The Liberal government is under heavy criticism from Ukraine for exempting six Siemens Energy turbines, repaired in Montreal, from the economic sanctions it imposed on Russia following its invasion of Ukraine.
In response to the committee’s request, the government did not hesitate to confirm that Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly and Natural Resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson would be happy to answer questions on this matter.
Ontario Liberal MP Robert Oliphant says there is a
total will and
no hesitation from the ministers to answer the committee’s questions and explain this decision.
The Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development voted unanimously in favor of summoning Ministers Joly and Wilkinson to appear no later than July 22, subject to their availability.
This same committee also wishes to hear from representatives of the Congress of Ukrainian Canadians as well as the ambassadors of Ukraine, Germany and the European Union.
Conservative elected officials who sit on this committee also demanded the presence of Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland and alleged that the Liberals were trying to prevent her from testifying because she would disagree with this decision.
This attempt by elected Conservatives to add Ms. Freeland’s name to the list of witnesses called was rejected by a majority. However, committee members will have other opportunities to add names to the list of witnesses.
Ms Freeland is in Indonesia for a meeting of G20 finance ministers and was not available to comment on the news at this time.
This whole affair stems from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s decision to allow the delivery of the turbines in order, he argued, to support Canada’s European allies who are facing energy crises as Russia restricts access to its oil and gas supply.
Last month, Russian state energy company Gazprom cut gas deliveries by 60% from its Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline, which connects northeastern Germany, citing technical problems with the turbines.
Recently, Russian gas accounted for about 35% of Germany’s total supply.
A dangerous precedent, according to Ukraine
For its part, the Ukrainian government says Canada’s decision sets a dangerous precedent at a time when the international community must show determination and firmness in the face of Russian threats and its invasion of Ukraine.
Moreover, the Ukrainian World Congress filed a notice of motion in Federal Court on Tuesday for a review of Ottawa’s decision, arguing that Gazprom’s request for its turbines constitutes a dishonest scheme.
We cannot provide a terrorist state with the tools it needs to fund the murder of tens of thousands of innocent peopleargues the Ukrainian World Congress.
In contrast, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz welcomed the move, saying his country’s energy supply allows it to continue supporting Ukraine with humanitarian, financial and military aid.
In the United States, the State Department also supported the Canadian decision, saying that it will strengthen Europe’s energy security and resilience in addition to countering Russia’s efforts to use its energy resources as of a weapon.
slap in the face of the Ukrainian people
Despite everything, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky condemned Canada’s choice, calling it
In her motion to launch the study of this issue in committee, NDP MP and Foreign Affairs Critic Heather McPherson says she was
dismayed by the decision of the government which, according to it, makes the sanctions
Fellow Conservative Garnett Genuis called the move a
slap in the face of the Ukrainian people saying that he believes that it defies logic and that it constitutes a gesture of conciliation and compromise towards a violent aggressor.
The interpretation of the Germans
A spokesperson for the German embassy in Ottawa told The Canadian Press that sanctions imposed by his country and the European Union do not specifically cover turbines.
According to the German interpretation, if the Canadian text of law had been written in the same way as in Germany, no exemption would have been necessary for the shipment of the turbines.
Each state writes its sanctions differently and the Canadian text was more precise than that of other states, explains researcher Rachel Ziemba, of the Center for a New American Security.
Neither Gazprom nor the Nord Stream 1 pipeline are subject to blanket sanctions from Canada, she said. This position is consistent with Germany’s interpretation that Canadian sanctions would not apply to this shipment of parts had they not been drafted in such detail.
The delivery of equipment parts to Russia for a new energy project would have been much more complex, however, recognizes the expert.
Still, even in a scenario where the shipment is exempt from sanctions, any deal involving Russia or Russian companies is subject to intense political debate, Ziemba noted.