December 13, 2017: Bahram Ghasemi, Iran’s foreign ministry spokesperson, announced that Canada and Iran will hold an “expert level” meeting to discuss the re-establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries.
Harper’s Conservatives viewed Iran as a significant threat to international peace and security due to the Iranian regime’s nuclear ambitions, its continued support for global terrorism, its repeated calls for the destruction of Israel and its disregard for basic human rights.
In 2012, Canada suspended diplomatic relations with Iran, expelled all Iranian diplomats and formally listed Iran as a state sponsor of terrorism under the Justice for Victims of Terrorism Act. The decision to suspend diplomatic relations was based on Iran’s support for support of Syria’s Bashar al-Assad’s regime, its failure to comply with UN resolutions on its nuclear program and its genocidal threats against Israel.
During the 2015 federal election campaign, Trudeau promised that, if elected, he will move to normalize relations with Iran and reopen the Canadian mission in Tehran. On July 21, 2016 during an appearance at a Montreal synagogue, Trudeau told the Jewish community that it “would be nice” to resume diplomatic relations with Iran.
In May, 2016, after a two-year cessation, Iran renewed its $70 million-a-year financial support for Palestinian Islamic Jihad, which has been listed as a terrorist organization by the Canadian government since 2002.
According to Public Safety Canada, Palestinian Islamic Jihad is one of the most violent Palestinian terrorist groups whose main objective is the destruction of Israel.
Over the course of the past decade, most Islamic Jihad attacks have taken the form of suicide bombings or rocket firings into Israel, including one of the worst terror attacks in Israeli history when two Islamic Jihad operatives blew themselves up on January 22, 1995 at a bus stop in Beit Lid Junction, killing 19 people and wounding 61.
During a recent visit to Tehran, Islamic Jihad leader lauded Iran as “the only country that supports the uprising and helps the martyrs’ families.”
Iran’s resumption of terror financing to Palestinian Jihad comes at an inconvenient time for Trudeau, who is increasingly coming under fire for pushing to re-open the Canadian Embassy in Tehran.
Omar Alghabra, the Saudi-born Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, fended off the criticism of Trudeau’s foreign policy and defended the Liberals during a debate in Parliament on May 6, 2016. Alghabra told the Speaker of the House that re-engaging with Iran will be “beneficial for Canada” and if Canada wants to be effective in promoting human rights, it will have to “engage with our allies with our eyes wide open”, and that would include Iran.
Trudeau has previously stated that the federal government is aware of fact that Iran is a state sponsor of global terrorism, but believes that engagement with the Islamic Republic will eventually have a positive effect on the Iranian regime’s foreign policy of and help the Iranian people.