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Senators Urge Ottawa to Give Sanctions Regime the Same Clarity, Assessment as Allies

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The Senate foreign-affairs committee is calling on Ottawa to clarify the reasons it issues sanctions and improve the ways it assesses whether financial embargoes and travel bans are actually working.

Senators say in a new report that Ottawa needs to be more transparent about how it chooses to sanctions people, how those who are targeted can appeal a sanction and what exactly is expected of businesses.

Canada provides less guidance than its allies on how companies are supposed to follow the rules, including what percentage of a corporation a sanctioned person can own before Canadians end up barred from doing business with it.

The committee chair, Sen. Peter Boehm, says the report comes after a year of Ottawa drastically expanding the number of people it has sanctioned due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Multiple experts told the committee they’re not sure to what degree Ottawa is actually enforcing the sanctions it chooses to impose, with just one person and one business being charged with breaching sanctions laws in more than three decades.

Ottawa has promised to hire more people to enforce sanctions, and senators say the government should also issue annual reports and create a clearer process for removing people from sanctions lists.

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