Canada, Syria, and Suncor Energy

John Baird is wrong to say Canada is allowing Suncor to continue working in Syria out of humanitarian concerns


Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird says Canada has not blocked Suncor Energy Inc.’s operations in Syria because the natural gas it extracts is used solely to generate electricity for civilian use. It would be “negative, not positive” to cut off hospitals and families, he added.

This is, at best, is a dubious claim. Suncor’s partnership in Syria is with a state-owned company. Revenues go to the regime. Some of those revenues may be used to keep the lights on in hospitals. Some may be used to massacre peaceful protesters. Canada isn’t allowing Suncor to continue working in Syria out of humanitarian concerns. 

Suffice to say, Syrians opposed to al-Assad’s regime don’t buy Baird’s explanation. Here’s Faisal Alazem of the Syrian Canadian Council speaking on CBC Radio’s The Current: “By proxy, here we are implicated in the salaries of militia thugs who propagate terror in Syria.”

I’ve written in more detail about DFAIT’s tawdry spinning on Suncor and Syria here.

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Canada, Syria, and Suncor Energy

  1. Tough to shut down existing operations, espec if joint venture. New dev (drilling and facilities/pipelines) may be different

    • If the Canadian government wanted to stop investment in Syria. It could pass a change to the Income Tax Act that imposed an extra 10% tax on anyone/corporation with more than $5 million investments in Syria. They probably would need to make this apply to any subsidiary to any such company to prevent there being a giant loophole. This would not shut down the existing operation… though it would cause Canadians companies to sell their investments in Syria.

      • A stronger case had been made in the past against Talisman investment in the Sudan. As I recall, gov’t took no such action. They did eventually sell off to the Chinese, though.

        Btw, I suspect this Syrian investment is not unlike the Libya situation with Suncor – assets they acquired when they took over PetroCanada. Perhaps divestiture of these assets is already in their plans.

  2. Can’t see the full text for the WSJ article quoting Baird, but if his argument is that sanctions would hurt civilians why is his government cutting off Canada’s agricultural exports to Iran just up the block? Won’t cutting off food hurt the people the government of Iran is repressing?

    Speaking of complete inconsistency, I recommend the As it Happens interview last night with Chris Alexander on Iran in which he was asked directly if Israel’s nuclear weapons program is also illegal. He answered that the interview wasn’t about that and then said that Israel is a democracy.

    In other words our foreign policy on the Middle East is so incoherent, it’s hard to tell that we have any.

    • It is not hard to figure out our ME foreign policy. We support the Likud party and everything it chooses to do. What’s confusing about that?

  3. By this reasoning, all students paying tuition to UC Davis ought to be recalled as they are paying a portion of the salaries of vicious thugs.

  4.  “By proxy, here we are implicated in the salaries of militia thugs who propagate terror in Syria.”

    I can recall Thatcher that great supporter of human rights making pretty much the same argument over apartheid in SA., even though public opinion in SA was clearly for bearing the sacrifice. It was a sham then, it is probably a sham now. How is this in any way different from how the libs used to operate? No wonder the west has such difficulty connecting with the common man in the ME; they can see through morally selective sanctions as well or better then we can. 

  5. Baird’s spinning. Suncor also has an oil project associated with Ebla, which began producing approximately 1,000 barrels per day in December 2010.

  6. Or we could, ya know, give the rebel army some guns.

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