House of Commons
Editors Note: CPC Member Garnett Genuis presented an important opposition motion condemning Iran for its behaviour (see immediately below) in the House of Commons on Monday, June 11, 2018. We commend all the MPs who spoke in favour of the motion and encourage readers to review Hansard, and if they choose, to send emails to MPs thanking them for their interventions. Due to the length of the debate, we have only included links (below) to the full debate that took place in two large segments during the course of the day. Finally, the Motion will be voted today, June 12, 2018.
That the House: (a) strongly condemn the current regime in Iran for its ongoing sponsorship of terrorism around the world, including instigating violent attacks on the Gaza border; (b) condemn the recent statements made by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei calling for genocide against the Jewish people; (c) call on the government to (i) immediately cease any and all negotiations or discussions with the Islamic Republic of Iran to restore diplomatic relations, (ii) demand that the Iranian Regime immediately release all Canadians and Canadian permanent residents who are currently detained in Iran, including Maryam Mombeini, the widow of Professor Kavous Sayed-Emami, and Saeed Malekpour, who has been imprisoned since 2008; and (d) stand with the people of Iran and recognize that they, like all people, have a fundamental right to freedom of conscience and religion, freedom of thought, belief, opinion, and expression, including freedom of the press and other forms of communication, freedom of peaceful assembly, and freedom of association.
Editors Note: For the full transcript of the debate – including interventions by Garnett Genius (CPC); Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs Omar Alghabra (Lib); Cheryl Hardcastle(NDP); Erin O’Toole (CPC); and Steven Blaney (CPC) – click here.
After Question Period, the debate on the Iran Motion resumed. For the full transcript, including interventions by Michael Levitt (Lib); Pam Goldsmith-Jones, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Trade (Lib); Dane Lloyd (CPC); Stephanie Kusie (CPC); Anthony Housefather (Lib); Marco Mendicino (LIB); James Bezan (CPC) – click here.
Mr. Speaker, today we are debating Iran and its destabilizing influence in the world. The Iranian regime has been involved in the deaths of thousands of people, including Canadian citizens. It has been funding terror groups across the Middle East, including Hamas, which has been active recently in Gaza. Last week Iran’s supreme leader openly called for genocide against the Jewish people. My question is simple. Why does the government seek to warm relations with a regime that can only be described as tyrannical?
Mr. Speaker, let me be very clear. Our government will always defend human rights and hold Iran to account for its actions. The focus of any discussions we have with the Government of Iran will be on ensuring the return of Maryam Mombeini, that she is able to return safely to Canada, and on demanding answers in the death of Professor Seyed-Emami. Let me also be clear. Our government is committed to holding Iran to account for violations of human and democratic rights. That is why Canada led a resolution at the United Nations in November, calling on Iran to comply with its international human rights obligations.
Mr. Speaker, it sounds like the government will be supporting our motion. This is contrary to its expansion of Canadian presence in Iran. It is contrary to its desire to sell aircraft to Iran. It is contrary to one of its own members hosting delegations from Iran in Canada. Will the minister commit to supporting our motion and ceasing all dealings with the Iranian regime?
Mr. Speaker, let me be clear. We deeply oppose Iran’s support for terrorist organizations, its threats toward Israel, its ballistic missile program, and its support for the murderous Assad regime in Syria. As my colleague just said, the focus of any discussions with the Government of Iran will be on ensuring the safe return of Maryam Mombeini and to ask it questions in the suspicious death of her husband, Professor Seyed-Emami. In November, Canada led a UN resolution calling on Iran to comply with its human rights obligations. We will always hold Iran to account for its actions.
Mr. Speaker, thousands of young Canadians have been denied summer jobs because the groups that would have hired them refuse to bow to the Prime Minister‘s imposed values test. One group that ticked the PM’s attestation box is the Islamic Humanitarian Service. At the annual al-Quds’ Iranian hatefest at the Ontario legislature, Sheikh Shafiq Hudda, of this same organization, called for genocide, the eradication of Israelis. The minister claimed that the Liberals’ imposed values would protect rights. What does she say today?
Mr. Speaker, our government is very proud of the fact that it is our government that doubled the Canada summer jobs program, ensuring that over 70,000 kids each summer since we have taken office have had the opportunity to get good, quality summer jobs. All organizations that are approved through the Canada summer jobs program must adhere to the terms and conditions of the program. If in fact an organization does not adhere to those terms and conditions, it is not eligible for the reimbursement of that student’s salary. I encourage the member to bring those concerns forward to the department.
