Open letter to PM, demanding end to economic sanctions

The following letter was issued on April 13 by the Hamilton Coalition To Stop The War and the Mouvement Québécois pour la paix/Quebec Movement for Peace.

The letter’s 100 signatories ask the Prime Minister to suspend Canada’s economic sanctions against the twenty countries against which it currently maintains these “coercive economic measures.” The request echoes the appeal by United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterrres to G-20 countries on March 23, 2020, for those countries “to waive sanctions imposed on countries to ensure access to food, essential health supplies, and COVID-19 medical support.”


The Right Honourable Justin Trudeau April 13, 2020

Prime Minister of Canada

Dear Sir:

In his March 23, 2020, letter to the leaders of the G20 countries, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres declared, “I am encouraging the waiving of sanctions imposed on countries to ensure access to food, essential health supplies, and COVID-19 medical support. This is the time for solidarity not exclusion… Let us remember that we are only as strong as the weakest health system in our interconnected world.”1 At the same time, ambassadors of eight countries currently affected by economic sanctions, namely, Cuba, Iran, Venezuela, Syria, Nicaragua, China, Russia, and North Korea, petitioned the secretary-general for “the immediate and complete lifting of those (coercive economic) measures to enable nations to respond to the coronavirus pandemic.”Furthermore, in his Easter message, Pope Francis echoed Mr. Guterres’s call to suspend economic sanctions now.

Following upon Mr. Guterres’s appeal, we, the undersigned, call upon your government to set a bold example for the G-20 and the world by suspending all of the economic sanctions regimes which Canada currently maintains against twenty sovereign states and/or their citizens, half of which are located in Africa.

Applying economic sanctions is a warlike act, and often kills more people than actual weapons. That’s why the power to level economic sanctions is restricted exclusively to the United Nations Security Council. Moreover, these sanctions hurt the poorest and most vulnerable sectors of society by causing hunger, disease, and unemployment. They are explicitly designed to do so. Officials of the US government, which routinely levels sanctions against governments it doesn’t like, have spoken openly about using suffering to try and spur ordinary civilians in targeted countries to rebel against their national authorities. The US government has also forced other countries to obey its sanctions regime against targeted states through the use of extraterritoriality, that is, by penalizing foreign corporations that dare to trade with countries which the USA has sanctioned. Humanitarian goods such as medical supplies, which are exempted from economic sanctions under international law, have consistently been denied to countries such as Iran and Venezuela, despite the crises that those two countries face. That the US government would actually increase the sanctions against those two countries during a pandemic is simply barbaric.

We note that your government has also levelled unilateral, i.e., illegal sanctions. Only in the cases of Iran and North Korea has the UN Security Council authorized multilateral sanctions and, regarding Iran, those sanctions were to have been lifted in 2015 in accordance with the signing of the JCPOA and its ratification in UN resolution 2231. In response to the global pandemic, we believe that Canada’s economic sanctions, whether unilateral or multilateral (excluding those sanctions relating to the arms trade) should be suspended in accordance with the wishes of UN Secretary-General Guterres.

Finally, we note that, on April 10, your government publicized its full support for Mr. Guterres’s call for a temporary global ceasefire,4 but announced it would give the green light to new Canadian arms sales to Saudi Arabia.5 We find these two actions contradictory. We applaud the former and oppose the latter, at least until the government of Saudi Arabia ends its illegal war on the people of Yemen. We further call upon your government to follow action for divestment and disarmament mandated by the United Nations and to adhere to the climate objectives stated in the (COP21) Paris Climate Agreement.

In view of the urgency created by the pandemic, we look forward to your earliest possible reply.


