudeau said Tuesday during question period. “It never should have happened, and we denounce it thoroughly.”
Global Affairs’ deputy protocol chief Yasemin Heinbecker attended the event Friday, along with representatives of Egypt, Pakistan and some African nations. The Globe and Mail newspaper first reported the attendance.
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Trudeau’s response came after interim Conservative leader Candice Bergen asked him why the government would send a representative “to their enemy’s house to enjoy champagne and caviar.” Bergen said she hopes Trudeau apologizes to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
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Trudeau said he spoke with Zelenskyy today over the phone about Canada’s support for the country but the issue of the party “did not come up.”
Global Affairs Minister Melanie Joly said Sunday that it was “unacceptable” that Heinbecker attended the event.
“No Canadian representative should have attended the event hosted at the Russian embassy and no Canadian representative will attend this kind of event again,” Joly said in a Twitter post.
Joly has said she did not know the official would attend the event and only found out after media reports.
Canada has sanctioned more than 1,000 individuals and organizations since the invasion of Ukraine began on Feb. 24, and has been a leading global voice in condemning Russia for the war.
— with files from the Canadian Press
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