Mr. Speaker, there was an illegal protest yesterday in Toronto, where Sheik Shafiq Hudda, from the Islamic Humanitarian Service, made hateful statements calling for the eradication of the Israeli people. A police complaint was filed.However, as we now know, this organization received funding from the Liberal government through the Canada summer jobs program, in the riding represented by the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons. Promoting genocide is a crime. What does the minister have to say to this, and how can she be proud of such a blunder?
Mr. Speaker, all applicants for the Canada summer jobs program must submit an application, which is thoroughly vetted by the department. We ask that the organizations do not use their summer students in a way that would fundamentally work to undermine the rights of Canadians. That is why any organization that receives these monies and uses them in a way that does not adhere to the terms and conditions will not receive reimbursement for that summer student. I encourage the member to bring the name forward to the department.
Mr. Speaker, last week, a small historic sawmill museum in Nova Scotia said it will close its doors indefinitely because it was denied funding from the Canada summer jobs program. For the past decade, the museum has used funds to hire students for daily tours. However, this year it refused to sign the Liberals’ values test. The Liberals are forcing Canadians to say that their values are the Prime Minister‘s values, and are imposing fiscal consequences if they do not. How can the Prime Minister justify stopping funding for a non-profit, non-religious museum, and killing summer jobs for students in Nova Scotia because of his values test?
Mr. Speaker, I am incredibly proud of this government. It has put youth employment, and the goal of ensuring that young students get job experience, at the front and foremost of our plan to ensure that young people have success in the workplace. We have helped hundreds of faith-based groups, not-for-profits, businesses, and public sector groups hire students. We will meet our target of 70,000 students again this year. While the Conservative Party continues to engage in a campaign of misinformation and fear, we are ensuring that 70,000 young people have good jobs this summer that will help them in their future.
Mr. Speaker, I appreciated the opportunity last week to raise an important question about Iran’s role fomenting violence on Israel’s border, and the government’s failure to point the finger in the right direction in light of the terrible loss of life that occurred at that border. In my question, I referenced statements by the Palestinian ambassador to France, who acknowledged that “Iran is fully financing and pushing the Hamas demonstrations”.
While the West Bank is controlled by the Palestinian Authority, an organization certainly with problems, but which has expressed its commitment to peace and to a two-state solution, the Gaza strip is totally controlled by a violent terrorist group, Hamas, whose sole aim is the violent defeat and destruction of Israel. Canada must work with the Palestinian people to support and build the capacity of a legitimate representative government, but this requires the isolation and defeat of Hamas. Although Israel is their target, the Palestinian people are Hamas’s first victims. Hamas is shameless in its efforts to increase and use the suffering of the Palestinian people for its own cynical political ends. How else do we explain its actions? In the midst of a humanitarian crisis, Hamas has repeatedly refused to allow Israel to send aid into the Gaza Strip. It blames the occupation, but there is no occupation in Gaza. It blames the blockade, while it refuses aid, and it repurposes aid and other forms of support as tools to attack Israel. Its charter is explicit that it will countenance no peace accords, that its goal is to attack, to annihilate Israel, and to continue to do so without any compromise whatsoever. If we look at the record of Hamas, it has always focused its resources and its efforts into attacking Israel. It has invested in rockets, when it could have been investing in schools, opportunity, and support for Palestinian young people. It built terror tunnels to try to attack Israel, when it could have been building infrastructure, again that the Palestinian people need. Japan sent kites for Palestinian children to use, to have some joy in flying kites. Instead, those kites were repurposed as another tool with which to attack Israel, trying to set fire to nearby towns.
