Canadians of Iranian descent, victims of Iran-sponsored terrorism, and human rights advocates, are supporting S-219.

Some have claimed that the regime can be held


There is little if any precedent suggesting that Iranian violations can be mitigated by merely engaging in diplomatic disapproval or issuing condemnatory statements ungrounded in a concrete legislative format:

a)  Past Precedents –The Iranian regime has made itself perfectly and unabashedly clear over the last 38 years, that it will not reciprocate or moderate its positions in response to western outreach efforts. For decades US presidents and other world leaders have taken turns making numerous and excessively generous offers to the regime to look past the regime’s blood-soaked history and open a new page of diplomatic engagement. These offers were rebuffed52. Even the much-lauded Iran nuclear deal (JCPOA) is widely acknowledged as having resulted from prolonged sanctions against the regime. As noted by Dr. Sara Bazoobandi, of Chatham House’s Middle East and North African program: “When Rouhani came to the national TV channel to have an election debate, the first thing that he mentioned was … that ‘I am going to bring the value of your currency back and I'm going to bring the value of your passports back’. …Iran is a country tired of being in that state of strategic loneliness….”53

b) Current Iranian Escalation – Iran was provided with an opportunity with the signing of the JCPOA to further its interests and standing by demonstrating some semblance of good will on issues related to human rights and terrorism. These issues have been at the core of western concerns regarding the regime. One might have expected the regime to capitalize on the thaw and open a profitable new page with countries willing to largely forgive and forget the brutality that has characterized the Islamic Republic since it was founded.

But Iran has responded as it always has to every outstretched hand from the west – with greater regional belligerence; more executions; more amputations and more vitriol towards Iran’s minorities. The regime’s vast industry of atrocities including the execution of juveniles and members of the LBGT community has only expanded since nuclear sanctions were lifted under the JCPOA. As noted by the Hon. Irwin Cotler –  it is recently reelected President Rouhani who has overseen this “massive execution binge”. His regime executes one person every 8 hours for any of the 80 capital offenses in the Iranian Penal Code including crimes of "corruption on earth" and "enmity with God."  It is the same President Rouhani who has rewarded and promoted the worst of Iran’s human rights violators, and has presided over nine government ministries that are responsible for every manner of abuse that Tehran has chosen to inflict on its people. Iran’s relentless pace of human rights violations have been documented by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the UN Special Rapporteur54 on human rights in Iran, and a host of other human rights organizations monitoring Iranian behaviours.

c)  Iran has rebuffed Canada’s outstretched hand – Despite the Trudeau government’s stated commitments and efforts on reengagement, Iran has continued its policy of unjustified and unprovoked imprisonment of Canadian dual-nationals like Canadian academic Homa Hoodfar and Canadian Abdolrasoul Dorri Esfahani who worked as a member of a team involved in negotiating the Iran nuclear deal (JCPOA)55. Iran has committed similar violations with the nationals of other western countries that supported the JCPOA and are currently reengaging with Iran.

d)  “It's going to take you 30 years to really construct a viable and unbreakable peace” – Even Dr. George Lopez of the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, who testified against S-219, conceded that it could take decades for reengagement to create viable change in Iran.56  Decades of terrorism and regional carnage while corrupt Iranian government entities fill their coffers through Canadian business deals is an unacceptable ratio of return on this unfounded prediction – one based on a much-disputed premise that there are truly moderate forces in the Iranian government to work with. Even Lopez himself was very circumspect in this regard stating that:

Although many of us were hopeful with the 2013 election of Mr. Rouhani, seemingly a moderate, and his subsequent signing of that agreement [the nuclear agreement] with the West, it's clear that he has neither the political leverage nor the inclination to change some long-standing Iranian behavior with regard to the Bahá'í and internal dissent.”57

e) Ambassador Dennis Ross: “If we truly want to see Rouhani and the more pragmatic constituency in Iran strengthened over time, we need to raise the costs to Iran for its destabilizing and threatening policies in the region…. 58

Ambassador Dennis Ross worked on Middle East issues under Presidents Clinton and Obama, and has advocated a more aggressive posture in targeting Iran’s aggressions and in appropriate behaviours:59

For now, however, the key centers of power in Iran have not been weakened. If we truly want to see Rouhani and the more pragmatic constituency in Iran strengthened over time, we need to raise the costs to Iran for its destabilizing and threatening policies in the region…. 60

We need to apply the same logic we employed to bring the Iranians to the negotiating table on the nuclear issue: Make the Iranians pay a high price for bad behaviors even as we offer them a way out….”61


List of Questions:

  1. What are the key provisions of S-219?

    This bill provides for strengthening of Canada’s sanctions regime against Iran for its support of terrorism, incitement to hatred, and human rights violations; and for the identification of Iranian officials responsible for such activities. The Act has several key components: a.       Government Report –...

