Canada will lift sanctions against Iran: Dion
Josh Dehaas, CTVNews.ca
Published Tuesday, January 26, 2016 3:49PM EST
Last Updated Tuesday, January 26, 2016 9:34PM EST
The federal government intends to move ahead with lifting sanctions against Iran and normalizing relations with the country, Foreign Affairs Minister Stephane Dion said Tuesday during question period.
Dion made the comment in response to a question from Conservative Foreign Affairs Critic Tony Clement, who referenced a report that said Bombardier was doing business in Iran “despite the fact Canada has sanctions in place.”
“Does Bombardier know something that the rest of Canada doesn’t?” Clement asked. “Has the government already lifted sanctions against Iran?”
Dion said “The UN has asked for the sanctions to be lifted … so that Iran doesn’t use nuclear technology for military purposes,” adding, “with our eyes open we are going to respond to this report from the United Nations.”
Conservative MP Peter Kent then asked whether, in light of Iran’s support for the Assad regime in Syria and its threats against Israel, “the government (will) abandon plans to normalize relations with Iran and keep sanctions in place?”
Dion responded that the former government’s approach to Iran was “not good for the people of Iran … for the promotion of human rights … for our strategic interests in the region … for Israel.”
“We will change this policy,” Dion said.
Dion did not say when the sanctions will be lifted, telling reporters outside the House of Commons, “We’ll do it in a speedily fashion, but we’ll do it effectively.”
Dion called the Conservatives’ approach “ideological and irresponsible.”
“We think when you have a disagreement with a regime you don’t pull out, you work harder,” he told reporters. “It’s what our allies did in negotiating with Iran an agreement that is good for the world.”
Dion added that leaving sanctions in place now that countries like the U.S. and European Union have lifted them would affect business in Canada.
Dion did not say whether sanctions would be lifted on the civil aviation industry, allowing Bombardier to sell to Iran, but he did say, “if Airbus is able to do it, why would Bombardier (not be) able to do it?”
Iran said two days ago that it will order 114 planes from France-based Airbus.
International trade lawyer Lawrence Herman said there are plenty of Canadian businesses looking to enter the Iranian market, including technology providers, service providers and engineering firms.
However, Herman said that the UN sanctions Dion referred to lifting Tuesday aren’t the only ones Canada has in place against Iran, and that it’s not yet clear whether other sanctions will also be lifted.
“There are still some tricky waters to navigate to make sure no Canadian company runs afoul of existing sanctions,” he said.
In addition to the UN sanctions, the previous Conservative government closed its embassy in Tehran in 2012 and passed the Justice for Victims of Terrorism Act, which allows victims of terrorism to sue Iran.
Interim Conservative leader Rona Ambrose urged the Trudeau government last week to be cautious in its approach.
“I think we should still be very suspicious about what their intentions are with their nuclear program and really the onus is on them … to prove to the world that they’re a trustworthy partner,” Ambrose told reporters last Monday.
“The other issue about taking sanctions away is,” she added, “once those sanctions are removed, Iran is going to flood the market with cheap oil which has a huge effect on the Canadian economy.”