The so-called “Great Return March”, organized by Hamas is typical of Hamas tactics. It mixes civilians and militants together in a violent march on Israel’s border, aiming to use the Palestinian people as human shields, and thus to be able to infiltrate Israel with militants who could then carry out violent attacks. This is tragic for the Palestinian people, but the perpetrator must be clearly identified as the Hamas terrorist group. We took issue in the opposition with the fact that the Prime Minister issued a statement about violent clashes at the border that made no mention of Hamas. I would ask, what does it mean to be a friend and ally to Israel? The government professes its friendship with Israel. The government is not much of a friend if, in the midst of a violent attack on the border, Canada fails to name the attacker and instead crafts a statement which singles out Israel for responsibility. I would ask, how would Canada respond in a similar situation? How could Canada respond if there were a violent march on our border aimed at infiltrating our territory and attacking Canadian civilians? How would Canada respond? That is my question for the parliamentary secretary. Why this one-sided statement singling out of Israel, and not mentioning—
Mr. Speaker, the government deplores the actions of Hamas and its incitement to violence. It has been listed as a terrorist organization in this country since 2002, with very good reason. Hamas is a violent terrorist organization that uses hateful rhetoric to incite violence against Israel and the Israeli people. While Gazans struggle to feed their families, like the member said, Hamas builds tunnels and launches rockets at Israel, rather than providing for the lives of its desperate Gazans. Hamas has been a leading cause of the miserable situation in the Gaza Strip, which has driven so much frustration and hopelessness among the Palestinians there. We condemn Hamas for continuing to focus on attacking Israel rather than providing and improving the lives of desperate Gazans. We also condemn Iran’s sponsorship of terrorism abroad, including its sponsorship of Hamas and its activities. That is why Canada has listed Iran as a state supporter of terrorism under the State Immunity Act.
Canada has also listed the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps under the Special Economic Measures Act. The IRGC’s operations in the region, including its support of Hamas, are carried out by the IRGC Quds Force. That is why Canada lists this force as a terrorist entity under the Criminal Code and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps is listed under our SEMA sanctions. Iran’s support for terrorism and that of the Assad regime in Syria has exasperated the regional conflict. We strongly believe that the Iranian authorities must uphold and respect democratic and human rights and that the Iranian people have the right to free assembly and to express themselves without facing violence and imprisonment. Our government also believes that any provocative actions by Iran toward Israel are unacceptable. The state of Israel is a close friend and ally.
We share Israel’s concerns about Iran’s provocative behaviour in the region, including Iran’s support for Hamas, its support of Hezbollah near the border in Lebanon, and its ongoing involvement in Syria. Canada’s strong support of Israel is clear. Israel has a right to live in peace, with boundaries, and to ensure its own security in the face of Iranian aggression. Following the violence in the Gaza Strip that led to the tragic loss of life and injured many people, Canadians joined many allies in calling for an independent investigation to thoroughly examine the facts on the ground. Canada’s call was for an investigation into excessive use of force, violence, and any incitement. Our position on Hamas is clear. We condemn the terrorist organization for its aggression and we agree that the role it played in inciting violence and hate must be investigated.
Mr. Speaker, the government, some of the time, on certain points, talks a good game on this, but some of the words it uses are slippery. It is important to identify that slipperiness and challenge it, because in any other democratic country, what would happen in a case like this is that one would trust the independent mechanisms for self-assessment that exist in that country, and yet the Liberal government threw doubt on that by implying that there was a need for an independent external investigation, something that it did not call for, at least initially, in Iran. With the Seyed-Emami case, it said Iran should investigate itself. I want to ask the member for her comments about an independent investigation. Does she think that Israeli independent internal mechanisms are adequate for conducting the investigation the government spoke about?
Mr. Speaker, it is imperative that we establish the facts on what has happened in Gaza. As the government has said, Canada stands ready to assist in such an endeavour. We will work closely with our international partners and through international institutions to address this serious situation. This includes the actions of all parties. Let us not forget that a Canadian was among the wounded, along with so many unarmed people, including civilians, members of the media, first responders, and children. We should all be united in wanting to find out as much as possible about the details involving harm against a Canadian abroad.
Honourable senators, I rise to draw your attention to a serious event that occurred in my city of Toronto this past weekend. The annual anti-Semitic hate fest known as al-Quds Day was held at Queen’s Park, followed by a march that shut down University Avenue.
Since 1979, Quds Day has been a regular international event sponsored by the Islamic Republic of Iran. In Toronto, it attracts local terrorists and regime sympathizers who call for the eradication of Israel and the mass murder of Jews. It is disturbing that 500 people, including families with young children, participated in this hateful demonstration.The murderous ideology expressed at this rally must not be tolerated in Canada as it is not representative of our peaceful, multicultural values. There is no place in Canada for such a vile demonstration of racist hate.
I would like to thank premier-elect Doug Ford for his strong words condemning this event and his pledge that he will prevent any such blatantly racist or anti-Semitic events from being allowed on the grounds of Queen’s Park again in the future.
I would also like to thank Canada’s national Jewish community organizations, including CIJA and B’nai Brith for their vigilance and moral leadership on this issue.
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