Canadians Overwhelmingly Support Seizing the Canadian Assets of Corrupt Foreign Officials Who Are Violating Human Rights in Russia and Iran

This opinion poll was commissioned by WRMC Member and Independent Canadian Senator Ratna Omidvar along with her colleague Sen. Donna Dasco. Learn more about the WRMC’s anti-corruption work and repurposing assets for the forcibly displaced.

OTTAWA — A majority of Canadians support seizing the Canadian assets of foreign officials who are violating human rights, and using these assets to help victims, according to a new public opinion poll.

The poll shows that 90 percent of Canadians support (76%) or somewhat support (14%) seizing the Canadian assets of Russian officials that are leading the war in Ukraine and using these assets to help the victims of this war.

Similarly, 90 percent of Canadians support (74%) or somewhat support (16%) seizing the Canadian assets of Iranian officials that are violating internationally recognized human rights and using these assets to help the victims of this repression.

The poll was commissioned jointly by independent senators Donna Dasko and Ratna Omidvar and is based on a national sample of 1,025 adult Canadians surveyed by Nanos Research from November 27th to 29th, 2022. The survey has a margin of error of ±3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

Support for seizing and using the Canadian assets of these foreign officials is high in all regions of the country, among both men and women, and across all age groups. Only six percent of Canadians oppose the seizure of the Russian officials’ assets and five percent oppose the seizure of the Iranian assets.

In 2017, Canada adopted a version of the “Magnitsky Law”, which gives the government the ability to freeze the domestic assets of foreign nationals who have engaged in gross violations of human rights.  Recently, a new measure was passed by Parliament in June, 2022 as part of Bill C-19 that enhanced two of Canada’s sanction regimes, the Magnitsky Act and the Special Economic Measures Act (SEMA). The enhancements are based on a bill introduced by Senator Omidvar called the Frozen Asset Repurposing Act (FARA). The new provisions in Bill C-19 allow the government to go beyond freezing the assets of corrupt foreign officials by confiscating and redirecting them to victims of persecution and oppression. 

“For far too long, corrupt Iranian officials have acted with impunity. They have not only stolen massive amounts of wealth from their own people, but they have also oppressed and disenfranchised them. They have subjugated women and girls to the point that men dictate what they can wear, think, read, or study. Calling them out is not enough. If Canada is serious about helping the freedom of Iranian women in a meaningful way, then it must apply these measures to sanctioned Iranian individuals and entities,” said Senator Omidvar.

“As the illegal Russian invasion of Ukraine enters its tenth month, Canadians remain unwavering in their support for measures to sanction the perpetrators and assist the victims of this war,” said Senator Dasko. “There should be no hesitation on the part of Government to take strong action to make these perpetrators pay.”

Read the poll methodology with question wording.


  • Ratna Omidvar

    The Honourable Ratna Omidvar is an internationally recognized voice on migration, diversity and inclusion. She came to Canada from Iran in 1981 and her own experiences of displacement, integration and citizen engagement have been the foundation of her work. Ms. Omidvar is a Director at the Century Initiative, a Director at the Samara Centre for Democracy and Chair Emerita for the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council. Ms. Omidvar is a Member of the Order of Canada and a recipient of the Cross of the Order of Merit from Germany.