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Sanctions vs. Charter rights: Russian case a test


Canada’s attempt to seize and forfeit a Russian oligarch’s holdings could be a major test of how Ottawa balances sanctions and Charter rights.

This week, Foreign Minister Melanie Joly said she plans to use a new law to confiscate and divert assets held by people who have been sanctioned.

The first case involves Roman Abramovich, an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin who partially owns the steel company Evraz, which has facilities in Regina and Calgary.

Ottawa intends to file a court order to seize US$26 million that Abramovich holds in a Canadian bank, and divert those funds to Ukraine.

William Pellerin, a trade lawyer specializing in sanctions, says a provincial court will have to decide whether Ottawa has the jurisdiction to compel such a move, and if it breaches an existing investment protection agreement between Canada and Russia.

The Russian embassy in Ottawa called the move “an attempt of robbery in broad daylight.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 22, 2022.

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