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FUREY: Trudeau needs to support the protesters, say Iranian-Canadians


The poster says Students are ready to die but not surrender
The poster says Students are ready to die but not surrender
Toronto Sun, January 2, 2018 -- Just weeks before the current people’s uprising in Iran began a Canadian senator stood up in the Red Chamber and urged his colleagues to take a tough stand against the dictatorial regime.
Talk about timing. Conservative Sen. David Wells received zero press back when he spoke on Dec. 5. Now we can read his words in a whole new light.
“Bill S-219 provides an opportunity for Canada to be on the right side of history,” Wells said concerning legislation that would compel the government to draft an annual report on human rights in Iran prior to easing any sanctions and also expand our current sanctions to include Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, which controls much of the country’s finances.
That’s the big question. Will Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stand on the right side of history as regular Iranians take to the streets and say enough is enough?
A number of Iranian-Canadians are now calling on Trudeau to do just that.
“The government of Canada should support the people of Iran’s aspirations to join the free world and Canada will definitely benefit from being in good terms with the democratic forces that create the future of Iran,” Avideh Motmaen, a Toronto-area political and human rights activist, wrote to the Sun. “Innocent lives are at stake here. It is beyond party politics.”
Yet so far, Trudeau, who typically offers up a tweet or pair of socks for almost anything, hasn’t taken any position. There’s been little from the Liberals.
This isn’t just about striking a trendy pose. It’s about realigning world affairs in a way consistent with Canadian values.
“It is important that the Trudeau government realizes that they are losing the best opportunity to find the right solution for a fight against extremism,” says Reza Banai, a Toronto-based businessman and former president of the Iranian Canadian Congress.
“It is the duty of the Western world and Canada to understand that by standing next to these youthful, fresh ideas coming out of Iran – fighting against extremism – they are at a very critical point in history,” adds Banai.
By supporting a democratic uprising in Iran, we’re helping bring about the demise of a regime that’s a leading exporter and financier of extremism. It’s a win for the Iranian people and it’s a win for us.
Bill S-219 has been languishing in the Senate since late 2015, when Conservative Sen. David Tkachuk first tabled it and Conservative Sen. Linda Frum continued to champion it late last year. The Liberals, instead of amending it more to their liking or finding a way to make its best elements government legislation, have just let it drift. And now, given the headlines, the inaction on this file is extra embarrassing.
That’s only a part of it, though. After both Paul Martin and Stephen Harper took a stand against the regime’s excesses, Trudeau instead pledged to re-establish diplomatic relations with Iran and reopen the embassies in the wake of the nuclear deal. Iranian-Canadians largely oppose this.
Trudeau’s now going to have to seriously rethink this move. All it would do, at this time, is serve to authenticate the legitimacy of the regime.
“Being silent at this moment is not good at all,” Zahra Fallah, from the International Coalition of Women Against Fundamentalism, says of the silence coming from top Liberals such as Trudeau and Chrystia Freeland. “It does not give a positive message to the Iranians protesting in the streets and waiting to hear who in the international community is going to support them and be their voice.”
“This is the moment,” Banai says of Canada taking a stand. “They have to seize the moment and understand that if they don’t they will pay a big price later. The regime will come out stronger if they survive this.”