I call the meeting to order.
I'm Marty Morantz. I am the vice-chair of the committee and I'm chairing the meeting today, along with my colleague Mr. Bergeron, who is the vice-chair. We will be passing the chair to each other over the course of the meeting, so that we can each take our individual rounds.
Welcome to meeting number 23 of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development. Pursuant to the motion adopted on July 15, the committee is meeting for its study of the export of Russian Gazprom turbines.
As always, interpretation is available through the globe icon at the bottom of your screen.
I would like to take this opportunity to remind all participants in this meeting that screenshots or taking photos of your screen is not permitted.
Before speaking, please wait until I recognize you by name. When speaking, please speak slowly and clearly. When you are not speaking, your mike should be on mute. I will remind you that all comments by members and witnesses should be addressed through the chair.
I would now like to welcome our first panel of witnesses before the committee and thank them for agreeing to take the time to share their views with us. We have two ministers with us, the Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Foreign Affairs, and the Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Natural Resources.
Minister Joly, please make your opening statement. You have five minutes.
It's good to see all of you. I hope you're having a good summer.
Colleagues, of course I'm pleased to be with you today with my colleague and friend Minister Wilkinson. We're here to discuss the great consequences of Putin's war of choice in Ukraine, the roles Canada can play to secure Europe's energy security and, of course, how we can support our allies in implementing a green transition.
Yesterday, I hosted my German counterpart, Minister Baerbock, and we discussed these important issues.
Five months ago, the Russian president ordered his troops to invade Ukraine, a sovereign country.
His is an attack on freedom, on democracy and on the rights of Ukrainians to determine their own future. It is a flagrant disregard for international law and the UN charter, and an attack against the foundations of the rules-based international order.
We have worked with our allies and partners to impose severe costs on President Putin and his regime. This has included 1,600 sanctions on individuals and entities who support, fund and enable President Putin's war regime. These include President Putin himself, his daughters, members of his cabinet and his oligarchs, and key Russian industries, including high tech, chemicals, luxury goods and manufacturing. As a result, Canada has the strongest sanctions regime in the G7 when it comes to Ukraine.
Evidence is showing that international sanctions are having a significant impact on the Russian state. A recent study from Yale University painted a picture of a deeply crippled economy. Russian imports have largely collapsed. Russia faces challenges securing crucial inputs, leading to widespread supply shortages. Russian domestic production has come to a complete standstill, with no capacity to replace lost businesses, products and talent. As a result of the business retreat, Russia has lost companies representing nearly 40% of its GDP.
Of course, Canada's support for Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity is unequivocal, and Canada has provided significant assistance to Ukrainians to help them defend themselves against Russia's invasion.
This morning, our government announced the resumption of Operation Unifier. We also announced $620 million in military assistance, nearly half a billion dollars in humanitarian support and over $1.5 billion in loans to help Ukraine's economy.
We've also announced $50 million for demining initiatives and over $9 million for initiatives to counter sexual violence.
The way that allies stood united in their support for Ukraine came as a great surprise to President Putin. Allies have isolated Russia politically, economically and diplomatically. Whether through the United Nations or the G20, we are hindering Russia's ability to spread disinformation freely.
We saw through Russia's lies and false pretenses for their invasion, and we still do today. President Putin is working to shift blame as he's weaponizing food. Now he's doing the same with energy.
We know that President Putin seeks to further destabilize Europe and sow division among the alliance. To this end, Russia has weaponized energy by cutting the flows of gas to Europe. Putin hoped to leverage Canada's role in the maintenance of Nord Stream 1 turbines to do just that.
We know that Europe is facing an energy crisis. Europeans—Germans—are facing shortages impacting households and industries. Our allies are worried about the situation as they stock up for the winter. Knowing that turbines were being repaired in Canada, the German Chancellor reached out to us, directly pleading for us to call Putin's bluff.
This was a very difficult decision for everyone in this government. It is one that was not taken lightly or without trying to find an alternative. Minister Wilkinson and I engaged directly with the Ukrainians and Germans, and encouraged discussion between them.
