Budget Implementation Act Endorses Destruction of Private Property
The Budget Implementation Act includes measures which, for all intents and purposes, endorse the destruction of private property.
The 450-page omnibus Bill C-19 sponsored by the governing Liberal/NDP coalition passed the Senate by a vote of 56 to 16 without any changes and became law, receiving Royal Assent on June 23. The Trudeau/Freeland bill gives the governing executive wide-ranging power to confiscate and sell assets of individuals and businesses even when they have not engaged in any illegal activity.
The Trudeau executive power now has a legal tool to confiscate the assets in Canada of individuals of Russian descent, which have already been frozen under the previous Special Economic Measures Act (SEM). The SEM includes a sanctions list of 1,400 Russian individuals and entities. The government refuses to divulge the assets or amount it has frozen under the powers of the SEM. The government can now legally steal those frozen assets.
The SEM requires everyone in Canada and all Canadians outside the country to inform the RCMP of any property in their possession or control that is believed to be owned or controlled by an individual or entity placed on Canada's sanctions list of Russian names and entities. The SEM is administered and enforced by the cartel party in power's Minister of Foreign Affairs with the RCMP collecting the information on assets owned or controlled by designated individuals.
To date, the only news on the amount of money frozen comes from the RCMP, which says state authorities "have frozen the equivalent of $124 million in assets so far" but does not identify the targeted individuals and entities. In addition, $289 million in transactions involving "sanctioned Russians" have been blocked. Ironically, some would suggest, the RCMP said it could not divulge names and their frozen assets "because of the Privacy Act."
The government has released some of the names and entities on its SEM list but not the amount of money involved. One of the individuals on the sanctions list is Roman Abramovich of Russian nationality who holds property in Canada. He owns around 30 per cent of the shares of Evraz, a global steel manufacturer that employs over 1,800 people at its facilities in Western Canada, mainly at the former IPSCO plant in Regina. No information has been disclosed whether his ownership shares in Evraz North America have been frozen and are liable to be stolen by the government executive holding power.
The largest entity on Canada's sanctions list is Russia's Central Bank. The bank owns around $20-billion in Canadian bonds and other assets, which presumably have been frozen and are now in danger of being stolen. The RCMP did not include the Canadian assets of Russia's Central Bank in its list of assets frozen and available to be stolen. However, the U.S. says it and others, including Canada, within the U.S. imperialist dominated international financial institutions have frozen $330 billion of assets owned by Russia's Central Bank.
Some commentators have pointed out that the new executive powers of C-19 to steal legal assets held internationally are open ended and could be used against anyone once targeted and sanctioned. For example, theft of social value held by individuals and entities from Myanmar has already been bandied about in the Senate as targets by Trudeau-appointed Senator Ratna Omidvar from Ontario.
Voices Raising Concern Over State-Organized Theft of Legal Assets
The CBC quotes commentators as saying stealing assets "is still a risky play. Other hostile governments could seize Canadian-owned assets abroad in retaliation. It also may violate customary international law, such as the UN Articles on states' responsibility."
The new powers of C-19 target assets in Canada owned by an individual or entity on the federal government's sanctions list. Previously, authorities could seize the proceeds of crime. With C-19, they can confiscate the assets of sanctioned individuals whether they are acquired legally or illegally.
C-19 puts the power of judge, jury, executioner and distributor of assets in the hands of ministers from the cartel party in power. Even Senator Omidvar, who pushed for some variation of the bill, questioned the lack of judicial oversight as Canada could be accused of "inappropriate distribution of funds, or worse, appropriation of funds for its own use."
On the issue of legality, federal Liberal cartel party Justice Minister David Lametti said, "You don't have an absolute right to own private property in Canada." He went on to compare this particular state-organized theft to other processes of government expropriation as a matter of government right.
C-19 puts the cartel party Minister of Foreign Affairs in charge of how government-seized money and other assets will be distributed. As all the proceedings are secret, this opens the door wide for corruption and an appearance of being sleazy. CBC reports former senior Global Affairs official Peter Boehm as wanting "safeguards in place" to avoid questions of favouritism or corruption. Regarding the issue he said, "What is the mechanism? To whom should these assets go? Do they go to individuals? Do they go to state actors?"
Rachel Ziemba with the Center for a New American Security "who advises companies and countries on sanctions policy" told the CBC that using the U.S.-controlled International Monetary Fund to "vet recipients and add more reporting to the process could add more certainty." Advisor Ziemba did not elaborate what "certainty" it would add or what makes the much-discredited IMF more reliable. Ziemba suggested that as governments embark on this business of seizing legal assets "they also have to be concerned about the message it sends on what jurisdictions are safe for foreign investment."