Greg Albo, Professor of Politics, York University

Janice Alton, Voice of Women-Past Co-Chair

Rachad Antonius, professeur titulaire, Université du Québec à Montréal

Mary-Wynne Ashford, MD, PhD. International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War Canada

Arnold August, journalist and author

Imam Zafar Bangash, Islamic Society of York Region

André Bélisle, président Association Québécoise de lutte contre la pollution atmosphérique (AQLPA)

Chris Black, international lawyer and author, Toronto

Rana Bose, engineer and writer

Marie Boti, cinéastev-p, International Women’s Alliance

Doug Brown, co-chair, Hamilton Coalition To Stop The War

Nancy K. Brown, membre exécutive du MQP, Raging Grannie

Malcolm Buchanon, Former General Secretary Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation [OSSTF]; President Hamilton, Burlington, Oakville Chapter, Congress of Union Retirees of Canada, Hamilton and District Labour Council Executive Member

Pascale Camirand, philosophe éthicienne féministe

Theorora Carroll, membre des Conférences internationales sur la Science et les Affaires Globales Pugwash

Claudia Chaufan, MD, PhD, Graduate Program Director, Associate Professor, School of Health Policy and Management, York University

Ed Corrigan, lawyer, London, ON

Lay Canon Phyllis Creighton, adjunct faculty, Faculty of Divinity, Trinity College, Toronto; Anglican Award of Merit; Order of Ontario

Gail Davidson, Executive Director, Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada

Luce Des Aulniers, docteure d’État en anthropologie, professeure émérite associée, Faculté de communication, Université du Québec à Montréal (fondatrice des Études supérieures interdisciplinaires sur la mort, 1980)

Yvon Deschamps, humoriste retraité et porte-parole de la Fondation Yvon Deschamps Centre-Sud

Emily Drysdale, Master of Social Work

Michel Duguay, physicien, professeur honoraire de l’université Laval

Raôul Duguay, peintre, auteur-compositeur-interprète, Artiste pour la Paix honoraire

Gordon Edwards, président-fondateur de la Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsability

Nour El Kadri, professor, Strategic Management and E-Business, University of Ottawa

Yves Engler, author

Raef Fawaz, Ardi Contractors, Hamilton

John Foster, Kingston ON, economist, author of Oil and World Politics

Alan Freeman, University of Manitoba, Former Principal Economist, Greater London Authority

Rolf Gerstenberger, Past President, Local 1005 USW, Hamilton

Ali T. Ghouse MD FRCPC. Clinical Associate Professor, McMaster University

Judy Goldschmidt, Mid Islanders for Justice and Peace in the Middle East

Cy Gonick, founder, Canadian Dimension Magazine

Stephen Roy Gowans, author, Ottawa

Malcolm Guy, réalisateur/producteur, Productions Multi-Monde; vice-président externe, Ligue internationale de lutte des peuples (LILP-ILPS)

Judy Haiven, PhD, Writer/Activist, retired professor, Saint Mary’s University

Larry Hannant, Historian and Author, Victoria, BC

David Heap, Associate Professor, University of Western Ontario

André Jacob, auteur et artiste visuel, ex vice-président des Artistes pour la Paix

Pierre Jasmin, Artiste pour la Paix, Co-prés. d’honneur du Mouvement Québécois pour la Paix

Frederick Jones, Past President, Dawson Teachers’ Union

Bruce Katz, Co-président, Palestinian and Jewish Unity

Amir Khadir, médecin infectiologue, ex-député de Québec solidaire

Saïdeh Khadir, médecin

Robert Korol, Professor Emeritus, Civil Engineering, McMaster University

Dr. Atif Kubursi, Professor Emeritus of Economics, McMaster University

Jean-Daniel Lafond, O.C., Chevalier Arts et Lettres, cinéaste et écrivain, co-président et directeur général de la Fondation Michaëlle Jean

Gérald Larose, professeur à l’UQAM et ex-président de la Confédération des Syndicats Nationaux

Dimitri Lascaris, lawyer, journalist, activist

Tony Leah, Chairperson, Unifor Local 222 Political Action Committee, Oshawa

Pierre LeBlanc, auteur et analyste, Ottawa

Michael A. Lebowitz, Professor Emeritus of Economics, Simon Fraser University

Ed Lehman, President, Regina Peace Council

Tamara Lorincz, PhD candidate, Balsillie School of International Affairs, Wilfrid Laurier University (and activist)

