Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says Ukrainian citizens will be at the heart of whatever is done with hundreds of millions of dollars in assets effectively frozen or blocked by the federal government since the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine .
The RCMP said on Thursday that since Russia entered Ukraine on February 24, $123 million in assets held by people on Canada’s sanctions list have been frozen, while transactions of additional value of $289 million have been blocked.
The government’s budget implementation bill, C-19 – which passed final reading in the House of Commons on Thursday – would include executive powers to not only freeze, but also seize and sell assets sanctioned. It would also allow the proceeds to be used as compensation for war victims or for reconstruction projects in Ukraine.
Questions around the invoice persist
But concerns have been raised about whether the bill, which is expected to pass through the Senate, could violate some United Nations articles that specify that countermeasures must be reversible.
“We are still a long way from passing this legislation,” the Prime Minister said on Friday. “Obviously, there are a lot of conversations going on internationally about the liability and overseas assets of Russian oligarchs and others.
“We will continue to make sure we obey the law, but also to move forward on ways to ensure that Russia is held responsible and even accountable for what would be enormous costs and the reconstruction of Ukraine after the invasion. illegal from Russia,” he continued.
When asked who would spend the money, the Prime Minister gave no clear answer, saying Canada was “a long way from that moment.”
It’s a decision that would ultimately rest with Cabinet ministers, but questions also persist over safeguards that would ensure the money is spent responsibly and prevent it from falling into the wrong hands.
Trudeau also did not respond directly whether Canada would provide the full value of what was frozen to reconstruction funds. But whatever the decision, it will have to be made after some level of consultation with Ukrainians, he said.
“As with so many things about the conflict in Ukraine – nothing about Ukraine, without Ukraine,” the prime minister said. “It will be important that the Ukrainians themselves… are at the heart of any reconstruction.”
Trudeau added, “They need to be in full consultation and even control the way forward for Ukraine’s future.”
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Post expires at 8:25pm on Wednesday June 22nd, 2022