Remarks by Minister Baird on Syrian Sanctions

No. 2011/18 - Ottawa, Ontario - May 24, 2011

Check Against Delivery

I have just left the first meeting of the Cabinet’s National Security Committee, which is chaired by Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

I briefed members of the committee on the situation in Syria.

And I am here now to announce that Canada will, effective immediately, impose economic sanctions on members of the current Syrian regime under the Special Economic Measures Act.

We are taking these actions because of the regime’s steadfast and continued refusal to end its violent repression of peaceful demonstrators and because of the threat this poses to the region.

This abhorrent crackdown must end. It is a grave breach of international peace.

Reports indicate that more than 1,000 people have been killed by Syrian military and security forces since March 15. Hundreds more have been injured. And an estimated 10,000 people have been arrested.

The international community is not standing idly by—nor is Canada.

The measures we are taking will ensure that people associated with the current Syrian regime, who are believed to be inadmissible to Canada, are prevented from travelling to this country.

The measures will also include a ban on the export from Canada to Syria of goods and technology that are subject to export controls.

This includes arms and munitions, and military, nuclear and strategic items that are intended for use by the armed forces, police or other governmental agencies of Syria.

Any bilateral cooperation agreements and initiatives with Syria will be suspended.

Canada continues to recommend against all travel to Syria.

The sanctions will impose a series of targeted measures against the Syrian regime and some designated individuals and entities.

The sanctions will prohibit persons in Canada and Canadians abroad from dealing in the property of persons listed by the Governor-in-Council.

Providing financial services and making any property available for the benefit of listed persons will be prohibited.

These measures are consistent with Canada’s foreign policy priorities.

The sanctions we are putting in place will target the current Syrian regime and are not meant to punish the Syrian people.

The Syrian people have expressed a clear desire for a more transparent system of government. Their call for a more democratic society has been heard.

We urge Syrian authorities to respect the rights of the Syrian people to freedom of assembly and freedom of expression.

We call on the Syrian authorities to immediately stop using force against peaceful demonstrators.

Canada condemns in the strongest terms the actions of the current regime.