From today’s “National Post”, a Canadian national news outlet of sorts, through its online service: Quote:
A motion proposed in the [Canadian federal] House of Commons Tuesday would make Canada the first country in the G7 with the power to not only freeze and seize assets of sanctioned individuals, but to sell them off as well. Those assets would include planes, yachts, helicopters, mansions, condos, bank accounts and cryptocurrency wallets belonging to oligarchs, for example.
I’m feeling pretty uncomfortable with this, in part because this reeks of Canada’s decision in 1942 to sell off assets of Japanese Canadians who were taken into protective custody. The argument then – IMHO a weak, morally questionable one – was that the government would use the money from sales of impounded goods (farms, fishboats, houses, etc.) to fund the cost of the incarceration. What will be the argument this time?
I have not studied the full meaning of the West’s spate of seizures, sanctions, freezes against “oligarchs” and others in the Russian sphere of power and authority. At least one reason I have heard is that stripping such folks of their vast wealth, toys, residences and the like will cause them to pressure Mr Putin to cease and desist. Have I got that right? IIUC, these “oligarchs” have – what was Dr Johnson’s phrase – “wealth beyond the dreams of avarice”. It’s also possible that seizure of assets is a uniquely capitalist penalty that may not be applicable to those either outside (or, perhaps, sufficiently wealthy within) the capitalist system.
I’m not attempting to engage in a political science debate here. Sanctions of various sorts have always been a weapon of war, or even a weapon of mere disagreement. Typically, as I understand it, such sanctions (monetary, trade, etc.) punish the civilian populations while strengthening their resolve, which seems to me counter-productive. But I don’t have an MBA from Wharton; what do I know.
My point is simple. Is there any justification for selling off foreign assets of these natures. Seizing assets is one thing; selling them is totally different.
Maybe I’ll feel different if somebody can explain the argument by which Canada can – as I see it! – act as a fence for stolen goods.
"We have met the enemy, and he is us." Walt Kelly.
"The Best Things in Life Aren't Things" Bumper sticker.