Canada imposes additional Libyan sanctions

Canada has decided to go beyond the sanctions announced Saturday by the United Nations Security Council against Libya, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Sunday.


  • Canada imposes additional sanctions against Libya
  • Harper says more than 230 Canadians have been evacuated from Libya

Canada has decided to go beyond the sanctions announced Saturday by the United Nations Security Council against Libya's Moammar Gadhafi, his five children and top associates, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Sunday.

The security council unanimously voted to freeze the assets of Gadhafi and to impose a travel ban on the Libyan dictator, his children and his 10 top associates.

The resolution also includes an arms embargo and a request to the International Criminal Court to investigate Libyan leaders for possible crimes against humanity.

The federal government has imposed an asset freeze and a ban on financial transactions with the government of Libya, its institutions and agencies, including the Libyan central bank, Harper said during a news conference on Sunday evening in Ottawa.

"These actions will help restrict the movement of and access to money and weapons for those responsible for violence against the Libyan people," he said.

CBC News has learned that the Gadhafi regime tried to withdraw a substantial amount of money from several Canadian financial institutions and Harper took steps to ensure that didn't happen, the CBC's Hannah Thibedeau reported.

"There was a concern that if the government didn't act tonight, the money would have been withdrawn by the morning," she said.

The ban on financial transactions with the Libyan government means that major Canadian companies, such as SNC-Lavalin and Suncor Energy Inc., must cease all operations in Libya and they won't be able to restart operations or sign any contracts until the sanctions are lifted, she reported, citing government sources. 

Harper also issued an update on his government's rescue efforts to remove Canadians from Libya as Gadhafi's forces continue to fight anti-government protesters in the North African country.

230 Canadians rescued: Harper

To date, more than 230 Canadians have been evacuated from Libya on a number of flights and vessels, he said. Furthermore, work to remove remaining Canadians continues around the clock in close co-operation with British and other allies, he said.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper delivers a statement on the situation in Libya in the foyer of the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Sunday evening. ((Chris Wattie/Reuters))

"A second C-17 has now arrived in Malta," Harper said. "The Canadian Armed Forces in co-ordination with our allies will deploy these aircraft as circumstances permit. We're also deploying two C-130 Hercules aircraft to the region to provide additional and flexible capacity."

That brings the number of Canadian military transport planes to four in Malta, which has become the staging area for Canada's airlifts from Libya.

In recent days, the government said that only about 100 of the remaining 200 Canadians still in Libya wanted to leave the country.

Those aircraft were expected to carry out the latest evacuation from the strife-torn country sometime on Sunday, a government source told CBC News.

"When asked why so many aircraft were being deployed, the response was the 100 people may not be in the same location across the country, so they might have to have several operations or go into several locations simultaneously," Thibedeau reported.

The Emergency Operations Centre of the Foreign Affairs Department continues to call registered Canadians by phone about opportunities to leave the country "by any possible means," Harper said. He also urged Canadians there to seek consular advice through the government website, www.travel.gc.ca.

Early Saturday, a C-17 Globemaster aircraft left the Libyan capital of Tripoli bound for Malta carrying 46 evacuees, including Canadian and Australian embassy officials, whose departure marked the suspension of diplomatic ties with Libya.