The decision was taken to grant a permit that allowed for the maintenance of Nord Stream 1 turbines and their return to Germany. With this permit, Siemens Canada may lead this work as scheduled on six specific turbines. It is time-limited to a maximum of two years.
With the issue of turbine maintenance taken off the table, Putin has nothing left to hide behind. As the flow of gas slows down, the world now knows with certainty that it was Putin's decision, and his alone.
Russia has shown the world that it cannot be relied upon as an economic partner. The Europeans no longer want to be dependent on Russia. They also understand the importance of fast-tracking the green transition, and as a solid ally, Canada needs to answer the call.
We are working closely with Germany and partners in Europe to find solutions to the energy crisis Europe is currently facing. That said, we need to stick to our targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. My colleague Jonathan Wilkinson, the Minister of Natural Resources, will have a lot more to say on that.
In closing, I want to reiterate Canada's unwavering support for Ukraine. We will continue to provide the Ukrainians with the help they need to defend themselves against Russia's invasion.
Now, I will turn the floor over to my friend and fellow minister, Jonathan Wilkinson.
Thank you very much, Chair.
I welcome this opportunity to discuss Putin's failed attempt to use turbine engines to divide the alliance opposing his unjustifiable invasion of Ukraine. The turbine matter, as Minister Joly pointed out, was a difficult and a complex decision.
The facts are well established. In June, Siemens Canada applied to Global Affairs Canada with an urgent request to continue scheduled services and maintenance of Russian A65 turbine engines at its facility in Montreal, the only facility in the world capable of providing these services.
Germany and the European Union expressed, in the strongest possible terms, their desire to see Canada return the turbines.
They saw that Putin could use the turbines as an excuse for shutting down gas flows to Europe and that the blame for this would be placed on Canada and on western Europe. European countries were very clear that should the turbine not be returned, it would become significantly more challenging to maintain domestic support for Ukraine, threatening a split in the alliance. Ukraine, on the other hand, urged Canada not to return the turbines, concerned that it would signal to Putin and the world a weakening in western resolve to maintain economic sanctions against Russia.
The trap that Putin was trying to set by weaponizing the Nord Stream pipeline was obvious. Don't return the turbine, such that Canada and the west are likely to be blamed for reducing the gas flow to Europe and risk dividing the alliance, or return the turbine and risk a perceived weakening in the alliance's resolve regarding sanctions.
Let me say this very plainly to this committee today: Canada will never aid Putin in dividing the alliance that supports Ukraine. We and our allies remain united in steadfast support of the people of Ukraine, and we will not weaken our resolve in imposing punishing sanctions on the Russian regime.
During consideration of these issues, I spoke multiple times with my counterparts in Ukraine, Germany and the EU. Our conversations included consideration of potential alternatives for supplying Europe with gas.
Ultimately, our government made the decision to allow the return of the turbine to Germany. Let me underline why.
First, returning the turbine eliminated Putin's excuse for holding Europe hostage to gas supplies. The German Chancellor just a few days ago stated that, thanks to Canada “we were able to call Putin’s bluff....With the turbine ready to be delivered, it is up to Russia to resume their contractual obligations.” He went on to say that the decision to deliver the turbine was “a strong sign of support for Germany and for Europe and of maintaining solidarity amongst close allies in order to sustain long-term support for Ukraine.”
Second, the intention of our sanctions is and has been to punish Putin. It is not to jeopardize Europe's economic stability and potentially weaken the alliance. The intent of these sanctions was never to punish our allies in Europe.
Finally, concurrent with the turbine decision, to eliminate any question of Canada's resolve, Canada upped the ante and imposed additional sanctions on Russia. Canada's course of action has been publicly supported by the U.S., Germany and the European Union.
As we all know, the Ukrainian government did not agree with our decision. I certainly discussed these issues directly with Minister Galushenko prior to a decision being made.
However, at the end of the day, our decision avoided Putin's trap: we have strengthened the alliance, supporting Ukraine rather than weakening it, and we have sent a clear signal to the world that we are strengthening our resolve regarding sanctions against the Putin regime.