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  2. What has precipitated Canada’s strained relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran?

    Iran’s illegal and egregious actions against Canadian citizens; its status as the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism; its severe violation of the human rights of its own citizenry; and its flouting of the international community have generated these tensions with Canada and other countries. As outlined below, the difficulties ...

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  3. What is S-219 intended to accomplish?

    What can sanctions achieve? – Despite clear limitations, sanctions have been utilized as an instrument of statecraft by Canada and other western countries in hundreds of cases over the last century – even when the sanctions themselves have not directly generated a “solution” for the crisis or behaviours being targeted. ...

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  4. Is S-219 a partisan bill?

    S-219 was introduced by Conservative Senator David Tkachuk and was seconded by Liberal Senator George Baker. S-219 is supported by a coalition of organizations and individuals committed to combatting terrorism, promoting human rights, and supporting the people of Iran in their struggle for democracy. Sen. Tkachuk worked closely with a ...

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  5. Will S-219 impact ordinary Iranian citizens living in Iran?

    This bill will not impose further hardship on ordinary Iranian citizens in Iran who have already been victimized by the regime’s policies. As noted by Richard Nephew – an architect of the JCPOA who was critical of some aspects of S-219: In this case, the unintended consequences on the humanitarian impact of this bill are probably ...

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  6. Does S-219 prevent the Canadian government from reengaging with Iran?

    S-219 does not preclude a restoration of diplomatic relations with Iran or business dealings between Canada and the Iranian regime. It simply offers a framework for balancing Canada’s stated concerns with Iran’s egregious behaviours and the government’s objective of reengagement. It seeks only to exclude those regime entities ...

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  7. Some have claimed that Iran will refuse “reengagement” with Canada if S-219 were to pass. Should S-219 be rejected on this basis?

    Iran is currently doing business with Canada despite being subject to Canadian sanctions under SEMA, and despite being listed by Canada as a State Supporter of Terror. (Iran for instance recently purchased $100 million in aircraft from Bombardier47). Furthermore, Iran is “engaging” other countries that also have imposed sanctions ...

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  8. One critic claimed that passing S-219 will put Canada on the “margins of international relations with Iran”. Is this true?

    It is the Iranian regime which has put itself – with malice and forethought –  on the margins of the civilized world by its own behaviors over the last 37 years. Most recently with the signing of the JCPOA the regime was provided yet another opportunity to demonstrate some semblance of good will on issues related to terrorism and ...

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  9. Some have claimed that the regime can be held

    There is little if any precedent suggesting that Iranian violations can be mitigated by merely engaging in diplomatic disapproval or issuing condemnatory statements ungrounded in a concrete legislative format: a)  Past Precedents –The Iranian regime has made itself perfectly and unabashedly clear over the last 38 years, that it ...

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  10. Doesn’t Canada already maintain some SEMA sanctions against Iran? What is S-219 adding to the current SEMA regulations?

    Canada already sanctions Iran under SEMA. S-219 simply stipulates that those sanctions already in place can be lessened only if Iran shows significant change with regard to terror sponsorship, human rights abuses and incitement to hatred. It also applies existing sanctions to additional targets as if they were persons whose names are listed in the ...

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  11. Do Iranian violations meet the threshold for continued listing under SEMA as stipulated in S-219?

    Yes. a) As noted at greater length in FAQ #12, the precedents for sanctioning Iran under SEMA are clear.  In the case of Burma for instance, SEMA regulations were imposed as a result of the abhorrent human rights and humanitarian situation in Burma is particularly dangerous as the government's actions not only oppress its own people,...

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  12. Have any other countries imposed new sanctions on Iran for human rights violations since the signing of the JCPOA?

    Yes. a) In May 2017, the U.S. Treasury Department imposed the first human rights-related sanctions designations against Iranian individuals and entities since December 2014.62 b) In April 2017, the European Council has extended sanctions against Iran. The extended EU measures hitting Iran include a travel ban and asset-freeze ...

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  13. S-219 requires that Canada consider listing the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) in its entirety as a terrorist entity. Are other lawmakers considering similar measures?

