Canadians protest Crimea referendum, express solidarity with Ukraine
OTTAWA - As residents in Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula voted Sunday in their referendum on whether to split off and join Russia, protesters in at least two Canadian cities joined the international condemnation against the ballot.
About 100 protesters staged a mock referendum outside the heavily-guarded Russian embassy in Ottawa.
They were joined by hundreds in downtown Toronto who braved frigid temperatures to march against what they called an illegitimate ballot.
Some protesters applauded Prime Minister Stephen Harper's decision to travel to Ukraine next Friday to show support for the temporary government in the face of Russian aggression in the strategic Black Sea region.
The committee managing the referendum says 95 per cent of voters support joining Russia with half the ballots counted as of Sunday evening.
Canada and its allies say Sunday's snap referendum is illegal and they will not recognize its result.
It comes two weeks after Russian-back forces took control of Crimea, which has as large Russian population.
Many of its residents have said they fear the new Ukrainian government that is now in place after their Russian-backed President Viktor Yanukovych fled to Russia.