It is also important to note that Putin's weaponization of energy supply is precisely why the European Union is focused on displacing Russian gas through securing other sources, through conservation, and through accelerating the energy transition towards renewables and hydrogen. The era of Europe depending on cheap Russian oil and gas is over, and countries of the European Union will be looking to Canada and other friendly countries to assist with the supply of energy. In this regard, Canada has indicated that it will boost its exports of oil and gas by 300,000 barrels and barrel equivalents by the end of this year.
Canada is also actively engaged with both the EU and Germany on the potential for exports of hydrogen, liquefied natural gas, or LNG, and critical minerals.
The decision taken by Canada on the turbine reflects that we remain committed to actively supporting Ukraine, working to maintain and strengthen the unity of the alliance against Russia, and working to assist our allies with energy requirements over the short and medium term.
I thank you for inviting me to be with you today, and I certainly look forward to the discussion to come.
Minister Joly, I think one of the difficulties we have here is that the European Union, along with the NATO alliance, is providing billions of dollars in cash, weapons and munitions to Ukraine to defend themselves. At the same time, it is paying hundreds of billions of dollars to Russia, which they are using in turn to fund their war effort. Canada, by returning this turbine, becomes complicit in a situation where we're aiding the European Union and essentially funding both sides of this war. Canada should never, ever be in a position like that.
The talking points I've been hearing over the last couple of days from you and Minister Wilkinson are that, well, now we're calling Putin's bluff. But that wasn't what you said in early July when you made the decision. There was no talk about calling a bluff or playing a game with Mr. Putin. No. What you said was that returning the turbine was integral to Germany's economy and its citizens, as the country is currently heavily dependent on Russia energy. That was what you said. You didn't tell the Canadian people that you did it to call anyone's bluff until I think yesterday, when I read your comments in the Globe.
So it's just not fair at all to say that this is about calling Mr. Putin's bluff. In fact, it stretches credulity, in my mind, to say that your conversations with the Germans back in early July or June, whenever you were meeting, were about calling Mr. Putin's bluff. They were about encouraging domestic supply. The Ukrainian Canadian Congress has said that your rationale also makes no sense. We'll hear from them later. It's been known for years that Mr. Putin uses energy as a foreign policy tool to punish enemies. It was entirely predictable that Russia would continue to use energy as a weapon after Canada acquiesced to Russian blackmail, essentially.
The reality is that this was a terrible decision that puts Canada in a terrible spot. It doesn't help Germany, and it makes Canada look weak in the eyes of the Russians. Isn't that right, Minister?
It has now been nearly six months since the beginning of the brutal war begun by Russia against Ukraine. I want to begin by reiterating the unwavering support of our government for the Ukrainian people in their fight for freedom, and how important the work of this committee is, not only for our study on Ukraine, but of course for the present study as well.
I'd like to thank the ministers for appearing before the committee.
Ministers, you would agree that Canada has played a leadership role in rallying our allies around the world to put in place one of the most robust sanctions regimes ever against Russia. I believe we need to continue to strengthen those sanctions, as we did just this week on Tuesday, and continue to act in this leadership role.
That of course makes it all the more difficult to be discussing the decision today, a decision of a few weeks ago to send the Siemens turbine from Montreal to Germany at Germany's request. Fundamentally, our sanctions are only as strong as our unity and solidarity amongst allies.
Ministers, what were you hearing at the time? Reports that I have read are to the effect that Germany was making this difficult decision because if it did not get the turbine, then it wouldn't have any gas and, in the German foreign minister's words, “we won’t be able to provide any support for Ukraine at all, because we’ll be busy with popular uprisings”.
I think this makes it clear, to me and to Canadians who are listening, how consequential this decision really was to maintaining the solidarity of the allies against Russia and maintaining a strong sanctions regime.
I understand, Minister Wilkinson, that you were in regular talks with the foreign minister of Germany on this issue at that time, so I'll begin by directing my question to you.
The information that you were getting from Germany at the time, was it concerning to the point that it may have risked the solidarity and the unity of the allied group that we had worked so hard to help pull together?
I'll give a brief answer to your previous question.
While Minister Wilkinson was in talks with Mr. Habeck, Germany's minister of economic affairs, energy and climate protection, I was in contact with the German foreign affairs minister, as well as my foreign affairs counterparts in the EU and the U.S.
