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Harper Has Destroyed Canada–Russia Relations

Relations between the two countries have been strained recently, but a historical overview shows it was not always so.

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Canada–Russia relations have ranged from amiable to openly hostile. For a country supposedly keen on its role as an international peacekeeper, Canada has failed to impress the world with its recent position on Ukraine.

A brief history lesson will show that Canada can play an intermediary role in de-escalating East–West tensions and has done so before; but instead, the Harper administration has chosen to follow NATO’s lead and refused to work towards any peaceful resolution to recent conflicts.

<figcaption>Stephen Harper tells Putin to “get out of Ukraine”</figcaption>
Stephen Harper tells Putin to “get out of Ukraine”

So, in this context, I’ve decided to recap some of Canada’s historical relations with its far-far northern neighbor: from the good, to the bad and the ugly.    


  • Canadian lend-lease aid to Soviet Union during WWII: a total of 125 vessels left the port of Vancouver for Russia, carrying 126,000 tons of flour and wheat along with industrial equipment worth just over $23 million.
  • In the early 1980s Prime Minister Trudeau moved to ease nuclear tensions between the United States and the USSR through a variety of diplomatic trips. Eventually East–West relations eased and opposing leaders of the U.S. and USSR released a joint statement similar to Trudeau’s suggestions: “Nuclear wars can never be won and therefore must never be fought.”
    Image icon vladimir_putin_with_jean_chretien-1.jpg
  • Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien played a key role in Russia’s integration into the G7 summit. Chretien was later awarded Russia’s Order of Friendship in 2014 for his friendly engagement with the Russian Federation.




  • In 2013 Russia imports are at a historic low point for Canada.Imports stood at $864 million, while exports also continued to fall.
  • On 17 March 2014 Canada begun a series of sanctions against Russia.The list includes 37 travel bans and 17 economic sanctions on Russian/Ukrainian individuals and entities.
  • In August 2014, Russia places food import bans on Canadian goods, in response to sanctions. Bans gave Russian farmers a chance to compete with Western goods for market share.


  • September 1945: Igor Sergeyevich Gouzenko defected from Soviet Union to Canada. Gouzenko managed to take with him 109 documents detailing covert espionage activity in the West by USSR agents.
  • April 2014: Canada joined NATO military posturing in Eastern Europe with Operation Reassurance. The operation includes an air, maritime and land taskforce presence.
  • November 2014: in the midst of a G20 Summit PM Harper made sophomoric move and confronted Putin, telling him to “get out of Ukraine.” Putin’s response: “That’s impossible, because we’re not there.”
  • Dec 2014: HMSC Toronto departed for Black Sea to participate in NATO exercises. The warship had a close encounter with Russian frigates while fully equipped and capable for “anything up to full-scale war.”

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