FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 13, 2021
Hamilton & Montreal
Joint Statement Against Canada’s Economic Sanctions
The Hamilton Coalition To Stop The War and the Mouvement Québécois pour la Paix today have issued a joint statement in response to the Trudeau government’s official reply to our parliamentary petition e-2630. That reply (copied to the next page) was delivered by Rob Oliphant, Parliamentary-Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs.
Both organizations reject the rationales given by Mr. Oliphant for the maintenance of Canada’s coercive economic measures and firmly believe that, today, the health and economic crises have only deepened in the past year since UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’s appeal to G-20 leaders to drop all their economic sanctions for the duration of the pandemic. Consequently, as we did along with 100 prominent Canadians in an open letter one year ago, we call upon Prime Minister Trudeau immediately to lift all of Canada’s coercive economic measures against some twenty countries of the world – permanently.
Ken Stone of the Hamilton Coalition to Stop The War observed, “Canada’s economic sanctions are like a knee upon the necks of the people of the some of the poorest countries of the world. In view of the health and economic crises caused by the pandemic, Justin Trudeau should lift all of Canada’s coercive economic measures now and let those people breathe.”
Pierre Jasmin of the Mouvement Québécois pour la Paix noted, “UN Secretary-General Guterres was clear in pointing out that ‘we are only as strong as the weakest health system in our interconnected world.’” I call on Justin Trudeau to let Canada be an example to the world in helping the poorest countries of the world defeat the pandemic by lifting all of Canada’s economic sanctions now.”
Response by the Minister of Foreign Affairs to petition e-2630
Signed by (Minister or Parliamentary Secretary): Rob Oliphant
Sanctions are an important component of Canada’s principled and pragmatic approach to foreign policy, which also includes dialogue, capacity building, advocacy, multilateral engagement, and other diplomatic actions. The decision to impose sanctions is not one that Canada takes lightly. They are a coercive measure of last resort designed to foster change and end impunity; a tool to be applied judiciously. When Canada chooses to impose sanctions, it does so to send a strong and clear message that it will not stand by in the face of gross human rights violations, significant corruption, or behaviour that flouts the rule of law and threatens global peace and security, and will hold those who commit such actions to account.
In designing and implementing sanctions, the Government of Canada applies a targeted approach and rigorous analysis to minimize adverse consequences for the civilian population, including vulnerable groups, or for legitimate business, humanitarian, or other activities. Therefore, the vast majority of Canada’s autonomous sanctions measures apply to specific individuals or entities deemed culpable for human rights violations or acts of significant corruption, and would not impede a sanctioned country’s ability to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. These types of sanctions often include measures such as embargoes on arms and related material, as well as dealings bans (effective asset freezes) on specific individuals or entities. In many cases, listed individuals are also being deemed inadmissible to Canada.
This approach is consistent with the current global reality where the priority is to ensure sanctions regimes do not present an unintended barrier that would hinder the humanitarian response to the pandemic. In addition, the Government of Canada also conducts regular reviews of its existing sanctions regimes to ensure that any measures taken remain relevant and serve the purpose for which they were originally implemented. Canada continues to implement legislated exceptions for certain activities such as the delivery of food, medicine and medical supplies, to limit the potentially adverse effects on vulnerable populations, such as women and girls.
In an effort to respond to the needs of organizations operating in countries targeted by Canada’s sanctions regime during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government of Canada has taken steps to accelerate the review of any application for permits and certificates where applicants have identified a link to the global health crisis.
With respect to UN sanctions, Canada has an international legal obligation to implement decisions to impose sanctions taken by the UN Security Council under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations. Canada implements these decisions through regulations under the United Nations Act and could likewise implement Security Council decisions taken under Chapter VII adopted to address impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.