Sunday, 20 September, 2020

Iranian-Canadians, Liberal MP call on Ottawa to re-establish relations with Iran

One of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal MPs has joined forces with the Iranian Canadian Congress in pushing the government to re-establish diplomatic relations with Iran and reopen embassies in both countries.

The petition containing more than 5,600 names is sponsored by Richmond Hill, Ont., MP Majid Jowhari, who says it will serve “as an asset in furthering the government’s agenda.”

“Our government’s position is that Canada severing ties with Iran had no positive consequences for anyone, not for Canadians, not for the people of Iran, not for our Canadian allies, and not for global security,” Jowhari told reporters during a news conference on Parliament Hill.

“An absence of diplomatic representation hurts the people of both countries,” he added.

Bijan Ahmadi, president of the Iranian Canadian Congress, said that ever since the former Conservative government cut ties with Iran in 2012, expelling Iranian diplomats from Canada, Ottawa has been unable to talk directly to Iran.

“Canada has to rely on other countries, in this case, Italy, to do the communication for us,” he said. “This is not a good policy. Canada, to protect the interests of its citizens, needs to directly talk to the Iranian authorities.”

“We can only ask our allies to take this matter to a certain extent,” he added.

Without that ability, Iranian-Canadians cannot get their passports renewed or secure birth and death certificates, said Ahmadi. It also means that Iranians in Iran cannot secure visas to visit relatives in Canada and Canadians travelling in Iran have no consular services should they need them, he said.

Relations already beginning to warm

During the election campaign, Justin Trudeau made it known that if he was elected he would seek to re-engage with Iran, not because disagreements were over between the two countries, but because diplomatic isolation was ineffective, he argued.

In February, Foreign Affairs Minister Stéphane Dion began that process, announcing the government would amend “broad-reaching autonomous sanctions against Iran to allow for a controlled economic re-engagement, including lifting the broad ban on financial services, imports and exports.”

Other sanctions related to nuclear proliferation and ballistic missiles have remained in place.

In June, Dion said talks between the two countries have started and that things would proceed step by step “at the official level, in neutral territory.”

In an email Thursday, global affairs spokesperson Jocelyn Sweet said “a precise timeline has not been determined” for the restoration of full diplomatic relations with Iran.

Source: cbcnews

Photo: Richmond Hill MP Majid Jowhari says the e-petition he has sponsored, calling on the government to re-establish relations with Iran, will serve ‘as an asset in furthering the government’s agenda.’ (CBC)            

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