The premier of British Columbia says he supports the federal government’s decision to impose a 35% tariff on Russian and Belarusian exports to Canada.

John Horgan said the Department of Finance is examining the potential implications for the private sector, including major construction projects that rely on Russian steel, to determine what the province can do to protect its economy while ensuring continuation of sanctions.

“We are not concerned, at this point, that there will be significant costs for British Columbians,” he said at a press conference Thursday.

“The only way to change the mind of a brutal dictator is to make him extremely uncomfortable to continue on the same path he is following. Economic sanctions will work if they are universally embraced and it seems, on the one hand unprecedented way, that the international community should mobilize against the intrusion into Ukraine and encourage the Putin regime to back down.

He said British Columbia was also ready to welcome Ukrainian immigrants and refugees, but did not know how many people the federal government would send to the province.

Horgan said Municipal Affairs Minister Nathan Cullen began contacting non-governmental organizations and faith groups that often help refugees settle in communities after federal Immigration Minister Sean Fraser streamlined the process for Ukrainians fleeing Russia’s military onslaught.

Horgan said the province fully supports accelerated immigration and refugee plans, but an extraordinary number of people moved to British Columbia in the past year. He will therefore work to ensure that the province does not take in more people than it can handle.

“We will work together with local agencies to make sure we are doing everything we can to house, protect and care for as many people as possible,” he said.

This story was produced with financial assistance from Facebook and the Canadian Press News Fellowship.

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