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Lawmakers in Canada’s House of Commons unanimously adopted a motion on Wednesday acknowledging that Russia is committing acts of genocide against the Ukrainian people.
The declaration is non-binding and does not require the Canadian government to take any action. But Heather McPherson, the MP who proposed it, says she hopes the motion will push the government to do more to hold Russia accountable.
Those steps could include implementing sanctions against oligarchs more quickly and allocating more federal funds to the International Criminal Court for its investigations into possible Russian war crimes in Ukraine, McPherson told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.
“From my perspective as an MP in the House of Commons, this is a tool to urge our government to do more,” she said. “This is a tool to say that the conflict in Ukraine is not over, that the support we have provided has not been enough, and that we must do more for the people of Ukraine.”
McPherson, who serves as the New Democratic Party’s leader on foreign affairs in the House, shared the motion text on social networks
It says that “there is clear and extensive evidence of massive and systematic war crimes and crimes against humanity committed against the people of Ukraine by the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, led by President Vladimir Putin and others within the Russian Parliament.”
The motion goes on to list alleged Russian war crimes, including the deliberate killing of Ukrainian civilians and desecration of corpses, the forcible transfer of Ukrainian children to Russian territory, and widespread cases of bodily harm, mental harm, and rape.
CPAC, the Canadian version of CSPAN, tweeted a video of McPherson reading the motion aloud. The cameras fell silent as the vice president asked if anyone objected and was filled with applause after he said he had passed.
In the House of Commons, MPs unanimously approved a motion to recognize that the Russian Federation is committing acts of genocide against the Ukrainian people. The motion was proposed by Heather McPherson, the NDP’s foreign affairs critic.#cdnpoli pic.twitter.com/z4WC44z9N5
— CPAC (@CPAC_TV) April 27, 2022
The world has seen evidence of alleged Russian atrocities committed in Ukraine, including photographs of civilian bodies dumped in the streets of Bucha after the withdrawal of Russian troops, although Russia has denied committing war crimes.
President Biden described Russia’s actions as “genocide” earlier this month (as did Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau).
Still, terms like “genocide” and “war crimes” carry specific legal definitions that must be tested before an international criminal court. As one expert said morning editionproving genocide in Ukraine may be difficult, but not impossible.
This story originally appeared in the morning edition live blog