That's how we operated. We were in unanimous agreement on the approach, in other words, not giving President Putin any excuse or justification. As for the idea that Russia was using energy to blackmail Europe, we wanted to devise a unified approach with our allies, and that's what we did.
In response to your other question, as foreign affairs minister, I have a moral obligation to ensure the safety of locally hired staff and Canadian diplomats abroad. Thank you for asking me about this. I want to reiterate before the committee that the Government of Canada was never informed that Canadian diplomats and locally hired staff in Kyiv could be in danger because their names appeared on a list. I think it's imperative to make that absolutely clear, because we are talking about the lives of people we work with, and I take decisions like these extremely seriously.
First of all, I want to reiterate the fact that I still believe that the decision the Government of Canada made was not an easy one, and I said that when we met to request this study. It is much too easy to just condemn the Canadian government for this decision, despite how unfortunate and potentially harmful it may seem to many, the Bloc Québécois included. I imagine the Canadian government was in an extremely difficult position, and that's what the ministers have told us. This was an incredibly difficult decision to make—I don't deny that.
I would like to thank the ministers for being here today and answering our questions.
It is most unfortunate that Canada found itself in this situation. I realize that the only person literally laughing it up when this occurred was Vladimir Putin, back in the Kremlin. Everyone obviously recognizes that it would have been better not to wind up in a situation like this.
Nonetheless, it is what it is. I don't want to come across as a purveyor of paranoia, but I think it's important to point out that Russia will most definitely be paying close attention to what we are doing here today.
Any outward display of disagreement, whether between parties in the House of Commons or allies, would be very unfortunate, indeed. The most important thing is, and remains, unity against Russia. With that in mind, when the Government of Canada announced that it was granting the permit to export the turbines to Europe, two of the things we called for were tougher sanctions against Russia and more assistance to Ukraine on Canada and Germany's part.
Are those things Canada is seriously considering?
Thank you for your question, Mr. Bergeron.
There is no doubt that our objective is—and will remain—a stricter sanctions regime. As you saw this week, we announced more than 40 new sanctions against individuals involved in the atrocities committed in Bucha.
More sanctions will be announced soon. We will keep introducing sanctions every week or two, just as we have done since the invasion began. To date, we have imposed 1,600 sanctions.
We are always very keen to work with the opposition parties. As you know, I had a conversation with you this morning, as well as with Ms. McPherson and Mr. Chong, to see how we could work together to strengthen the sanctions regime. After all, as you pointed out, we are all united in our concern for Ukraine.
We must show tremendous unity on this issue because Russia is keeping a very close eye on everything having to do with Ukraine, especially in Canada.
Thank you very much to both of the ministers for being with us today and for answering some of my questions prior to this meeting. I appreciate your time.
Like my colleague from the Bloc, I appreciate that this would have been a very difficult decision for you to make.
I want to start today by asking some questions about the turbines and the sanctions regime writ large.
As much as we've heard from Minister Joly that we have 1,600 sanctions in place, I think Canadians are mostly concerned about whether our sanctions are working. I say this because the sanctions don't matter—it doesn't matter how many sanctions there are or who's being sanctioned—if Canada can choose to waive those sanctions or if those sanctions aren't being enforced. If the sanction regime isn't working, it doesn't matter how many sanctions we have or what we're sanctioning if we're not following through on them.
All of us here want to do everything we can for the Ukrainian people. This has been one of those moments in time when I have seen members from all parties work so hard to make sure that Ukrainians understand that Canada and Canadian parliamentarians want to support them.
To start, Minister Joly, the thing that keeps popping into my mind is that this whole decision was based on the idea that there is any trust or belief that Putin would, in fact, continue to provide gas to Germany. We have seen him weaponize energy already and we have seen him weaponize food. There are 40 million people around the world who are at risk of starvation because of Putin.
He lies. We know Putin lies. We know he is not going to act in good faith. We know he is not going to follow the rules.
Why call the bluff, as you say, when realistically, he's already told us and the world what he intends to do. We already knew the bluff was there. What we've done is weaken our sanction regime and weaken Canada's stance standing with Ukraine, and yet we haven't helped to get gas to Germany.
