In Canada, Law Meant To Punish Putin’s Cronies May Be Used Against Trump

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Some Canadian officials are advocating using the Magnitsky Act against President Trump in response to his tariffs.

As Canadian officials continue mulling over potential responses to President Donald Trump’s trade policy, one suggestion – well outside the bounds of usual – could see the president’s personal business effectively hit with sanctions.

According to Business Insider, social entrepreneur and former Canadian diplomat Scott Gillmore’s idea of employing Canada's Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act – also known as the Magnistky Act – has gained steam.

"I propose that instead of taxing the import of American serviettes, we tax Trump," Gilmore said. "In the spirit of the Magnitsky Act, Canada and the western allies come together to collectively pressure the only pain point that matters to this President: his family and their assets."

The law, which originated after the death of Sergei Magnitsky while he was jailed in Russia for uncovering the largest tax fraud in Russian history, allows the government to “punish foreign officials engaged in corruption by allowing the Canadian government to crack down on their businesses.”

But its use in response to Trump’s tariffs would be unprecedented and likely to cause problems, some say.

Jesse Goldman, an international trade lawyer at the Canadian law firm Borden Ladner Gervais, told Business Insider that although using corruption laws to go after Trump's businesses is "within the realm of possibility," it would require a government to prove that the Trump Organization is linked to business actively engaged in corruption.

"That would be an absolute bombshell, it would rely on someone effectively blowing the whistle on some of those past business dealings," Goldman said.

The other issue: Such a move would inevitably lead to irreparable damage on the US-Canada relationship. Sanctioning Trump directly would likely scuttle any negotiations to remove the current tariffs and could provoke substantial retaliation from the US president.

Canadian MP Even Weir, who took the idea to Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland, said the move could eventually become necessary.

"I can see how it would be seen as a radical measure, but we are confronted with a radical reality from the Trump administration," Weir told Maclean's.

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