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.