The Canadian government will be lifting unilateral sanctions against Iran in the wake of a new deal surrounding the Middle Eastern country’s nuclear program.
During Question Period on Tuesday, Foreign Affairs Minister Stephane Dion confirmed that his government plans to eliminate the sanctions put in place under the previous government.
“It’s true that the U.N. has asked for the sanctions to be lifted … so that Iran doesn’t use nuclear technology for military purposes,” Dion said after a question from the Conservative benches.
Conservative MP Peter Kent then asked if the Liberals would reconsider, citing Iran’s “long history as a bad actor in the Middle East,” the country’s assistance of the Assad regime in Syria and threats against Israel.
“Re-opening our Canadian mission in Tehran would put Canadian foreign service workers at risk,” Kent added.
But Dion replied that Canada’s absence in Iran “is not good for the people of Iran. It is not good for the promotion of human rights. It’s not good for the strategic interests in the region, it’s not good for Israel. It is good for nobody. We will change this policy.”
Re-opening the local Canadian embassy would “certainly not be the first step,” Dion told reporters following Question Period. He would not give a firm timeline for the lifting of the sanctions, saying only that it will be done “speedily.”
“But we’ll do it effectively,” Dion said. “We think that when you have a disagreement with a regime, you don’t pull out. You work harder to be sure you see improvements. It’s what our allies did in negotiating with Iran an agreement that is good for the world. We need to be there to be sure that this agreement will be fulfilled and implemented and respected.”
Among other things, ending the sanctions would allow Canadian firms like Bombardier Inc. to place bids on Iranian contracts.
“Surely it will affect business in Canada,” Dion acknowledged.