Conservative Party leader Andrew Scheer pledges to designate Iran’s elite military unit as terrorist organisation
Source: Middle East Eye
The head of the Conservative Party of Canada has pledged to list Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a terrorist organisation if elected later this month, mirroring a decision taken by Donald Trump’s administration earlier this year.
Andrew Scheer said on Tuesday that a Conservative government would designate Iran’s elite military unit as a terrorist group, as part of its efforts to apply pressure on the country.
“We will target Iran, which routinely abuses human rights, has murdered Canadian citizens, sponsors terrorism and has violated nuclear treaties,” Scheer told reporters at a news conference to announce his party’s foreign policy platform.
“At the same time, we will list Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist entity under Canadian law,” he said.
The Conservatives are in a tight race against Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party ahead of a 21 October federal election.
In 2012, under previous Conservative leader and prime minister Stephen Harper, Ottawa broke all diplomatic relations with Iran, withdrawing Canadian consular staff from the country and expelling Iranian officials from Canada.
Scheer’s comments come amid heightened tensions between Iran and the United States, which earlier this year listed the IRGC as a terrorist organisation as part of its “maximum pressure” campaign against the Iranian government.
A timeline of US-Iran tensions
In line with the Trump administration, the Conservative Party has sought to pressure Trudeau’s government to take a harsher stance against Iran.
Scheer also promised on Tuesday to cut Canadian foreign aid by 25 percent if elected, and reinvest that money to better support Canadians.
He added that Trudeau “must justify the reasons for which he sends foreign aid to countries like Italy, Brazil and Iran”.
The Liberals came to power in 2015 after promising to mend Ottawa’s strained relationship with Tehran.
But in June 2018, they backed a Conservative motion in the House of Commons to “strongly condemn the current regime in Iran for its ongoing sponsorship of terrorism around the world”.
The motion called on the federal government to suspend its attempts to reestablish diplomatic ties with Iran, and call on the Iranian government to release detained Canadian citizens and residents.
It also demanded that Ottawa “immediately designate the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a listed terrorist entity under the Criminal Code of Canada”.
In May of this year, the Conservative Party’s foreign policy shadow minister, Erin O’Toole, lambasted the Canadian government for failing to follow through on that element of the motion.
“Despite voting in support of it, the Liberals have failed to take action against this brutal regime,” O’Toole said in a statement at the time.
“The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps has terrorised the people of Iran for decades and openly declared support for other terrorist organisations such as Hezbollah and Hamas … The fact that Justin Trudeau has done nothing about this is just another example of his weakness and poor judgment on the world stage.”
The strained ties between Ottawa and Tehran were once again on display last month, when Canada seized tens of millions of dollars worth of Iranian government properties in the country.
More than $21m ($28m Canadian) was garnered by the sale of properties in Ottawa and Toronto, Canadian media outlet Global News reported, and portions of the funds were dispensed to “victims of Hamas and Hezbollah”.
An Iranian official later accused Canada of “economic terrorism”.
“Economic terrorism is a method in which Western governments seize or confiscate other nations’ economic sources and interests through misusing legal tools without fair legal procedures,” Abbasali Kadkhodaei tweeted on 14 September, as reported by Iran’s Tasnim news agency.
“Canada’s seizure of Iranian state properties is a blatant example of state economic terrorism,” he said.