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Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs Robert Oliphant rises during Question Period on Nov. 21, in Ottawa.Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press

Ottawa has yet to sell off any Russian assets seized as a result of sanctions in response to Moscow’s assault on Ukraine, seven months after announcing its intention to take such action.

In April, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government said it would use a 2022 budget implementation act to give Canada the power to forfeit, or sell, assets of foreigners seized under sanctions law. This would enable Canada to pay out the proceeds to help reconstruct Ukraine or to compensate those affected by Moscow’s military assault on its neighbour.

But a statement from the federal government this week indicates that Ottawa is still trying to figure out what to sell off – and even what to seize.

“The government is actively engaged in identifying and analyzing potential target assets, including building solid evidentiary packages to support seizure and forfeiture orders,” Robert Oliphant, parliamentary secretary to Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly, said in an answer to an order-paper question by Conservative MP Eric Melillo.

“Such steps are crucial to the successful implementation of this new regime.”

Mr. Oliphant described what he called “a whole-of-government effort” that he said is under way to operationalize the new power and to “move forward with respect to the first potential seizure of assets.”

Ms. Joly’s department declined to elaborate on the parliamentary secretary’s statement Tuesday. Press secretary Adrien Blanchard said he had nothing to add to Mr. Oliphant’s statement.

As of Nov. 7, $121.9-million of assets in Canada have been effectively frozen as a result of this year’s sanctions on Russia, according to the RCMP. That number has declined since June when the RCMP said the total was $123-million.

Orest Zakydalsky, senior political adviser to the Ukrainian Canadian Congress, said he’s puzzled as to why this is the case, even as Ottawa has continued to slap sanctions on more Russian individuals and entities.

“We find it difficult to understand why, when Canada is adding more and more targets to sanctions, that the amount of assets frozen remains essentially static,” Mr. Zakydalsky said.

Michael Chong, the Conservative foreign affairs critic, said he’s not surprised Canada has failed to sell any of the seized assets, saying Mr. Trudeau’s government “is good at announcing sanctions but poor at enforcing sanctions.”

Mr. Chong said Canada is not doing enough to require the publication of beneficial ownership of companies, saying a federal effort falls short because it will not cover provincially incorporated firms. Also, he said, anti-money laundering and anti-terrorism financial rules are not sufficient to cover Canadian mortgage issuers that are not banks.

The legislative changes that received royal assent in June “allow Canadian courts to order seized or restrained property in Canada that is owned, held or controlled by sanctioned individuals and entities to be forfeited to the government of Canada,” Mr. Oliphant’s statement said. “Funds resulting from asset forfeiture may be used to compensate victims of human rights abuses, restore international peace and security or rebuild affected states.”

Separately, the federal government announced Tuesday it was slapping more sanctions on Belarus, where President Alexander Lukashenko has helped Russia’s war against Ukraine.

The latest sanctions targeted 22 Belarusian officials, “including those complicit in the stationing and transport of Russian military personnel and equipment involved in the invasion of Ukraine,” as well as 16 additional Belarusian companies involved in military manufacturing, technology, engineering, banking and railway transportation.

Mr. Lukashenko retained his hold on power in Belarus after a disputed election in August, 2020, despite widespread allegations of voting fraud, by crushing mass demonstrations against him. His only staunch ally has been Russian President Vladimir Putin, and he depends on Moscow politically and economically.

Russian troops and equipment massed in Belarus before the February assault on Ukraine.

“By letting its territory serve as a launching pad for Russia’s egregious attacks against Ukraine, the Belarusian leadership is enabling the Russian regime’s human rights violations,” the Canadian government said in its statement Tuesday.