Russia travel ban 'laughable,' says Mayor Jim Watson

·2 min read
Watson, right, poses with Rideau-Vanier Coun. Mathieu Fleury, left, and Andrii Bukvych, the chargé d’affaires at the Ukrainian Embassy in Canada, centre, during last month's unveiling of 'Free-Libre Ukraine' signs outside the Russian Embassy. (Rosalie Sinclair/Radio-Canada - image credit)
Watson, right, poses with Rideau-Vanier Coun. Mathieu Fleury, left, and Andrii Bukvych, the chargé d’affaires at the Ukrainian Embassy in Canada, centre, during last month's unveiling of 'Free-Libre Ukraine' signs outside the Russian Embassy. (Rosalie Sinclair/Radio-Canada - image credit)

The mayor of Canada's capital says it's "laughable" that his opposition to the Ukraine war has landed him on a list prohibiting him from travelling to Russia.

On Thursday, Mayor Jim Watson joined 60 other Canadians on what the Russian Foreign Ministry is calling a "stop list," effectively banning them from entering the country for the foreseeable future.

According to the ministry, they've all been accused of being "involved in the development, substantiation and implementation of the Russophobic course of the ruling regime in Canada."

The list includes several premiers — including Ontario Premier Doug Ford — as well as senior intelligence and military officials and a handful of Canadian journalists.

Watson is one of only two mayors on the list, along with Toronto Mayor John Tory.

"On the one side, it's sort of laughable. I had no plans to go to Moscow or any part of Russia and wouldn't do so because I don't want to give them any element of support," Watson told CBC after the ban was unveiled.

"But it's a serious issue. They're doing this because, quite frankly, I think they're losing the public relations war as a result of their illegal occupation of parts of Ukraine."

Rosalie Sinclair/Radio-Canada
Rosalie Sinclair/Radio-Canada

Signs, flags may have irked higher-ups

The ban comes as the Canadian government has announced its own sanctions targeting individuals with ties to the Russian government — including Putin's daughters — along with plans to send heavy artillery to Ukraine.

Watson said he had "no idea" for the specific reason he was singled out, although he speculated the city's decision to install bilingual "Free-Libre Ukraine" signs outside Russia's Charlotte Street embassy may have irked their ambassador and made its way back to Moscow.

He noted he also wrote to other mayors in G7 countries, encouraging them to raise Ukraine's flag at their city halls.

"It's one of these things where you have a bit of a laugh at it because you can't take it seriously," Watson said.

"But at the same time, the situation in Ukraine is very serious, and we need to continue to show our support. And I'll continue to put signs up to antagonize the Russians, because quite frankly, they're in the wrong."

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