Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird
Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird Israel News photo: Wikimedia Commons

Canada imposed economic sanctions against Syria on Tuesday, in response to the Syrian regime’s violent suppression of anti-government protesters, the Canadian Press reported.

Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird announced the measures and called the Syrian regime’s actions a grave breach of international peace.

“We are taking these actions because of the regime’s steadfast and continued refusal to end its violent repression of peaceful demonstrators and the threat this poses to the region,” Baird was quoted as saying. “This abhorrent crackdown must end.”

The sanctions go into effect immediately. They will prevent Syrian leaders from travelling to Canada and essentially ban trade between the two countries.

“Canada is gravely concerned at the excessive use of force by the Syrian regime against its own people, which has reportedly resulted in the deaths of hundreds of civilians and the detention of thousands more,” Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said in a statement. “The sanctions being announced today are a repudiation of Syria’s blatant violation of its international human-rights obligations that threaten the security of the entire Middle East.”

The sanctions Canada announced on Tuesday include:

  • A travel ban to Canada imposed on designated people associated with the current Syrian regime;
  • An asset freeze against people associated with the current Syrian regime and entities involved in security and military operations against the Syrian people;
  • A ban under the Export and Import Permits Act on the export from Canada to Syria of goods and technology that are subject to export controls;
  • A suspension of all bilateral co-operation agreements and initiatives with Syria.

CP noted that Canada’s action followed an afternoon meeting of a cabinet committee on national security. The committee is chaired by Harper and it includes Baird, Canadian Defense Minister Peter MacKay and other ranking cabinet ministers.

Canada’s sanctions against Syria came just hours after the government in Switzerland decided to freeze any assets in the country belonging to Syrian President Bashar Assad, as well as assets belonging to other top Syrian officials. Assad has also been banned from entering Switzerland.