The amount seized according to the RCMP pales in comparison with the $20 billion the Russian Central Bank has invested in Canada. "The Russian Central Bank and some of its investment funds over the last decade really focussed on trying to reduce its exposure to U.S. dollars," Ziemba explains. "Canadian reserve assets and government bonds were attractive because they were both stable and got more yield than comparable investments in Japan or the European Union."
Russia's Central Bank is on Canada's sanctions list. Presumably its $20 billion in Canadian assets are frozen and now subject to theft although this is secret. Regarding this matter, Ziemba said: "That (seizure) might send a message to other countries that are investing in [international currency and bond] markets (such as China, she later said). That, I think, is why the [U.S.] treasury department and even the [U.S. Federal Reserve] are wary of these moves."
The CBC reports Yellen as being "reportedly cool to the idea amid suggestions it violates U.S. law and could undermine America as a safe place for other countries to invest." The CBC did not mention if she questioned the legality of the U.S. government seizing assets from Iran, Afghanistan and elsewhere including Syrian and Iraqi oil and what kind of message that sends to other countries.
C-19 May Violate International Law
Proposed powers to sell and redistribute Russian assets may violate international law, says legal expert David Kleimann, an international law advisor. Chapter Two of the United Nations Articles on the Responsibility of States for Internationally Wrongful Acts, was adopted by the International Law Commission in 2001 and submitted to the General Assembly. It lays out rules for countermeasures member states may take to hold another member accountable for illegal acts such as the U.S./NATO invasion of Afghanistan, the bombing and destruction of Yugoslavia and Libya and the U.S. "coalition of the willing" that invaded and destroyed Iraq.
Article 49 of Chapter Two says countermeasures to illegal acts "shall, as far as possible, be taken in such a way as to permit the resumption of performance of the obligations in question." C-19 however goes further, allowing authorities not only to freeze assets held in Canada but steal and sell them off. Obviously this does not "permit the resumption of performance of the obligations in question," putting C-19 in violation of international law.
After reviewing C-19, David Kleimann says he has concerns. He told the CBC: "I believe that the legal question is relatively clear here, that such an action or such procedures would violate international law." In an interview with the CBC, Kleimann said that stealing assets for whatever good or bad reason takes us down a path "to the law of the jungle, and that makes Western assets very much vulnerable to seizure, confiscation and using those proceeds for other purposes. And that is not necessarily something that Western countries would like to see, I imagine."
Concern is expressed that if Canada undermines the international standard as found in UN Article 49, it could set a risky precedent for foreign investors generally. Other governments that find themselves in conflict with Canada could follow suit and seize Canadian assets abroad. What goes around comes around, as people say.
What none of them say however, is that the international system based on private property is being destroyed. Private property can be destroyed. Just as the Civil War in the United States destroyed the system of slave labour in favour of the system of wage slavery, now at a time the U.S. imperialists and their appeasers such as Canada have imposed anarchy and violence as their way of life and they call it an "international rules-based order," private property itself is being destroyed.
There will be no going back. Self-serving arguments will not change the reality one iota.
Conservative cartel party foreign affairs critic Michael Chong suggests international law and rights apply only to those countries Canada determines are acceptable according to Canada's view and criteria. He told CBC, "Authoritarian states like Russia have demonstrated that they are willing to challenge democracies existentially and that they have zero regard for the most basic rules of the international system.
"States like Russia have forfeited some of their rights to participate in that system, particularly economically. Western sanctions and economic policy must change to acknowledge this new reality."
Kleimann tells the CBC that the Trudeau government risks looking hypocritical enacting a domestic law enabling its officials to violate international law. Kleimann says he finds it "relatively odd there hasn't been more debate in Canada" on C-19 and the entire issue of state-organized theft of legal assets. Discussion has been of the ilk of NDP cartel party member for Edmonton Strathcona Heather McPherson complaining about a lack of information, which obviously does not deal with the substance of the issue which is in fact the destruction of private property. According to her, "Global Affairs will not tell us what assets have been frozen because it says that its data may not be complete, so the government does not know what has been sanctioned and Canadians do not know what has been sanctioned." Without this information, Canadians have no way of telling if the government's plan to pressure Russia is actually working, she added.
None of this has bothered NDP leader Jagmeet Singh who supports C-19 and the theft of assets of Russian individuals and entities. The Conservative party said it opposes C-19 but not the particular measures to steal Russian assets.
Theft of what belongs to others to advance private interests is the fundamental modus operandi under capitalism. In this regard, many point out that the cartel parties all recently agreed to apologize to Canadians of Japanese origin for stealing their houses, boats, businesses and other assets during WWII and sending men, women and children to internment camps for the "crime" of being of Japanese descent. Also, the cartel parties are apologizing for the theft of Indigenous land and genocide and other crimes committed against them, which continue to this day notwithstanding.
This article was published in
Volume 52 Number 7 - July 17, 2022