Iran may have won its World Cup soccer match against Morocco last week, but it lost practically all its standing in Canada. It was an intense two weeks in parliament before the House of Commons adjourns for the summer break. Parliamentarians stayed up into the wee hours of the night debating and mainly agreeing on Canada’s future relationship with Iran.
Day after day, the Official Opposition pressed the government for clarity about Canada’s position vis-a-vis Iran. This followed Prime Minister Trudeau’s rebuke of Israel in May over Gaza, and the revelation that Iran was financing the Hamas-led violent protests. Combined with its human rights abuse and suppression of protests, Canada’s hinting of warming relations with Iran was unconscionable for many Canadians.
Enter rising star Conservative MP Garnett Genuis, deputy shadow minister for Foreign Affairs from Sherwood Park – Fort Saskatchewan. Genuis proposed a resolution to condemn the Iranian regime for “its ongoing sponsorship of terrorism around the world, including instigating violent attacks on the Gaza border” as well as “recent statements made by the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei calling for genocide against Jewish people.”
The resolution urged the Canadian government to “abandon its current plan and immediately cease any and all negotiations or discussions with the Islamic Republic of Iran to restore diplomatic relations” as well as “immediately designate the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a listed terrorist entity under the Criminal Code of Canada.”
And even while Genuis’ resolution passed on both sides of the aisle, the Leader of the Official Opposition, Andrew Scheer smartly pressed the prime minister to reiterate Canada’s position for the world (and Iran) to hear, and here is what Trudeau said: “We deeply oppose Iran’s support for terrorist organizations, its threat towards Israel, its ballistic program and its support for the murderous Assad regime. We will always defend human rights and hold Iran to account for its actions. We led a resolution at the UN in November calling on Iran to comply with its international human rights obligations. We continue to maintain sanctions on Iran, which include restrictions on sensitive goods and a list of individuals subject to asset freezes where all transactions involving property are prohibited.”
Fantastic! What was achieved by both parties is a resolute and re-affirmation of a standing Canadian policy against Iran. While Canada’s position has become more dubious – particularly with respect to voting on Israel at the UN where it abstained on one resolution against it last week – the action by Canada sent a chilling message to Tehran.
Iran’s human rights violations are well noted particularly by the LGBTQ community, women’s rights advocates and families (including Canadian) who have relatives unlawfully incarcerated in its notorious Evin Prison. Protests against the oppressive regime by Iranians for Iranians are still taking place in cities and towns in Iran and around the world. Its important for democracies like Canada to stand with them.
Tehran was taken off guard by Canada’s strong stance. In a lengthy defensive article on its state-run media (PressTV), Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif threatened that “these policies will be to Canada’s detriment and will not serve international peace and security.” Strangely the article denied Iran’s involvement in terrorism, even while it supports Hezbollah, Hamas and Assad’s murderous regime.
Canada’s move was also noted by Washington. Secretary of State Pompeo said, “US welcomes Canada’s decision to strongly condemn Iran for ongoing sponsorship of terror and to add IRGC to Canada’s list of terrorist entities. Iranians are standing up to the corrupt regimes abuses. We support them and call on other nations to hold Iran’s leaders accountable.”
Canada’s leading parties rarely agree on any particular issue. On this matter, they should be commended for coming together and for standing up for Canadian values of human rights, peace and democracy. Even while every NDP and Bloc member voted against the resolution, the Liberals and Conservatives ultimately did what is in the best interest for Canada and the people of Iran.
With enough pressure, one day Iran will be free.