Canada is expanding its sanctions against Syria's Bashar al- Assad regime, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird announced Tuesday.
"We are toughening and expanding our sanctions against Syria. Certainly by no means can Canada do it alone, but we can play our part in the international community," he said.
Baird made the announcement as the security council was preparing to vote on a resolution condemning the crackdown against protesters that started last March. Russia is expected to veto the resolution.
The new sanctions freeze the assets of 27 more people and 12 entities in the country.
The expanded measures include:
- Travel restrictions, an asset freeze and a prohibition on dealings with members of the regime and those who provide it with support.
- A prohibition on the importation, purchase, acquisition, carrying or shipment of petroleum or petroleum products from Syria.
- A prohibition on providing financing for new investment in the oil industry or the acquisition, purchase, supply or importation of petroleum or petroleum products in Syria.
Canada isn't considering military intervention, Baird said, in part because Syrian representatives in Canada and the U.S. don't want it, and because the UN Security Council wouldn't approve it. Baird singled out the security council for not speaking out against the regime.
"Canada's prepared to do our part and stand up against the really repressive actions of the Assad regime in Syria," Baird said.
"We haven't even seen a strong denunciation at the security council, which is deeply disappointing ... Obviously we'd support a denunciation and UN sanctions to match those that Canada, the U.S. and the EU have been pushing."
NDP Foreign Affairs critic Hélène Laverdière says her party, which had asked for increased sanctions, is pleased with the announcement.
"We are quite happy with the step taken," she said. "However, we will also have to see what will be the UN recommendation and how the two mix together, and it might be only the first step. We may need to take further steps along the way but the good news is that the situation is followed quite closely [by Baird]."
Laverdière echoed Baird's comment about military intervention.
"The Syrian people haven't asked for military intervention in the country so there's not even a need to consider that," she said.