Montrealers Protest Ottawa’s Plan to Return Russian Pipeline Parts
About 100 demonstrators gathered in Montreal’s Phillips Square on Sunday to protest Ottawa’s decision to send repaired parts of a Russian gas pipeline to Germany, in violation of its economic sanctions.
The Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline, owned by Russian Gazprom, is used to transport natural gas to Germany, which depends on Russia for its energy supply.
For the demonstrators, the economic compromise reached by the government of Justin Trudeau is a step backwards and a gesture of weakness in the face of Russian pressure.
“Our community is deeply disappointed by the Canadian government’s decision to give in to Russian blackmail,” said Zoya Shwec, president of the Ukrainian Students’ Association of the University of Montreal.
She says it’s not too late to revoke the directive, which she says will “allow Russia to receive even more money for murdering Ukrainians.”
“Yes, you’re going to hear a lot about the economy, about turbines, about natural gas, but never forget to put that in context,” said Michael Shwec, president of the Quebec branch of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress.
“History will judge us all. History will ask you what you did. Did you support an economy, or did you defend tens of thousands of lives?”
The Honorary Consul of Ukraine in Montreal, Eugène Czolij, recalled that the House of Commons had adopted a motion at the end of April condemning “acts of genocide against the Ukrainian people”.
“You don’t prevent and punish genocide by lifting sanctions,” he said. “It is time not to lift, but to add sanctions and provide the lethal weapons needed for Ukraine to secure a no-fly zone to stop the slaughter of thousands of people, including babies and young children.”
Many participants in the protest carried Ukrainian flags or placards criticizing Russia.
Montreal is home to the Siemens factory that repaired the turbines and was allowed to ship them back to Germany without penalty, despite economic sanctions imposed on Vladimir Putin’s regime for its invasion of Ukraine.
A second protest is also scheduled for Sunday in Ottawa.
President Volodymyr Zelensky expressed his displeasure with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in a phone conversation on Sunday.
In Ottawa, Tory MPs on Friday demanded that top Liberal cabinet ministers explain the controversial decision at a special foreign affairs meeting next week.
The Liberals have accepted Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly and Natural Resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson to answer questions.
Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said Saturday that Canada’s decision to return repaired parts of the Russian pipeline was difficult but necessary.
Last month, Russia cut gas deliveries to Germany by 60% from its Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline, citing technical problems with the turbines.
The Canadian government says it made the decision pending a transition to limit Europe’s energy dependence on Russia.
“Without the necessary supply of natural gas, the German economy will experience very significant difficulties, and Germans themselves may not be able to heat their homes as winter approaches,” the minister said. Wilkinson last week.
This report was first published in French by La Presse canadienne on July 17, 2022.