TORONTO – Ontario’s elected politicians held a moment of silence in the legislature Monday to remember the victims of the Malaysia Airlines disaster, including the lone Canadian who died.
Andrei Anghel, a 24-year-old medical student from Ajax, east of Toronto, was among the nearly 300 people who were killed last Thursday when flight MH17 was shot down over eastern Ukraine in an area controlled by pro-Russian rebels.
Rookie Liberal Yvan Baker, who asked for the moment of silence, said he hopes leaders across the globe will support efforts to ensure those responsible for the tragedy are held accountable.
“As a parliament, as leaders in this province, we’re extending our sympathies to the families, in particularly to that of Mr. Anghel,” he said.
Many of his constituents in Toronto are calling for the removal of the rebels from Ukraine, said Baker, whose mother was an election observer in the country.
The war raging between the rebels and Ukrainian forces has taken civilian lives as well as soldiers, he said.
“This tragedy just brings it to a whole new level,” Baker said.
But the violence over the past few months has also brought members of the community together, not just out of concern but a desire to help, said Steve Andrusiak, president of the Ontario Provincial Council of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress.
“People have come out of the woodwork and it’s united us in magical ways across the generations, across the immigrations,” he said.
Ukrainian officials say the rocket launcher that shot down the passenger jet was supplied from Russia and operated by Russian personnel.
Pressure has been growing on Russian President Vladimir Putin to rein in the insurgents in Ukraine and allow a full-scale investigation. Russia has denied any involvement in the downing of MH17.
Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird announced harsher sanctions against Russia on Monday.
Baird called on the Russian-backed rebels to withdraw from the area and allow an international team of forensic experts to investigate the crash of the Malaysian airliner.