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Trudeau attempts to talk tough by declaring ban on Russian oil — but Canada hasn't imported Russian crude in years

The Furnace
David Kawai/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Among the myriad criticisms of President Joe Biden's handling of the Russia-Ukraine situation has been his refusal to announce a ban on imports of Russian crude oil. Though the U.S. has the capacity to supply its own oil, Democrat-imposed restrictions have severely limited our domestic supply and forced the country to become more reliant upon foreign oil imports, including more than 500,000 barrels of Russian crude oil every day.

Despite the fact that oil sales are a major income stream for Moscow — and are thereby funding the Russian attacks on Ukraine — Biden has elected to continue buying Russian oil.

But Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau has no such hang-up and on Monday announced a ban on imports of Russian crude.

“Today, we are announcing our intention to ban all imports of crude oil from Russia, an industry that has benefited President Putin and his oligarchs greatly," Trudeau declared, Bloomberg reported.

And he got positive headlines for his stance:

  • Reuters: "Canada to supply anti-tank weapons to Ukraine, ban Russian oil imports"
  • BBC: "Canada to ban imports of crude oil from Russia"
  • Times of Israel: "Trudeau announces Canada ban on Russian oil imports"
  • Canada's Global News: "Premier Kenney encouraged by Trudeau ban on Russian oil, wants Biden to follow suit"
  • Bloomberg: "Trudeau Says Canada to Ban Russian Crude Oil Imports"
  • Calgary Herald: "Canada banning all oil imports from Russia, sending anti-tank weapons to Ukraine"

However, Trudeau's brave stance was nothing but symbolism: Canada has not imported Russian crude oil in years.

In a short update at the very bottom of Bloomberg's report, there's this line: "Canada hasn’t imported any crude oil from Russia since 2019, Natural Resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson told lawmakers on Monday."

And though Trudeau did admit in passing during his announcement that "Canada has imported very little amounts in recent years," many reports hailed the PM's announcement but glossed over his admission and hyped the "message" Trudeau was sending to Russian strongman Vladimir Putin and his lackeys in the Kremlin.

For example, the Global News echoed the PM's statement that "Canada is not a major importer of oil from Russia" while linking to a government report showing that not only is Canada "not a major importer," but had not imported any Russian crude since 2019 — something that neither Trudeau nor the newspaper bothered to point out.

Reuters' and the BBC's reporting skipped over the fact that Canada has bought no Russian crude in years and instead highlighted data on the $228 million worth of Russian energy Canada imported in 2021, making Trudeau's announcement appear more serious than it was.

The BBC even included a note in its report on Trudeau's "ban" that a refusal to buy Russia's oil and gas would have a major impact on Russia.

Which is correct. But Trudeau's ban is not actually on gas and other non-crude-oil energy imports. His announcement had no bearing on other energy imports.

Turns out, as the Wall Street Journal noted, Trudeau's declaration is expected to have zero impact on the Canadian economy.

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