My question to you is very straightforward. Will you cancel the waiver for the other turbines immediately?
Thank you for the question, Randeep.
Ukrainian officials did propose an alternative route for pipelines running through Ukraine itself. We reviewed that option by the Ukrainian government with technical experts from the International Energy Agency. We also discussed it with the European Union and Germany. The issue was complex. It involved the consideration of a number of technical issues.
The bottom line is that the flows that could be expected to move to Germany through the pipelines that run from Russia via Ukraine would be significantly lower than what Nord Stream, when operating at or close to full capacity, can move, and in fact significantly less than what flowed through Nord Stream in 2021.
In addition to the technical limitations, there were two other difficulties. One was that you would have to believe that Russia would be willing to flow significant incremental gas flows through Ukraine. Given that Russia has already reduced flows via Ukraine, and it stated that its view is that the technical capacity of the pipeline is actually only a third of what the Ukrainians believe it is, the likelihood of Russia doing this is not high.
Also, for Germany and other European countries, let's be clear: They currently rely on gas from Russia. The idea of essentially enabling the shutdown of Nord Steam 1 and relying completely on pipelines that run through what is presently a war zone would come with enormous risks for their economies and their citizens.
So yes, we looked at it, and at the end of the day, we deemed, and the International Energy Agency deemed, that it was not viable.
No. Six turbines are used for the Nord Stream 1 pipeline, and some replacement turbines are, of course, used when there are problems or to service a turbine.
The turbines currently used on this pipeline are from Siemens, and a maintenance contract has been established with Gazprom.
When we discussed this concern, we wanted to—
We wanted to remove the excuse that Putin had for why he was looking to essentially reduce gas loads, which was that he did not have access, in his view, to the turbines.
At the end of the day, if we returned the turbine and gas loads returned to higher levels, that would be a very good outcome. At the end of the day, if we returned the turbines and that did not affect gas loads, it essentially would be calling Putin's bluff. He cannot blame Canada and he cannot blame western Europe for the fact that there are no gas loads there. That maintains the solidarity of the alliance, and that was the context in which we made the decision.
It's great to see you, Marty, and great to see my colleagues today.
It's ironic that the Conservatives would bring up the issue and talk about division on a day when Canada announced that it would be sending 225 of our Canadian Armed Forces members over to Europe to help train the Ukrainian soldiers to fight Putin's unjust, unwarranted, unprovoked war against the Ukrainian people. We will always stand with the Ukrainian people shoulder to shoulder and side by side as we continue this journey together. It's going to be a long one.
I use the word “long” specifically because I do wish to talk about.... On July 16, 2022, Josep Borrell put out a blog. He is the high representative of the EU for foreign affairs and security policy. In his blog, he commented about the need for strategic patience—that is, the need for Europe to transition away from Russian energy dependence, whether it's oil and gas and even, to a certain extent, coal, and to transition to alternative suppliers, including many countries in Africa, the Middle East, including Kazakhstan as well, for some energy consumers, including Italy and Germany, and also for Canada to play a role in that obviously green transition.
I do wish to ask Minister Wilkinson first, how is Canada—I don't want to say “positioning itself”, because it has been doing so for many years—specifically aiding Europe on the LNG front in its transition to more secure, democratically oriented suppliers of energy and also to the transition to green? I'll then have a follow-up question for Minister Joly, please.
Thank you, Mr. Sorbara.
Let me start by saying that Europe is very focused essentially on moving away from Russian oil and gas. They've set a target that, by the end of this year, they will have found ways to move away from oil. Ideally, Germany has said that by the end of 2024, or thereabouts, they will be off Russian gas. Of course, they've made progress along the way.
Canada is certainly working with Germany and the European Union to be a part of helping them to do that, part of which is the expansion of oil and gas production that we are working on right now with the sector. We are on track with respect to the additional 300,000 barrels a day, which will help with increasing supply around the world.
As you know, we also have two LNG facilities in western Canada, one that is under construction and one that has been approved. Apparently construction will start next year, which will provide additional supplies into the market, which again will help with respect to displacing Russian gas.
