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On designating the IRGC, Trudeau is two years too late

Iran’s military force is a national security and terrorist threat to Canada. It’s time to enact legislation to say so.

Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada, making an address at the United Nations in 2017. Photo by Manuel Elias/UN.
Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada, making an address at the United Nations in 2017. Photo by Manuel Elias/UN.
Jakob Glogauer

Canadians are still waiting for answers on whether or not their government truly takes the threat of the Islamic Republic of Iran seriously.

A little more than two years ago, the House of Commons passed a private member’s motion to condemn the brutal Iranian regime, which ended any potential chance of restoring diplomatic relations between Canada and Iran, as well as the immediate request to list the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) in its entirety, as a terrorist entity under the Criminal Code.

While the motion received bipartisan support from both the opposition and the government, the only act carried out was the list of condemnations in the text.

There is one crucial item that has not been fulfilled yet, and that is listing the IRGC—a motion item that should have been carried out from the moment it passed in 2018.

The ministry responsible for designating terrorist entities, Public Safety Canada, has had ample time to review, analyze and decide on whether or not to go forward with a part of the motion that the government agrees with based on their voting record, yet there is still no update on this matter to the Canadian public.

In 2012, the Canadian government under Prime Minister Stephen Harper took a bold and courageous move to end relations with Iran, which included closing the Canadian embassy in Tehran and list one wing of the IRGC: the Quds Force.

Canada has given no consequences in any way to the regime more than six months after the shooting down of Flight PS752—not even a simple condemnation of the gross human-rights violations the regime commits.

The horrific downing of the Ukrainian airliner is further proof that if the IRGC was listed, the families of the victims of this tragedy could file a lawsuit under the Justice for Victims of Terrorism Act.

Essentially, had the Quds Force committed this atrocity, they could be sued. However, since the IRGC is not listed in its entirety, it could not be part of any potential lawsuit. This very disappointing fact alone should be more than enough for Public Safety Canada to classify the IRGC in the category where it belongs as a recognized terrorist organization.

In an interview last year with the Canadian Jewish News, the maker of the motion, Garnett Genuis said that “(the opposition has) asked the question repeatedly over the last year and they always say it’s in process. At some point, these delay tactics look like something more than delay. They look like actual reluctance to take the step.”

The IRGC is already listed as a terrorist entity by Canadian allies—United States, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia—and under the proper parliamentary procedures, it should have already been listed in Canada. The unnecessary bureaucracy that has been going on for two years must end, and the government needs to commit to the overwhelmingly support the move got in a House vote.

And still, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau goes on to shake the blood-soaked hands of the regime’s top diplomat, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, as a means to “find answers” to the plane crash. Yet the answer to who was responsible is obvious: the IRGC, which coordinates with Zarif.

On paper, Trudeau seems to support the initiative of listing the IRGC, but in person, his actions seem otherwise.

In regards to the government’s inaction, a policy paper written by the Macdonald-Laurier Institute stated that “maybe Canada is worried about Iran’s threats of retaliation. But failing to act out of that fear is tantamount to being held hostage by the IRGC. And with the U.S. taking the lead on this issue, Canada’s government now has political cover to act on its commitment.”

At this very moment, there is a lawsuit led by civil society groups currently underway before the courts to mandate the federal government to list the IRGC, as it said it would, according to the piece of legislation that was passed more than two years ago. In 2002, the federal Canadian government lost a lawsuit regarding the listing of the entirety of Hezbollah as a terrorist entity. This is a vital legal precedent for the case for listing the IRGC as a whole as a terrorist organization.

The regime intimates its dissidents and has called for genocide against Israel, the world’s only Jewish state. The elite army of this regime that calls for any kind of genocide should not be left off the hook like it is now.

Under Trudeau, Canada has been acting like a soft-liner on an issue it took a hardline position on just a prime minister ago. Listing the Quds Force in 2012 was a great start, but now in 2020, it is not enough. The IRGC as a whole, not just its military wings, must be listed.

It truly would leave a disappointing legacy for the Trudeau government if they did not recognize the obvious—that the IRGC is indeed a malicious terrorist group and a legitimate threat to Canada.

Just this week, MP David Sweet questioned the government as to why no accountability is being held against the regime. On listing the IRGC, he simply asked the government, “What’s the hold-up?” The government response stating that “human rights is absolutely a top priority” isn’t helpful or encouraging. They in no way are proactively making attempts to provide transparency on this long-awaited piece of already-passed legislation.

As each day goes by, even during a global pandemic, Canadian national security is at risk because the threats of our enemies, such as Iran, are serious, no matter what the situation in the world might be.

Two years ago, the Trudeau government took a principled stance in condemning the Islamic Republic of Iran through a House vote. The time is now for Trudeau to make up his mind and enact what he voted for, listing the most dangerous armed branch in the world, the IRGC, as a terrorist entity.

Jakob Glogauer is an Israel and human-rights activist, based in Toronto.

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