Ottawa imposes sanctions on Gadhafi regime
Published Sunday, February 27, 2011 10:00PM EST
Last Updated Saturday, May 19, 2012 4:02AM EDT
Ottawa has imposed binding sanctions on the regime of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, a move that government sources say will keep his family from withdrawing millions of dollars from Canadian banks.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced the sanctions on Sunday evening, saying they were implemented in line with a United Nations Security Council resolution passed a day earlier.
The sanctions include an arms embargo to prevent the sale or purchase of weapons with Libya, inspecting cargo bound for the North African country, a travel ban on Gadhafi and 15 of his close associates, and an asset freeze on Gadhafi and his family.
"The murder of its own citizens by the Libyan regime and the gross violations of the population's human rights will not be tolerated by the international community and will carry serious consequences," Harper said.
Government sources told CTV News that Gadhafi's family has millions of dollars tied up in several Canadian financial institutions, and were planning to withdraw it all on Monday.
The sanctions also mean that oil giants like Calgary-based Suncor Energy, which has already paid more than $3 billion for drilling contracts in Libya, will not be able to collect payment. Neither will Quebec-based SNC-Lavalin, which is in the midst of building a prison, a dam and an airport in the North African country.
Canada's sanctions went one step beyond the UN resolution, imposing an asset freeze and barring financial transactions involving the Libyan government, including the country's central bank.
Evacuation goes on
Harper added that evacuation efforts continue for Canadians who remain in Libya.
Ottawa has faced accusations that it bungled its evacuation effort after aircraft were forced to leave Tripoli's chaotic airport without any passengers on board. Dozens of Canadians left the country on flights chartered by other countries, as well as on a U.S.-flagged ferry.
Earlier on Sunday, Defence Minister Peter MacKay said two aircraft left Libya without rescuing any Canadians because they ran out of time, and were ordered to depart by local airport officials.
MacKay said the aircraft had arrived in the middle of the night and officials were having difficulty both identifying Canadians who were waiting at the airport and determining if they were allowed to leave the country.
The planes had been given a limited amount of time to remain at the airport, so aircraft from other countries could land.
"There was very little co-operation being extended to Canadians by officials at the airport," MacKay told CTV's Question Period in an interview from Halifax. "And so they were then told they had to leave because there were specific time slots that were being given to countries at that time."
MacKay said a C17 aircraft that managed to fly 46 people, including 24 Canadians, out of Libya early Saturday morning landed in Tripoli without the proper authorization because of the difficulties experienced by the two commercial planes.
The head of Canada's mission in Tripoli and other embassy staff were among the Canadians on that flight. The rest of the passengers hailed from a number of countries such as the United Kingdom and Australia, MacKay said.
So far, about 235 Canadians have made it out of Libya, with about 100 still in the country who have expressed a desire to leave, he said.
According to MacKay, in addition to the two C17s that are on standby in Malta, two Hercules aircraft will make their way to the region later Sunday.
The defence minister would not confirm if the government plans to use the Hercules aircraft to fly stranded Canadian oil workers out of Libya. However, the Hercules is able to land in difficult conditions and shorter runway space, which makes it suitable for such operations.
The four aircraft may also be used to help other countries get their citizens out of Libya, MacKay said.
Gadhafi has cracked down heavily on protesters who have taken to the streets of the capital and elsewhere demanding his ouster, with death toll estimates in the hundreds.
World leaders have harshly condemned Gadhafi's use of force against his own people, which has led the United Nations and countries such as the United States to impose sanctions on his regime.
MacKay said Canada has "no immediate plans to send naval assets" to Libya, though there are ships nearby and available to be deployed "as quickly as possible."
With a report from CTV's Richard Madan and files from The Canadian Press