Minister Freeland Leads the Way

Chrystia Freeland.

Marco Levytsky, National Affairs Editor.

The Ukrainian Canadian Congress (UCC) has applauded the latest sanctions imposed by Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland on 114 Russian individuals and 15 entities on March 15.

Russia’s continuing aggression against Ukraine, and the illegal imprisonment by Russia of Ukrainian political prisoners are an affront to the values of peace, democracy and human rights that we as Canadians hold dear,” said Alexandra Chyczij, National President of the UCC. “We welcome today’s announcement, and the leadership that Canada has shown in support of Ukraine. The international community must continue to unequivocally oppose and condemn Russia’s deplorable actions, which threaten not only Ukraine’s sovereignty, but the peace and liberty of the European continent.”

These sanctions were announced in coordination with both the United States and the European Union and are issued in response to the Russian Federation’s aggressive actions in the Black Sea and Kerch Strait and its illegal annexation of Crimea.

“Canada and its allies are unwavering in our support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. Russia’s provocations in the Kerch Strait and its illegal invasion and ongoing occupation of Crimea will not go unchecked,” stated Minister Freeland in announcing the sanctions.

“Alongside our international partners, we call on Russia to immediately release the 24 detained Ukrainian servicemen and return the seized vessels. Russia must allow free and unhindered passage through the Kerch Strait and the Sea of Azov,” she added.

Canada’s sanctions impose asset freezes and dealings prohibitions on designated persons, which include both individuals and entities. They prohibit persons in Canada and Canadians abroad from:

  • Dealing in any property, wherever situated, held by or on behalf of a designated person;
  • Entering into or facilitating, directly or indirectly, any transaction related to such a dealing;
  • Providing any financial or related service in respect of such a dealing;
  • Making goods, wherever situated, available to a designated person;
  • Providing any financial or related service to or for the benefit of a designated person.

Since Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014, Canada has sanctioned over 300 individuals and entities, many in coordination with our allies. The latest sanctions bring this total to 435. This puts Canada far ahead of either the EU or the US in total number of sanctions applied. While we acknowledge that quality can be more important than quantity, and certain Russian oligarchs who are on the US and EU lists, but not on ours should be included, Canada’s record is nevertheless very impressive and has allowed us to assumed the mantle of global leadership in this regard.

While much credit for this leadership initiative is due to the previous Conservative government which first responded to Russian aggression, this policy has not only continued, but has strengthened under the current government. And the lion’s share of the credit for this is due to Foreign Affairs Minister Freeland.

Minister Freeland fully understands Canada’s traditional role as a middle power and honest broker in international affairs. This has been the cornerstone of our foreign policy since the end of the Second World War. It is based upon the recognition that Canada does not have the military clout to enforce its will, but has the moral clout to utilize its powers of persuasion.

When it comes to understanding both Canada’s role and responsibilities on the global stage, Minister Freeland has been a master.

As MacDonald Laurier Institute Munk Senior Fellow Marcus Kolga wrote in a December 2018 article: “Chrystia Freeland has put Canadian foreign policy back on track, making Canada a leader on several foreign policy fronts like human rights, security, and working with Canada’s allies to maintain the rule-based order.”

Russian opposition activist and former chess grandmaster and world chess champion, Garry Kasparov, told Kolga that “thanks to Chrystia Freeland, Canada has become a great spokesperson for the free world, which is currently without a real leader.” He continued, saying that he’s “confident that Canada can continue to grow in this role and take up the leadership that’s been forfeited by the US.”

As Minister Freeland has previously succeeded in persuading our allies to coordinate their efforts in making Russian oligarchs pay for their aggression, we have no doubt that she played a very influential role in arranging this latest round of sanctions.

Therefore, this newspaper stands with the UCC in applauding Canada’s latest action against the perpetrators of Russian aggression and stresses that it is crucial that such pressure be steadfastly maintained until the occupation of Crimea is reversed, and until the Russian Federation stops its war of aggression in eastern Ukraine and releases all Ukrainian political prisoners.

We are confident that Canada will continue to play a pivotal role in coordinating the Free World’s response to Russian aggression and that Minister Freeland will continue to exercise her outstanding leadership on both the national and international levels.