Canada responds to Iranian regime’s ‘abhorrent state behaviour’ with new sanctions and assets freeze

A protester holds a sign with a photo of Iranian woman Mahsa Amini during a demonstration against her death, in Berlin, Germany, September 28.Markus Schreiber/Associated Press

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau unveiled additional sanctions and a freeze on assets held by Canadians in response to the Iranian regime’s crackdown on mass protests following the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in mid-September.

Trudeau and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland held a press conference Friday afternoon to announce that up to 10,000 senior members of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) will be permanently banned from Canada.

Ms Amini died after being arrested by morality police enforcing Iran’s tough restrictions on women’s clothing.

” This will [the] The top half of the IRGC leadership – the 10,000 officers and senior members most responsible for this heinous state behavior – are inadmissible to Canada,” he said.

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Ottawa will also “massively expand targeted sanctions” to hold members of the regime’s elite to account, Trudeau said.

He added that Ottawa will provide $76 million to agencies to broadly boost their ability to implement sanctions and freeze and seize assets more quickly.

“We are expanding Canada’s ability to fight money laundering and illicit financial activities, as well as crack down on foreign interference to protect Canadian Iranians and other communities in Canada,” he said. he declares.

Friday’s measures build on sanctions against 25 senior Iranian officials and nine government entities that were announced by the federal government on Monday.

The Trudeau government faced tough questions in the House of Commons as the Conservative opposition demanded that Ottawa designate Iran’s IRGC as a terrorist group.

Trudeau said the new sanctions aim to target those who carry out repressive measures, violate human rights and spread the regime’s propaganda.

But the Prime Minister was repeatedly asked by reporters why Canada had not followed the US lead and declared the IRGC a terrorist group, which would make it subject to the Criminal Code.

He argued that the new measures are important, saying a ban like the one imposed on senior IRGC members from entering Canada was last used against war criminals in civil wars in Bosnia and Rwanda. .

“These are the strongest measures we have to prosecute the state and state entities,” he said. “The Canadian Criminal Code is not the best tool to prosecute states or state entities, but we will continue to look at all the tools we can use to do so.

He was unable to say whether any members of the Iranian regime are in Canada and therefore at risk of deportation.

Cabinet ministers will provide more details next week on exactly how the various sanctions will be implemented, he said.

Ms Freeland told reporters that Iran is “oppressive, theocratic and misogynistic. The leaders of the IRGC are terrorists; the IRGC is a terrorist organization,” she said, although the government has not yet listed it as such.

Conservative Foreign Affairs Critic Michael Chong dismissed the new measures as nothing more than a travel ban. Listing the IRGC as a terrorist group as the US has done would be much more effective, he said.

He also said Ottawa is ignoring calls from the families of those who died when the Iranian military shot down a Ukraine Airlines jetliner in January 2020, killing 176 passengers, including 55 Canadians and 30 permanent residents.

“The measures do not provide tools for the victims of Flight 752 to be compensated for the deaths of their loved ones,” Chong said.

NDP Foreign Affairs Critic Heather McPherson said she was “extremely disappointed” that the sanctions were announced 1,003 days after Flight 752 was downed, and have not been implemented. in place earlier to respond to “Putin’s war crimes in Ukraine”.

She expressed concern that the government could take months to start enforcing the sanctions.

Thomas Juneau, an associate professor at the University of Ottawa’s Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, said listing the IRGC as a terrorist group is too sweeping and difficult to enforce.

“Because it’s a blunt and radical tool, you catch people on the net that you don’t want to target. Someone, for example, who was conscripted into the IRGC as a cook and therefore poses no danger,” he said. “That person wouldn’t be able to send money home because they could get caught up in the terrorist financing laws.”

Professor Juneau praised Ottawa for providing federal agencies with an additional $76 million to enforce Iranian and Russian sanctions, but added that it will likely take years to get in place properly. People involved in applying sanctions have specific technical skills and they are not easy to find, he said.

Michael J. Birnbaum