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Results: 1 - 15 of 194
View Jonathan Wilkinson Profile
Lib. (BC)
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.
View Jonathan Wilkinson Profile
Lib. (BC)
Marty, I mean, that question actually was the subject of conversations between me and the Germans, as you would expect with energy ministers, so I'm happy to answer your question.
We certainly discussed the issues around gas supply. As you know, there was concern about the reductions within the pipeline and the Russian statement that this was as a result of the turbine. Certainly, we talked about how returning the turbine potentially could address that issue if in fact the Russians were telling the truth—although most of us were of the view that they were not. Therefore, it was really very much about calling the bluff of the Russians.
As my colleague has said, that statement and that approach was supported not just by Germany but by the European Union and by the United States as well.
View Jonathan Wilkinson Profile
Lib. (BC)
Absolutely. Certainly, I discussed that with Minister Habeck, who was the German energy minister, on an ongoing basis. That was absolutely part of the conversation.
View Jonathan Wilkinson Profile
Lib. (BC)
View Jonathan Wilkinson Profile
Lib. (BC)
The short answer is yes. I cannot overemphasise the depth of the concern on the part of the Germans, but also on the part of the European Union, with respect to the potential implications associated with their effectively not being able to access natural gas.
The German energy minister, Minister Habeck, who is also the vice-chancellor of Germany, reiterated that to me on many occasions. I spoke to him almost every day for several weeks.
It wasn't just limited to the Germans. It was also the Commissioner for Energy of the European Union, Ms. Simson, who underlined this very strongly in the discussions that we had. I will also tell you that in the conversations we had with the United States, they reflected and shared the concerns about the divisions that could end up undermining support for Ukraine, which would be in nobody's interest.
View Jonathan Wilkinson Profile
Lib. (BC)
Can I take that question?
I think, Mr. Bezan, you actually misunderstand a lot of the things that were going on—
View Jonathan Wilkinson Profile
Lib. (BC)
The Ukrainian government actually proposed an alternative route for the gas to flow through Ukraine—that was their proposal. That would have had zero impact on the dollars that accrue to Russia, because it still would have been Russian gas flowing through the alternative pipeline. At the end of the day—
View Jonathan Wilkinson Profile
Lib. (BC)
—if you're saying you think all Russian gas should be cut off from the European Union right now, then you need to be able to explain to the Germans and the French and the Italians how they're going to survive the winter. It's very easy to make those kinds of comments.
I would say—and perhaps you can put this on the record—
View Jonathan Wilkinson Profile
Lib. (BC)
—if you're saying that the Conservative Party would not have returned the turbines, I think it's important for Canadians to understand that that's the position of the Conservative Party of Canada. Is that the position?
View Jonathan Wilkinson Profile
Lib. (BC)
Because we actually did our due diligence, Mr. Bezan.
View Jonathan Wilkinson Profile
Lib. (BC)
We actually worked with the International Energy Agency to see how viable that option was, and it was not viable in terms of flowing the amounts of gas that would be required. It would actually require that we have faith in Russia that they would [Inaudible—Editor] the gas flows—
View Jonathan Wilkinson Profile
Lib. (BC)
If you did your diligence—
View Jonathan Wilkinson Profile
Lib. (BC)
—on this question, Mr. Bezan—
View Jonathan Wilkinson Profile
Lib. (BC)
—you would know that was not a viable option.
View Jonathan Wilkinson Profile
Lib. (BC)
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.
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