House of Commons
Please note: the House of Commons is adjourned until April 11, 2016.
Please note: the Senate is adjourned until the week of April 11, 2016.
Non-Nuclear Sanctions Against Iran Bill
Second Reading—Debate Adjourned
Hon. David Tkachuk moved second reading of Bill S-219, An Act to deter Iran-sponsored terrorism, incitement to hatred, and human rights violations.
He said: Honourable senators, last month the Government of Canada rightly announced the lifting of some sanctions against Iran and, in doing so, it promised to maintain its firm commitment to the human rights of Iranians. It also promised to oppose Iran’s support for terrorist organizations, its threats against Israel and its ballistic missile program, while monitoring Iran’s compliance with its obligations under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.
I’m pleased to introduce a bill that will help the government to achieve most of these very objectives. It will hold Iran accountable on terrorism, human rights and incitement to genocide, and all this without impairing the government’s ability to engage with Iran.
Because, as we all know, it was engagement and not sanctions, the ones we agreed to lift if they would agree to abandon their pursuit of nuclear weapons, that induced Iran to sign the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.
This proposed legislation, officially called “An Act to deter Iran-sponsored terrorism, incitement to hatred, and human rights violations,” has three primary components.
The bill provides that Canada’s current sanctions regime against Iran cannot be eased unless Iran ceases its terrorist activity and incitement to hatred and demonstrates significant improvement in respecting the human rights of its citizens.
The bill provides for an ongoing analysis of the incidence of terrorist activity, support of terrorism, incitement to hatred and human rights violations emanating from Iran, and the identification of Iranian officials who are responsible for such activities by requiring the publication of an annual report.
The bill requires the government to consider whether to recommend that the entire Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, the IRGC, be named as a listed terrorist group under the Criminal Code.
Beyond Iran’s nuclear conduct, which rightly or wrongly has become legitimized under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the Canadian Parliament has recognized three other toxic threats emanating from Iran: the massive human rights abuses; state sponsorship of international terrorism; and state- sanctioned incitement to hate and genocide. I’m going to address each of these threats in turn.
The violation of human rights in Iran is widespread and well documented. They have not lessened under President Hassan Rouhani’s tenure, despite his reputation as a “moderate.” They include the stoning of women; the execution of children and homosexuals; the imprisonment of journalists, bloggers and human rights defenders; the persecution of ethnic and religious minorities, including the Baha’i people; and the criminalization of political dissent. The IRGC has been a principal perpetrator of these and other offences.
The rape, torture and murder of Canadian-Iranian citizen Zahra Kazemi in 2003 represented a defining and destructive moment in Canada-Iran relations. Since then, Canada has been a global leader in focusing attention at home and abroad on the plight of the Iranian people.
Every year, Canada introduces a resolution at the United Nations General Assembly on the situation of human rights in Iran. In Ottawa, numerous House of Commons and Senate committees have studied the issue and put recommendations forward.
In 2012, this chamber called attention to the egregious human rights abuses in Iran, particularly the use of torture and the cruel and inhuman treatment of unlawfully incarcerated political prisoners. The Iranian human rights file is one of those rare causes where members of all of Canada’s federal political parties can find common ground. Holding Iran accountable for its vicious, violent and even fatal human rights abuses should be unanimously supported.
Let’s not be fooled by the recent election of so-called moderates in Iran. As Terry Glavin wrote recently in the National Post:
It’s rubbish . . . .
. . . The regime in Iran is now more confident, wealthier, more expansionist and belligerent than at any time since the bloody decade of the 1980s.
In regard to terrorism, Tehran has been implicated in terrorist attacks in Beirut in 1983, Berlin in 1992, Buenos Aires in 1992 and 1994, and Bulgaria in 2012. That is without mentioning the failed plots to bomb New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport in 2007 and a restaurant in Washington, D.C. in 2011.
Iran regards terrorism as an essential element of its foreign policy, military strategy and religious revolution. Responsibility for executing this terrorist policy has largely been delegated to the IRGC and its overseas branch, the Quds Force, which maintains operations in dozens of countries.
It is the IRGC, in cahoots with Russia, that is currently Bashar al-Assad in slaughtering and displacing millions of Syrian civilians. It is the IRGC that also provided assistance to the Taliban and al-Qaeda during the post-9/11 mission in Afghanistan in which Canadian soldiers were injured or killed.
The IRGC Quds Force, Hamas and Hezbollah — all listed terrorist entities in Canada — have received critical support from Iran.
Even U.S. President Obama, who was extremely eager to reach a nuclear deal with Iran and was therefore willing to overlook some Iranian transgressions, stated in an August 2015 interview that:
Iran is a state sponsor of terrorism. It helps prop up the Assad regime in Syria. It supports Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in the Gaza Strip. It aids the Houthi rebels in Yemen. So countries in the region are right to be deeply concerned about Iran’s activities, especially its support for violent proxies inside the borders of other nations.
It is imperative that Canada continue to hold Iran to account for its terrorist involvement. For as long as Iran continues to act as a state sponsor of terror, Canada should continue to list Iran as such and to maintain current sanctions against the regime.
Finally, genocide. Let me quote former Liberal MP and Minister of Justice Irwin Cotler, an authority on the subject of Iranian state-sanctioned incitement to genocide. He notes the Supreme Court of Canada’s finding that:
The genocidal horrors of the Holocaust were made possible by the deliberate incitement of hatred against the Jewish people and other minorities.
State Parties to the Genocide Convention already understood this in 1948, in the wake of the Holocaust, such that the Convention prohibits the crime of “Direct and public incitement to commit genocide.” Incitement itself is the crime — whether or not genocide follows. The objective is to prevent genocides before they occur, by sounding the alarm on the type of state-sanctioned incendiary incitement that has in the past led us down the path to tragedy and atrocity.
The Iranian regime’s criminal incitement has been persistent, pervasive and pernicious. The 21st century begins with Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei calling for “the annihilation of the Jewish State.” It was followed by the parading in the streets of Tehran of a Shihab-3 missile draped in the emblem “Wipe Israel off the map, as the Imam says.” It has continued with the use of . . . metaphors referring to Jews as “filthy bacteria,” and Israel as “a cancer that must be removed,” reminiscent of the Nazis calling the Jews “vermin” and the Rwandan Hutus calling the Tutsis “cockroaches,” the whole as a prologue to and justification for a genocide foretold.
“Never again,” honourable senators. Civilized nations made that promise following the genocidal crimes of Nazi Germany, yet not one state party to the genocide convention, including Canada, has undertaken any of its mandated responsibilities to prevent and punish incitement to genocide. This, even though an All- Party Report of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs of the Parliament of Canada found that “Iran has already committed the crime of incitement to genocide prohibited under the Genocide Convention.”
The least we can do is to ensure the existing sanctions against Iran are not removed until the country stops committing the crimes of incitement to genocide.
Honourable senators, Canada supports the people of Iran in their efforts to advance democracy, human rights and the rule of law. It aspires to have a mutually beneficial relationship with Iran that is based on respect for human rights and the rule of law. We can all agree that Canada must find ways to pressure Iran to end its support for global terrorism, active support for the Bashar al- Assad regime in Syria, incitement to hatred and the vast system of domestic repression at home.
My bill tries to do just that by tying the termination of existing sanctions against the Iranian regime under the Special Economic Measures Act to requirements that the regime show demonstrable improvements to the aforementioned area.
Honourable senators, I ask that you support this bill. Thank you very much.
(On motion of Senator Fraser, debate adjourned.)
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