We're looking at a number of potential sites in eastern Canada that could meet the window. Let's be clear: It has to be something that can be done within the next three or four years, or it will be outside the window of what will help Europe this way.
We're also working with Europe on other transitional elements of it, which is hydrogen. There is enormous work going on in Newfoundland and Labrador, for example, on hydrogen that will be used to displace gas and eventually will displace gas entirely as they work towards the 2045 net-zero commitment that Germany has.
Canada is intimately engaged. As you know, the German Chancellor is visiting us later this month, and the head of the European Union is coming a month after that to have exactly these conversations.
I think there is a reckoning on the part of the German government that for too long they relied on cheap gas and that the conditions have completely changed and that we need to do more “friend-shoring” and work more amongst allies when it comes to energy and to critical minerals. That's why there is a lot of openness on the part of Germany to invest in Canada, to do so in a way also that is in line with our climate agenda. That is why it is, yes, about liquefied natural gas, as mentioned by Jonathan, and also a lot about hydrogen, and the type of hydrogen, so green hydrogen.
I think while Germany is looking at dealing with its own energy security issues right now, it is also looking at doing the green transition more quickly than expected.
At the same time, what is happening in Europe is that there is now a clear solidarity approach when it comes to dealing with Russian gas. All 26 members will be there to support a country should it have an energy capacity issue.
We are also working with the Americans to find solutions. The question of energy security has never been so central to our foreign policy. That's why Jonathan and I talk to each other pretty much every day.
Of course, we've had many conversations with the Ukrainian government, and there is a very open channel of communication.
I speak to the chief of staff to President Zelenskyy, Andriy Yermak, very often. I also speak with my counterpart, Dmytro Kuleba, the foreign affairs minister. As you also saw, the Prime Minister has had many conversations with President Zelenskyy.
Of course, this was a very difficult decision. Some of you have heard that, and I've said it many times. I truly feel it and believe it because Jonathan and I spent spent a lot of time on this issue.
That being said, we announced something very important today, which is the resumption of Operation Unifier with 225 CAF members going to train Ukrainians as they're fighting a very existential war.
We will continue to have strong sanctions and to make sure that we send heavy artillery. We also want to be there with humanitarian aid and to provide the right support to Ukrainians in these difficult times.
First of all, I would like to point out to my colleagues that interrupting each other and overlapping times gives the interpreters a lot of trouble. So I would urge my colleagues not to do that for the rest of the meeting.
Mr. Wilkinson, when you answered my question about the different types of turbines that could operate in the Nord Stream 1 pipeline, you ended by talking about the unit.
However, retired General Rick Hillier warned that this decision could weaken the western sanctions regime, and even the common front.
Hungary is already saying that sanctions are counterproductive. The country, which is stands to be rewarded with increased deliveries of natural gas, has also opposed the European plan to reduce gas consumption.
On the one hand, isn't this a first breach in the common front of western nations?
On the other hand, I would like you to go back to the Ukrainian proposal, which would have had the advantage of ensuring the supply of gas and oil for Ukraine while at the same time making it possible, if there had been a common front of all European countries, to force Vladimir Putin to decide whether he would continue to supply Europe or cut it off completely.
Members of the committee, I would like to thank you for the opportunity of addressing you on the 162nd day of the war in Ukraine.
Every morning since February 24, I have been checking my phone and giving silent thanks that none of my friends or family were killed overnight. After I check my phone, I ask myself, “What am I going to do today to end Russia's war against Ukraine?” Today what I am doing is testifying before you.
On July 28, Russian social media channels posted a video of a Russian soldier castrating a Ukrainian POW. The next day, Russian occupation forces in Olenivka murdered over 50 Ukrainian POWs. A week before that, the Russians bombed the port of Odessa from which grain was to be exported, and the week before that, the Russians bombed a shopping centre in Vinnytsia, and before that, Kremenchuk, Kharkiv and Mariupol. Evidence of mass rape of civilians—women, girls and boys—has been collected and documented.
In March, after the Russians retreated, mass graves of civilians were found in Bucha. I visited Bucha in June, and what I saw, I assure you, I will never forget.
