Opposition MPs on Friday demanded that top Liberal ministers appear at a special foreign affairs committee meeting next week to explain Canada’s controversial decision to ship repaired parts of a Russian gas pipeline back to Germany.
The Liberals, who face heavy criticism from Ukraine for exempting turbines from Russia sanctions, quickly agreed that Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly and Natural Resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson would answer questions about it. .
Ontario Liberal MP Robert Oliphant said there was “total will” and “no hesitation” from ministers.
The Foreign Affairs Committee voted unanimously to request the presence of Joly and Wilkinson by July 22, subject to their availability and “noting the urgency of the situation”.
LOOK | Fallout continues after turbines come out in Ottawa
The committee will also invite to testify the Ukrainian Canadian Congress and the ambassadors of Ukraine, Germany and the European Union to Canada.
The Tories on the committee also called on Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland to appear and alleged the Liberals were trying to prevent her testimony because she might disagree with the export decision.
Their attempt to add him to the list of witnesses was rejected, but committee members will have more opportunity to add names to the list and the matter could be re-discussed.
Freeland is in Indonesia to attend a meeting of G20 finance ministers and was not immediately available to respond.
The whole affair stems from a government decision last week to exempt six Siemens Energy turbines, which were serviced in Montreal, from the economic sanctions it imposed on Russia for its invasion of Ukraine.
Ukraine’s World Congress is asking the Federal Court to uphold the sanctions regime and halt the expedition, saying in a statement that “we cannot provide a terrorist state with the tools it needs to finance the murder of dozens thousands of innocent people”.
Russian state energy company Gazprom last month cut gas deliveries from its Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline, which serves northeastern Germany, by 60%, citing technical problems with the turbines.
Decision draws support, condemnation
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said this week the decision to return the turbines was made so Canada could support European allies facing energy crises as Russia restricts access to its oil and gas supplies.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz welcomed the move, saying the energy supply allows Germany to support Ukraine with humanitarian, financial and military aid.
And the US State Department issued a statement supporting the decision, saying it would help Europe increase its energy security and resilience and counter “Russia’s efforts to weaponize energy”.
But Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy condemned the decision as “absolutely unacceptable” earlier this week in video and written statements.
“The decision on the exception to the sanctions will be perceived in Moscow exclusively as a manifestation of weakness. This is their logic,” he said. “And now there is no doubt that Russia will try not only to limit as much as possible, but to completely shut off Europe’s gas supply at the most acute moment.”
In her motion to initiate the committee’s study, NDP Foreign Affairs Critic Heather McPherson said she was “appalled” by the government’s decision and said it implied that the Canadian sanctions made “basically no sense” if exemptions could be granted whenever officials were “uncomfortable”. “
Tory MP Garnett Genuis called it a ‘slap in the face to the Ukrainian people’ and said it smacks of ‘the logic of appeasement or compromise with a violent aggressor’.
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