Even before the West made the last in the continuing series of concessions that became the disturbing P5+1 Iranian nuclear deal, a campaigning Justin Trudeau asserted more than a year ago that he would "re-engage" with Iran and reopen Canada's diplomatic mission in Tehran. The mission was closed by a Harper government fearful of state-supported assaults on Canada's representatives there, and concerned about Iran's subversive activity in this country.
The ensuing pre-election storm sent the candidate's Liberal party minders scrambling. A Trudeau government would move cautiously, they assured us. There would be no precipitous re-establishing of relations with the regime commonly dubbed the leading state-sponsor of terror.
But by mid-February, Stéphane Dion, Trudeau's foreign affairs minister, was all about "engagement" and — relying on the Iran nuke deal — ended significant Canadian Iran sanctions. And later, even as Canadian professor Dr. Homa Hoodfar was held in Iran and Ontario's superior court authorized victims of Iranian-backed terror to extract compensation from non-diplomatic Iranian assets, Dion admitted that the Trudeau government was in official talks with the regime. These talks are apparently aimed at re-establishing relations between the countries.
Despite various countries' diplomatic presence in Iran during the sanctions years, the regime's human rights-abuse continues. Weeks after Trudeau's June 2015 declaration, 40 of Iran's state-run media organizations jointly solicited British-Indian novelist Salman Rushdie's killing by putting a $600,000 bounty on his head. Executions in Iran increased to almost 1,000, including children. Gays, Baha'is and others are hunted. Officials animated by Islamist religious doctrine prevent young, soon-to-be-executed female political prisoners from going to paradise by having them raped before being murdered: no virginity, no paradise.
Internationally, Tehran's dictatorship is implicated in extensive violence: assassinations in Germany and France, major bombings in Lebanon and Argentina and operations in the United States. With Hezbollah, its terrorist progeny, Iran increasingly operates in South America. No surprise: in the 1990s, wrote Sohrab Ahmari, current Iranian president Hassan Rouhani was a key player in a "campaign of terror against Iranian dissidents in Europe." Today, Iran and Hezbollah prop up Syria's Assad by facilitating sectarian bloodletting. Tehran threatens the Persian Gulf region and reinforces Yemen's butchery.
Meanwhile, Iran masquerades as a nuclear-nonproliferation "partner." But Iran's Fordow, Natanz, and Arak atomic facilities were built in secret, in violation of international law. Reports say Iran plans to develop deployable electro-magnetic pulse (EMP) weapons, which could cripple power grid infrastructure and electronic equipment across thousands of kilometres. In April, American EMP experts reminded the Canadian Senate's national security committee about U.S. Congressional EMP Commission warnings: EMP weapons could utterly destroy the U.S. — and presumably, Canadian — electrical grid on which our technological civilization depends for its literal survival. In the meantime, and contrary to UN Security Council resolutions, Iran tests ballistic missiles, at least one with a promise to destroy Israel inscribed on its side.
To cap things off, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei advertises Iran's terror support. "Hezbollah and its pious youth," he told the Union of Islamic Pupils' Associations, "are shining like the Sun and they are a source of honour for the Muslim world."
All this, when Tehran should be on its best behaviour, if only to advance its sanctions-busting, militarist objectives.
Nor has Canada been spared the ayatollahs' untoward attentions.
Iranian regime-backed Canadian residents intimidate dissident expatriates in Canada. Hamid Mohammadi, a former senior Iranian diplomat in Ottawa, was exposed calling on Iranian Canadians not to integrate. He apparently wants them to infiltrate the Canadian government and work subversively for the motherland. Before it was shuttered, Iran's Ottawa embassy was pushing its education agenda — including glorifying child-martyrdom — in a cultural program at Ottawa's Lady Evelyn public school. Iran's Hezbollah terror organization continues to operate and fund raise in Canada, as well.
Rapprochement with Iran – through exchanges of ambassadors or otherwise – will bring no advantage other than to the fortunes of the mullahs' malevolent, emboldened rule. Tehran's fanatical, aggressively destabilizing regime, and its friends and influencers in Canada, already have enough of a presence in this country and beyond. Rather than weaken, we must limit the ayatollahs' avenues into our nation, contain this global threat, and embrace sound international efforts to encourage constructive democratic change in Iran.
Former Iranian political prisoner Shabnam Assadollahi is an award-winning human rights defender in Canada, where she writes and broadcasts. Lawyer David B. Harris directs the Intelligence Program, INSIGNIS Strategic Research Inc., and recently testified before the U.S. Senate homeland security committee.