    Yes. a) On August 2, 2017, President Trump signed Congressional sanctions against Iran, known as the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act. The law requires the president to extend a terrorism designation pursuant to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and its foreign agents and affiliates by Oct. ...

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  14. Some critics have suggested that S-219 will set an undesirable “precedent” in Canadian policy. Is this true? Does S-219 set a precedent for sanctioning human rights violations?

    The precedent for sanctioning the Iranian regime for these violations was established in Canadian policy long before S-219 was introduced in the Senate. Here are several examples: a) Prime Minister Brian Mulroney The first precedent for sanctioning Iran’s legislatively mandated and institutionalized discrimination towards minorities, ...

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  15. How is S-219 different from the Magnitsky Legislation?

    a) While we support the passage of the Magnitsky Bill, we do not believe that the Magnitsky legislation could be a substitute for S-219 - or vice versa.  We believe that each of these bills provides different tools for different albeit related issues --  and one cannot take the place of the other. Both are needed as part of ...

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  16. What is Iran’s international ranking as a human rights violator?

    Freedom House 2017 Report - Iran74 Iran’s Aggregate Score – 17/100 (0=least free, 100=most free)   Human Freedom Index 2016 – Iran75 Iran’s Human Freedom ranking – Iran ranked 157 out of 159 countries Personal Freedom score – 3.9/10   World Justice Project Rule of Law Index ...

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  17. Is religious discrimination sanctioned under Iran’s constitution?

    Yes – it is essentially mandated in Iran’s constitution. Euopean Parliament Report: “[Twelver Shia Islam is] – the only religion deemed ‘revolution compliant’ by the state. First, the Iranian Constitution itself enshrines discrimination by stating in its article 13 that the only recognised religious minorities...

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  18. Does Iran discriminate against Muslim and non-Muslim ethnic minorities?

    Yes. The UN Special Rapporteur on Human rights in Iran notes that the Government accepted only 2 out of the 25 recommendations regarding ethnic and religious minorities made during the 2014 universal periodic review.80 Amnesty International: Iran’s disadvantaged ethnic minorities, including Ahwazi Arabs, Azerbaijani Turks, Baluchis, ...

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  1. Why did the former chair of Amnesty International USA refer to the Iranian regime as “Neo-Apartheid”?

    Professor Winston Nagan: “Having grown up with the indignities of the apartheid system in South Africa, I bristle whenever … anyone equate a government's treatment of a portion of its citizenry to apartheid.  Usually, the claims are exaggerated. But in Iran today, the government's treatment of the Baha'i community...

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  2. Has Iranian President Hassan Rouhani justified the soaring rates of capital punishment in Iran?

    Speaking to commanders of the Iranian regime's State Security Forces Rouhani stated that: “When someone is condemned to death and he comes to the gallows according to the law, then we have no right to insult him as he is being taken to the gallows… in any case, the law has condemned him and he is punished and this has nothing to do...

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  3. Does Iran execute juveniles?

    Yes. The UN Special Rapporteur (2017): “The Islamic Republic of Iran has reportedly executed the highest number of juvenile offenders worldwide, over the past decade. Despite an absolute ban on the practice under international law, the Islamic Penal Code still explicitly provides for the death penalty for boys of at least 15 lunar years of...

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  4. How has as the current government of Iran justified the continued use of torture, amputations and floggings as legitimate judicial tools?

    Yes. The UN Special Rapporteur (2017) -- The Government did not accept any of the 20 recommendations of the UN Special Rapporteur regarding torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment made during the 2014 universal periodic review. As highlighted in previous UN reports, the Government rejects the notion that amputations ...

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  5. Are child marriages legal under Iranian law?

    UN Special Rapporteur (2017): “Child marriage remains legally possible for girls aged 13 years and boys aged 15 years. Even younger children can be married with the permission of the court but the marriage may not be consummated until puberty. In June 2016, a spokesperson for the Tehran-based Association to Protect the Rights of Children ...

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  6. Is honour-based violence against women legitimate under Iranian law?

    UN Special Rapporteur (2017): “…Certain provisions might even condone sexual abuse, such as article 1108 of the Civil Code, which obliges wives to fulfil the sexual needs of their husbands at all times. Similar concerns apply to provisions such as articles 301 and 612 of the Islamic Penal Code of 2013, which provide for lighter ...

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  7. Has Iran’s unjust imprisonment of Iranian dual nationals from western countries increased since the signing of the Iran nuclear deal (JCPOA)?

