Canada is not done retaliating against U.S. President Donald Trump over his recently announced trade tariffs. On top of retaliatory tariffs imposed by the Trudeau government, an anti-US consumer boycott and a nationwide movement to avoid travel to the U.S., Canada is also considering trade sanctions on the Trump organization.
The suggestion was brought up during Tuesday's question period in the House. MP Erin Weir, a former NDP supporter and current member of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation, took to the floor to say that he "supports the Prime Minister standing up to President Trump."
He then asked everyone in the room if they would support an additional measure that involves attacking the Trump family's businesses and assets directly:
"To apply further pressure, has the government considered retaliatory sanctions targeting the Trump organization rather than the American people?"
The question was received with nods of agreement around the room, including at the other end where cabinet members of Foreign Affairs minister Chrystia Freeland were seated. After stressing once again that the U.S. trade tariffs are "illegal," "unjustified," and "insulting" to Canadians, Freeland responded to Weir's question by saying that she did not reject the idea.
"We are now in a consultation period. We welcome ideas from all Canadians on wat should and shouldn't be in our retaliation list."
Weir referered to a piece of legislation called the Sergei Magnitsky law, which could allow the Trudeau government to sanction foreign nationals engaged in corruption. But because the Magnitsky law mostly deals with human rights violations, it is tricky to say whether the Trudeau government can actually use it for the purposes Weir suggests.
The Magnitsky act can be enacted when "a foreign national has materially assisted, sponsored or provided financial material or technological support for, or goods or services in support of" corruption. Trump's alleged ties to Russia could apply in this case, but only if it can be proven that he has actually contributed to some act of corruption.
"I can see how it would be seen as a radical measure, but we are confronted with a radical reality from the Trump administration," adds Weir. "Sanctions targeting te U.S. president are certainly not something that most Canadians would want to have to contemplate, but I fear President Trump has put us in that position."
Conversely, Bill Browder, an American entrepreneur, thinks that the Magnitsky act has no application in this case and that people are just overreacting.
"It's people getting emotional about stuff for good reason to be emotional about, but you can't start using laws that aren't meant to be used in a trade dispute," he says, even though it was Trump who deemed America's greatest ally a national security threat.
There is no word yet on whether Weir's suggestion will actually be taken up, but if the Trudeau government does decide to do so, it may be a good way to punish Trump without punishing the entire American people.