Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe says he’s not calling on Ottawa to sanction a Russian oligarch who’s a major shareholder in a U.K.-incorporated multinational manufacturing company that operates a steel mill in Regina.
The British government, claiming he’s using Evraz to help destabilize Ukraine during Russia’s invasion, has sanctioned Roman Abramovich over his close ties with the Kremlin.
Evraz has denied the allegations in a statement on its website.
Saskatchewan’s Opposition says the flow of money to Abramovich must be stopped and it wants the federal government to sanction the company.
“They need to be cut off their sources of funding, so Putin isn’t able to bankroll his illegal invasion of Ukraine,” NDP Leader Ryan Meili said Thursday.
Jason Kung, a spokesman for Global Affairs Canada, said the federal government continues to work with countries to assess potential targets that would have an impact on the Russian government.
“All options for future measures remain on the table and will be assessed alongside allies and partners,” Kung said in a statement.
The federal government hasn’t taken sanctions on Abramovich off the table, but Moe said his Saskatchewan Party government is not looking into options to assume ownership of the mill, which is one of Regina’s largest employers.
“We are part of a global economy, so we are going to see global investments in Canada and our province,” Moe said.
“However, it does beg the conversation about times of conflict and what we do on limiting investment in our nation, and possibly our province.”
Evraz also has facilities in Alberta, including in Calgary.
Moe said the British government’s decision to sanction Abramovich and the suspension of trading in Evraz shares on the London Stock Exchange won’t affect the company’s operations in Western Canada because they are disconnected from the company’s global operations.
“I think the future should look fairly bright for a company like Evraz that can provide that steel pipe ... for these pieces of infrastructure that need to be built for us to have true energy security in Saskatchewan, Canada and North America,” Moe said.
Abramovich is the largest shareholder in Evraz. He owns more than 28 per cent of the company’s capital. Three other Russian oligarchs – none of whom have been sanctioned by Canada – also own shares in Evraz.
The United Steelworkers union, which represents more than 1,000 Evraz workers in Saskatchewan and Alberta, said the company’s Regina and Calgary mills operate independently in procuring raw materials, operating production facilities and in their corporate financing.
The union hopes the federal government will avoid any sanction that could affect workers.
“Hundreds of steelworkers are employed by Evraz, and the Canadian government must consider the impacts on these workers and the local community,” Mike Day, president of Regina Local 5890, said in a statement.
“Our members come to work to produce high-quality Canadian steel used in critical infrastructure projects across the country. Their livelihoods shouldn’t be imperilled because of the actions of a foreign billionaire.”
– With files from The Associated Press
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