    Yes. The increase was noted in a 2016 report by the European Parliament98, and Iran in fact has not denied it. See the following excerpt from an Iranian newspaper: Financial Tribune (Mar. 2017): An Iranian lawmaker said western intelligence services and spying networks are trying to "inflict damage on our country" by taking advantage ...

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  8. Has Iran assassinated dissidents and others opposed to the regime living abroad?

    Prof. Payam Akhavan – McGill University, Member of the Permanent Court of Arbitration at the Hague “Until very recently, Iran’s biggest trading partner was the EU. …[M]ore than 200 Iranian dissidents were assassinated in the streets of Berlin and Paris and very rarely was the Iranian government held to account. So the ...

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  9. Has there been any improvement in Iran’s human rights record under the tenure of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani?

    No.  According to most human rights experts the situation has remained unchanged or has worsened: The UN Special Rapporteur (2017): “The Special Rapporteur regrets that the information she received did not reveal any notable improvement in the situation of human rights in the country.”103 The Hon. Irwin Cotler (Senate ...

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  10. But didn’t Iran make certain legislative changes in response to the report of UN Special Rapporteur?

    Report of the European Parliament (2017): “Similarly, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights Situation in Iran concluded that political and legislative reform has not produced tangible effects. More specifically, there is a major gap between the legislation that has been put in place and the practices implemented by the state in ...

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  11. Has Iran abandoned its policy of assassinating dissidents and others opposed to the regime living abroad?

    Apparently not – despite promises112 to do so. See below: Brigadier General Hossein Salami – Deputy Commander of the IRGC Tasnim News Agency (2016): "We warn the enemies of Islamic Republic of Iran: Do not make this mistake again as the revolutionary forces will chase them and kill them anywhere in the ...

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  12. Why is Iran widely acknowledged as world’s most egregious state-sponsor of terrorism?

    Hezbollah Leader Hassan Nasrallah (June 24, 2016) “Hezbollah’s budget, its income, its expenses, everything it eats and drinks, its weapons and rockets, are from the Islamic Republic of ...

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  13. How much funding does Iran provide for global terrorism?

    The U.S. State Departments 2016 Country Report on Terrorism lists 58 "Foreign Terrorist Organizations," (many of them are also designated as terrorist entities by Canada) of which over a dozen are allied with Iran.125 Terrorism experts maintain that has Iran invested billions of dollars in terrorism: a) Congressional Report ...

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  14. Has Canada formally recognized Iran’s leading role in sponsoring global terrorism?

    Yes. Iran is Listed in Canada as a State Supporter of Terror – Iran is listed in Canada (and in the U.S.) as a State Supporter of Terrorism. On July 1st, 2017, the Canada Gazette reported that after a review, the Foreign Minister determined that Canada will continue listing Iran and Syria as “State Supporters of Terrorism” ...

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  15. Have Canadians been hurt or killed by Iran-sponsored terrorism?

    Yes. Several Canadians were murdered in Hamas terrorist attacks, including Mr. Scott Goldberg, a father of seven who was murdered when a Hamas terrorist incinerated a busload of travelers in January 2004 in Jerusalem. Other Canadians have been injured in Hamas attacks, including Dr. Sherri Wise of Vancouver. Dr. Wise was severely injured in a...

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  16. Have Iranian-Canadians or permanent residents been unjustly imprisoned by the Iranian regime?

    Yes.   The list can be found below: a) Iranian-Canadian Abdolrasoul Dorri Esfahani – just sentenced to five years in prison for espionage, is an accountant involved in the financial aspects of the Iran nuclear deal (JCPOA). b) Canadian Permanent Resident Saeed Malekpour (2008 - ?) – Malekpour was arrested in October 2008...

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  17. Are Iran-sponsored terror-proxies active in Canada?

    Public Safety Canada: "Hezbollah has networks around the world, including in Canada, and uses the networks for recruitment, fundraising and procurement.”137 Hezbollah Expert Mathew Levitt: “Hezbollah has been active in Canada since the 1980s raising money through criminal activities and charity, procuring dual-use items, ...

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  18. Aside from the Hezbollah presence in Canada, are there other reasons for concern regarding Iranian influence and interference in Canada?

    Yes. a) Iran’s Spymaster: Lobbying Group for Iran is Active in Canada (2017) “Mahmoud Alavi, Iran’s intelligence minister, in recent remarks  bragged about the Islamic Republic’s ability to operate an unnamed “lobby group” in the United States, Canada, and England, remain devoted to the ...

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