Canadian Jewish Political Affairs Committee
Iran-Efforts to Establish Trade Relations

Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government):comeag@sen.parl.gc

(Response to question raised by Hon. Yoine Goldstein on February 12, 2008)

The government shares the concerns expressed by the Honourable Senator.

Canada’s current approach to Iran is quite intensive in its scope, and clearly reflects concern about Iran’s behaviour and its policies on a number of key issues.

This approach reflects Canada’s longstanding and ongoing concerns about Iran’s official opposition to the Middle East Peace Process, its support of terrorist organizations, its pursuit of weapons of mass destruction and its entirely unacceptable human rights policies. The latter include the persecution of religious and ethnic minorities, the oppression of women’s rights and the severe restriction of the freedom of expression and the media.

Since 1996, Canada’s relations with Iran have been governed by a policy of controlled engagement. This policy prohibits the opening of Iranian consulates, cultural centres and Iran banks in Canada, and also suspended talks on direct air flights between Canada and Iran.

Following the death of Canadian-Iranian Zahra Kazemi in 2003, and the lack of progress in punishing those responsible for her death, Canada tightened the Controlled Engagement Policy. As it stands now, the Controlled Engagement Policy limits official bilateral dialogue to the following four topics: the case of Ms. Kazemi, Iran’s human rights performance, Iran’s nuclear program and Iran’s role in the region…