The Russian state-owned Sputnik News has come out with a piece blasting Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s new foreign affairs minister, Chrystia Freeland, and framing her appointment as a “catastrophe for Canadian-Russian relations.”
Posted early Saturday afternoon, the copy quotes University of Montreal history professor Michael J. Carley who slams the new minister as a “hater of Putin” and “Russophobe.”
“This appointment is a catastrophe for Canadian-Russian relations, I cannot understand why the government would have selected her to be minister for external affairs with her stated position with respect to Russia, Crimea, and Ukraine. She’s a Russophobe, a hater of Putin, of Russian politics,” Carley is quoted as saying.
Freeland replaced former foreign affairs minister and longtime Liberal MP Stephane Dion on Tuesday in a major cabinet shuffle viewed as a strategic effort by the Trudeau government to better align their front-bench strength with ministers who can best protect Canadian trade interests from incoming US President-elect Donald Trump.
However, Freeland’s appointment also raised questions about what the move signalled about how Trudeau plans to address growing concerns about Russian belligerence and interference.
Freeland, who is of Ukrainian descent, was banned from Russia in 2014 after the Kremlin added 13 Canadian policymakers to its sanctions list in retaliation for Western sanctions imposed over its invasion and annexation of Crimea.
During her career as a journalist, she worked in both Ukraine and Russia in roles such as Moscow bureau chief and Eastern Europe correspondent for the Financial Times, and has been a vocal critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The day after Freeland was named to the portfolio, Russian media reported the Kremlin would be willing to lift the ban on it in exchange for Canada lifting its sanctions against Russia over Crimea.
The Canadian government promptly dismissed that idea.
Author: Amanda Connolly