Kevin MacKay, Professor, Mohawk College of Applied Arts and Technology

Harinder Mahil, Union Representative, Vancouver, BC

Robbie Mahood, Family Physician, member of Socialist Action

Izabella Marengo, danse contemporaine, vice-présidente des Artistes pour la Paix

Robin Matthews, poet, professor, political activist

Donna Mergler, professeure emerita, Université du Québec à Montréal

André Michel, artiste multi-disciplinaire, président national ex-officio des Artistes pour la Paix

Rabbi David Mivasair

Christian-P. Morin, webmestre et membre du C.A. des Artistes pour la Paix

Michèle Nevert, professeur titulaire, Université du Québec à Montréal, ex-présidente du Syndicat des Professeurs

Bich N’Guyen, MD, FRCPC, Chef, service ès pathologie, grappe Optilab Montréal-CHUM

Éric Notebaert MD, Association Canadienne des Médecins pour l’Environnement

Isabel Orellana, professeure, Centre de recherche en éducation et formation relatives à l’environnement et à l’écocitoyenneté- Centr’ERE, Université du Québec à Montréal

Leo Panitch, Emeritus Professor of Politics, York University

John Philpot, International lawyer, Member of the Consultative Council of the American Association of Jurists

France Piché

V. Ramana, Professor, School of Public Policy and Global Affairs, University of British Columbia.

Denis Rancourt, PhD, researcher, Ontario Civil Liberties Association

Judi Richards, Artiste pour la Paix

Yvon Rivard, écrivain, professeur honoraire à l’université McGill

Karen Rodman, Exec Director, Just Peace Advocates

Rob Rolfe, poet

Herman Rosenfeld, retired Canadian Auto Workers Staffperson and Worker Educator

Dimitri Roussopoulos, Mouvement pour le Désarmement Nucléaire et la Paix, author and book publisher (Black Rose Books 50e anniversaire)

Sid Ryan, Past President, Ontario Federation of Labour

Céline Saint-Pierre, professeure sociologue émérite à l’UQAM

Richard Sanders, founder, Coalition to Oppose the Arms Trade

Samir Saul, professeur d’histoire, Université de Montréal

Lucie Sauvé, directrice du Centre de recherche en éducation et formation relatives à l’environnement et à l’écocitoyenneté, Université du Québec à Montréal

Sid Shniad, founding member, Independent Jewish Voices Canada

William Sloan, vice-président des Artistes pour la Paix et exécutif MQP

Ken Stone, Executive Member, Syria Solidarity Movement; Treasurer, Hamilton Coalition To Stop The War

Itrath Syed, PhD Candidate, Simon Fraser University

Phil Taylor, host, The Taylor Report,

Henry-Evans Tenbrinke, Executive Member, CURC Hamilton/Halton

Louise Vandelac, Ph.D. Professeure titulaire, Département de sociologie et Institut des sciences de l’environnement de l’UQAM Co-rédactrice en chef de VertigO, la revue électronique en sciences de l’environnement Chercheure Pôle risques, MRSH Université de Caen Normandie, Chercheure CINBIOSE, CIRODD, CENTREAU, RRSPQ, RISUQ Directrice du CREPPA, UQAM

Dr. Maria Paez Victor, Canadian, Latin American and Caribbean Policy Centre

Larry Wasslen, président, Ottawa Peace Council

Paul Weinberg, journalist and author, Hamilton

Patricia Willis, Denman Island Peace Group

Theresa Wolfwood, Director, Barnard Boecker Centre Foundation, Victoria, BC

Thomas Woodley, President, Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East

Claudio Zanchettin, professeur de philosophie retraité

Greta Zarro, Organizing Director, World BEYOND War

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