I could go on, but suffice to say that we've all had a front seat view in our living rooms where we've witnessed the horror of what Russia is doing in Ukraine.
Since February 24, Russia has earned over a hundred billion euros in revenue from fossil fuels, and 60% of that came from the EU. This is untenable. This is the financing of genocide.
Today I ask you, members of the committee, the same question that I ask myself: What will you do today to end Russia's war against Ukraine?
The Ukrainian Canadian Congress asks that you do the following: call on the Government of Canada to revoke the permit that allows the ongoing servicing of turbines that enable Russia's terrorist war machine to function and to restore full sanctions against Gazprom.
Why do we suggest that? It's because it's absolutely clear that Russia contrived the Nord Stream 1 debacle to test the resolve of Germany, Canada and our allies on sanctions. We have failed that test. Germany and Canada did not understand what the test was. It's about sanctions, the unity on sanctions, not just on Nord Stream 1 but on the ultimate prize, Nord Stream 2. Putin has not given up on that.
When Chancellor Scholz says that he called a bluff, he called the wrong bluff. Nonetheless, he's received a response, and now the choice is clear: It's time to restore those sanctions.
As you know, the UCC opposed and continues to oppose the waiver of sanctions on Gazprom and, indeed, the waiver of any sanctions as they relate to Russia and its genocidal war in Ukraine. It's been the long-standing position of the UCC that seeking to accommodate or placate Russia only emboldens them. The Russian regime responds only to strength. We know this because of events in the past and by Russia's war against Ukraine in the present, and it will be borne out in the future as well unless we collectively put an end to this.
Mr. Sorbara, that journey can't be long, because too many Ukrainians are dying every day.
I submit to you that there is no reasonable justification for the continuation of the waiver, and there was none when the decision was first taken.
As you review the testimony before you today, I ask you to consider two things. Did the Government of Canada do everything possible to avoid lifting those sanctions? Did they leave any stone unturned before capitulating to what everyone knows was blackmail? Secondly, is there an ongoing justification to continue with the waiver?
I believe there were other options that Canada and Germany could have pursued, but it appears that they chose not to pursue them. First, we've already heard mention of the alternative pipelines through Ukraine and Poland. Now, that would have been a bluff worth calling to put that choice to Putin, but Minister Wilkinson has said that those were not a viable choice. Ironically, are they a better choice than the 20% flow rate that Gazprom has now reduced the pipeline to?
We should also note that those pipelines running through Ukraine are the only piece of infrastructure that Russia has not yet bombed. Ask yourself, why not?
There are also alternative energy suppliers on the global market. We have not heard any evidence on that point and it appears that Chancellor Scholz was interested in only one alternative, the continued supply of cheap Russian gas for two more years and through a Gazprom-owned pipeline, and not any other pipeline.
As for the continuation of the permit in light of what has transpired since July 9, we submit there is no justification. As was entirely predictable, Russia did not restore the gas flow and is now demanding further concessions. First, the papers weren't in order. Now the repairs are defective. This dance will continue forever and, frankly, I am very troubled by the ease with which the Government of Canada granted the turbine waiver. It does not instill confidence that further concessions won't be granted.
One of the most important lessons that history has taught us is that appeasement of aggressors and dictators does not work. It has the opposite effect: It emboldens them. Appeasement is what got us here in the first place after the west remained silent on Georgia, on Chechnya, Crimea and the Donbass, Syria, on Salisbury, and countless other blatant violations of international law by Russia.
As NATO secretary, Jens Stoltenberg, recently stated, if Ukraine loses, it's a danger for us: It will make Europe even more vulnerable to Russian aggression. So even if you don't care about the moral aspect of this, you should care about your own security interest. He went on to say that we must pay. We must pay for the support, pay for the humanitarian aid and pay for the consequences of the economic sanctions because the alternative is to pay a much higher price later on.
Yes, we pay a price, but the price we pay as the EU and NATO is a price we measure in money. The price Ukrainians pay is measured in the lives lost every day. So it's time for Canada and our allies to finally take the upper hand in dealing with Russia and to say no to blackmail and stop responding to their demands.
