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Justin Trudeau won’t say if Canada will designate the IRGC a terrorist organization

Canadians are calling for the federal government to designate the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a terrorist entity in the wake of a Global News report that revealed the extent of the Islamic republic’s interference in Canada. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, however, has not given a straightforward answer. Global’s Negar Mojtahedi has the latest – Nov 15, 2023

A Global News investigation has found evidence that Canada has become a safe haven for affiliates of the Islamic Republic of Iran who are allegedly threatening the lives of Iranian Canadians, and other dissidents in this country.

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Critics of the regime are renewing their calls for the Canadian government to list Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard (IRGC) as a terrorist organization.

During an appearance in Maple Ridge, B.C., on Tuesday, Global News asked Trudeau if Canada would make that designation, just like the United States did in 2019.

“We continue to watch and make sure we’re able to do everything we can that is responsible against the impact of the IRGC,” Trudeau said Tuesday.

“As I have said many many times, the Iranian regime responsible for the shooting down of PS752, killing of its own citizens and killing of Canadian citizens, its sponsorship of terror around the world, means that we will continue to do everything necessary, both to hold that regime to account, to limit its impact around the world and to protect Canadians.”

The IRGC is the regime’s powerful paramilitary organization that is behind many human rights violations in Iran.

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On Jan. 8, 2020, the IRGC shot down Ukraine Airlines flight 752 over Tehran, with two surface-to-air missiles.

It killed all 176 people on board, including 55 Canadian citizens and 30 permanent residents.

Canada, Sweden, Ukraine and the United Kingdom have said they will refer Iran to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) over the incident.

The investigation on Global News’ current affairs program The New Reality this weekend reported an alarming number of regime affiliates are allegedly living and operating in Canada.

Ramin Joubin is a B.C. immigration lawyer who has been identifying and investigating the alarming number of people in Canada with ties to the regime.

“We have about 700 names, right now, that either have temporary residence, permanent residence or citizenship, that are in Canada, and are somehow regime affiliates,” Joubin told Global News. “And some of them had this pre-planned already and they came to Canada knowing that this is going to be their safe haven.”

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has been promising to deal with the problem.  He stood with the families of the victims of PS752 in Ottawa on Oct. 29, 2022. He was passionate in his empathy and his rhetoric: “We know there are people in Canada now who have benefited from the corrupt, horrific regime in Iran and who are hiding amongst … this beautiful community.”

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Trudeau was emphatic on taking action: “We will be working with all the tools at our disposal to make sure Canada is never again a haven for killers, murders, and those responsible for the repression of Iranian people,” he said last October.

On Tuesday, Trudeau defended the actions of his government. “One of the steps we have taken, as a government just last year was using a tool has rarely been used in Canada…where we have used measures to list the senior members of the IRGC as being permanently banned from Canada. Even if there is a regime change and a vast improvement of the way the Iranian regime treats not just its people but people around the world, those people will be banned for the rest of their lives from Canada.”

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But that wasn’t enough to prevent Seyed Hassan Ghazizadeh Hashemi from entering Canada this summer.

Hashemi was a senior Minister for the same Iranian administration at the time PS752 was shot down from the sky.

Just this August, Hashemi was spotted in Montreal — in the background of a Radio-Canada news report about Quebec tourism. He was also captured on social media visiting Casa Loma in Toronto.

During his Canadian vacation, he reportedly threatened Canadian citizen Hamed Esmaeilion, whose wife and daughter were killed on PS752.

On Aug. 28, Immigration Minister Marc Miller posted on X that Hashemi’s application for temporary residence was denied and that Hashemi was being barred for three years, due to “Iran’s disregard for human rights.”

All of this has raised new questions about how regime affiliates like Hashemi can get into Canada in the first place.

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“There are major gaps in the system, gaps that a lot of regime officials are falling through,” says Canadian human rights lawyer Kaveh Shahrooz. “They’re able to come to Canada without being stopped or able to bring their money here, bring their family here and live comfortably.”

Immigration lawyer Joubin agrees, and in response to Trudeau’s remarks on Tuesday, says the government needs to designate the IRGC as a terrorist organization, or explain why it won’t.

“If you don’t want to do it, give us a reason. The lack of transparency and straightforwardness on this straightforward issue; of course it’s upsetting and it’s not something I want to see in Canadian politics,” Joubin said.

Global News asked Public Safety Minister Dominic LeBlanc for answers. In a statement, a spokesperson for Minister Leblanc said: “Foreign interference by state and non-state actors targets numerous facets of our society – and those first and most impacted are often diaspora communities.

“Any attempts by foreign agents to intimidate or coerce of Canadian citizens on Canadian soil is simply unacceptable. Our government has a series of tools to combat foreign interference. We are continuously looking at ways to adapt our measures in light of evolving threats.”

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“It’s really a mystery as to what else the IRGC needs to do to be listed as a terror group,” Shahrooz told Global News. “I mean, we had organizations like The Proud Boys, a racist organization that within days of being examined by Canadian authorities, were listed as a terror group. The IRGC has a documented record of killing Canadians and killing people of other nationalities besides the repression at home.

“Part of the problem is that the government of Canada isn’t taking these steps (to list the IRGC as a terrorist entity), but I think equally bad is that the Government of Canada refuses to tell activists and stakeholders in the Iranian Canadian community why it’s not taking action,” Shahrooz added. “It says all the right rhetoric about wanting to stand with the Iranian people, but doesn’t actually take the steps or explain why it doesn’t adopt the policies that we need.”

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