A House of Commons committee says Canada should deport Russian diplomats engaging in activities not “consistent” with their roles – but whether Ottawa will commit to doing so is up in the air.

The Canadian government has not expelled any Russian diplomats since Moscow’s full-scale war in Ukraine started almost a year ago on February 24, 2022.

Studying the war, the Foreign Affairs and International Development Committee released a report last week detailing its effects and making 14 recommendations to the federal government on how it can continue to strengthen its support for Ukraine.

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Among these was that the government “expel Russian diplomats involved in any activities inconsistent with their official diplomatic status.”

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In March 2022, four EU countries expelled several Russian diplomats accused of espionage; the last time Canada expelled Russian diplomats was in March 2018, in lockstep with Britain over a nerve agent attack.

“There is no definitive position on whether we will accept all recommendations and what not, or on each recommendation specifically, but what I can say is that when it comes to expelling Russian diplomats, our thinking has not changed,” a government source said. talking about the background, told Global News.

“The concept of reciprocity in diplomacy and the fact that what our people in Moscow are doing is really important, that thinking hasn’t really changed.”

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Grantly Franklin, a spokesperson for Global Affairs Canada (GAC), told Global News in an email that it is “important” to keep the Canadian embassy in Moscow.

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“This keeps channels of communication open, enables on-the-ground monitoring of developments to counter Russian disinformation and allows the delivery of consular services to Canadian citizens,” Franklin said.

“This, in turn, requires the Russian embassy to remain open on a reciprocal basis.”

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In April 2022, Russia’s ambassador in Ottawa said that any diplomatic expulsion will be met in kind by expelling Canadian officials in Russia, the Hill Times reported. Earlier that month, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called the diplomatic expulsion a “symbolic gesture” and said Canadian diplomats in Moscow are playing too important a role.

Orest Zakydalsky, senior policy adviser at the Ukrainian Canadian Congress (UCC), told Global News that his organization sees no reason why Russia should still have a diplomatic mission in Canada.

“As far as this recommendation is concerned, this is something that the government should do anyway. Diplomats who are engaged in things that are not part of their diplomatic work should be thrown out regardless of the recommendations of a committee,” he said.

“Their deportation would not be symbolic, but would actually strengthen Canadian security.”

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The government source told Global News that Ottawa is reviewing the recommendations and that the government “will always abide by the Geneva Convention and the rules and expectations set forth by it,” adding that the Russian ambassador has been summoned six times since the full scale. war began.

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“As long as he continues to parrot Russian propaganda, he will continue to be called,” they said.

“On our end, our people in Moscow mean a lot. They are doing critical work, and we want to make sure they remain in a position where they can do that work.”

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In his reportThe Foreign Affairs Committee said GAC officials who testified as part of the study expressed “a warning about cutting off the possibility of … high-level contact, whether it’s with the Russian ambassador here or through our ambassador in Moscow.”

Marta Dyczok, an associate professor of history and political science at Western University, told the committee that Canada can still do more to reduce its “diplomatic ties” with Russia.

“They must keep the embassy and consulates open – diplomatic channels must remain open – but the size of its diplomatic missions does not have to be the same as in peacetime,” Dyczok said during testimony.

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Trudeau said in April that Ottawa was reducing the size of its diplomatic staff in Moscow after President Vladimir Putin’s annexation of Crimea in 2014, and after the 2018 poisoning in Salisbury, England, of a former Russian intelligence officer and his daughter.

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Zakydalsky said the UCC will continue to press Ottawa on this issue.

“We will continue to point out to the government that it is a matter of both safety for Canadians, and … that there should not be Russian diplomats here in Canada encouraging and trying to destroy … our society,” he said.

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