Thank you for the time.
Thank you, Parliamentary Secretary Sidhu.
To the Ukrainian Canadian Congress, thank you for your testimony today.
Obviously, we want this war to come an end as soon as possible, and for Ukraine to have its territorial sovereignty and integrity protected and belonging to the Ukrainian people and no one else. Full stop.
In terms of the view of the world, our allies and working together, wouldn't you agree that it's important for Canada to continue working with our allies? You mentioned the United States. The United States came out and said they supported our decision on the turbines. The Europeans said the same thing. In fact, moving the turbines back over to mainland Europe will not impact the amount of funds that Russia collects. Those are done under a contract with Europe. MP Bezan alluded to this fact. I'm going to have to disagree with that. My understanding of how that works is that it would not actually allow Russia to gain any additional funds. I want to make that point.
Don't you agree that Canada has been working with its allies and with Ukraine? Even today, there was the announcement of the Canadian Armed Forces going over to the U.K. to continue to assist in the training of Ukrainian soldiers to defend their territorial integrity.
First, I'd like to assure the representatives of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress of our full support.
The vote that took place a few moments ago in no way reflects that we do not wish to hear from you further, quite the contrary. I told the clerk and the chair that I felt that half an hour wasn't enough time to have an opportunity to speak with you.
Having said that, I don't think it's appropriate to bring a motion at the last minute to impose witnesses on committee members. I would be very much in favour, when we discuss the next witnesses, of calling you back to allow you to continue the discussion with us, especially since things may have changed in the meantime.
You know that the European Union, in all of its sanctions, has taken care to avoid having them in any way target energy supplies from Russia. It's a precaution—let's call it that—that Canada did not take when it decided to put its sanctions regime in place, so it ended up in the situation we're in.
Considering the fact that the European Union has taken care to avoid including in its sanctions any aspects that might affect the supply of energy from Russia, do you think that this precaution has the effect of invalidating any criticisms that the Canadian government's decision results in allowing oil and gas from Russia to be supplied to Europe, thereby feeding the Russian war machine?
I would like to thank our guest from the UCC, and just give my heartfelt thanks for the work that you and the entire organization has been doing over the last terrible, terrible months, as we see what's happened in Ukraine. I know that not only are you expected to be the voice of Ukrainian Canadians but you are also dealing with the horrific burden of what we are watching happen in Ukraine. Your bravery is admirable, so thank you for being here, and for your voice. Thank you for the work that you've done to this point.
I'm also very keen on having you come back and speak to the committee. I look forward to that opportunity.
What I'd like to ask are questions just about the sanctions regime itself. Yes, I think we can look at what happened with regard to the waiver and say that, basically, we've now set up a system where Germans aren't any better off for the weakening of our sanctions. Putin has very clearly used this as a tool to blackmail our allies and us. Now it has proven to have worked. Why would he not use the same system with regard to food, with regard to energy in other countries? He has, as we know, weaponized food to the point where millions of people's lives are at risk. Will he use this to chip away at our sanctions?
It's a big worry that I have. I just wonder, from your perspective, if that's something that you see, if you do have some worry about setting a precedent where we allow a man like Vladimir Putin to blackmail Canada and to undermine our sanctions regime.
I'm sure you were watching while the ministers were here providing testimony for us. I did flag with Minister Joly that I'm very concerned about how our sanctions are being enforced, and the lack of transparency about them, so that parliamentarians and Canadians can see what is being seized, what those assets are. I've brought it up in the House a number of times. I've asked it in Order Paper questions. A perfect example is that we learned yesterday that the CBSA was able to stop a shipment of dual-use weapons to Russia, but that's the only one that they can tell us any information about. They can't release details about any other shipments.
We also know, from John Ivison's story on July 21, that Italian officials had seized Russian-bound drones sent via Canada and that the CBSA missed that shipment.
When we hear the government talk about the 1,600 sanctions it has in place, do you worry that it is performative, that this sanction regime is, in fact, a performative thing where it is saying the right things, telling us the sanctions are in place, but there is no way for us to check, no way for Canadians to know if they're working, no way for us to measure the efficacy of that sanctions regime?