Enforcing Canadian Sanctions
Special Economic Measures Act
Welcome to a special edition of Insight Intelligence! Today’s newsletter is brought to you by a reader question about sanctions enforcement in Canada. Thanks for the question Douglas, and I hope this helps!
There are a number of different sanctions regimes in Canada: there’s the Canadian terrorist listings process, the Special Economic Measures Act (SEMA), the Freezing Assets of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act, the Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act and various other acts with other sanctioning powers / exclusions. The Special Economic Measures Act is Canada’s primary sanction tool — we use it extensively, and this is what creates our “Russia” sanctions.
In sanctions, there are four primary mechanisms: targeting, implementation, monitoring, and enforcement. In Canada, enforcement is done by the RCMP, although other departments and agencies could play a role.1 (If you’re interested in reading more about the roles and responsibilities of departments and agencies with regards to SEMA, check out the article at the footnote by my friend Mike Saunders.) Targeting is done by Global Affairs Canada. They are responsible for creating the sanctions list, and responding to enquiries and providing information to the public through the department’s website. Critics of this process point out that Global Affairs has been reluctant to provide actual advice and guidance on the implementation of sanctions.2 That implementation is done by the private sector, such as banks and financial institutions (anyone required under law to implement the sanctions). So how many sanctions breaches have there been in Canada?