Prime Minister says government is preparing to prevent members of the Iranian regime and the IRGC from entering Canada

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said his government is taking steps to prevent senior Iranian regime leaders – including members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) – from entering Canada.

Trudeau said the move would affect the top 50% of the IRGC — about 10,000 members — and would be permanent.

“We are using the most powerful tools at our disposal to suppress this brutal regime,” Trudeau said at a news conference on Friday.

The move comes after weeks of pressure on the government by opposition MPs and supporters to add the IRGC to Canada’s terrorist list.

What the government has announced falls far short of listing the IRGC as a terrorist entity under the Criminal Code. Instead, the government is using provisions of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) to target members of the regime and the IRGC.

MPs passed a motion in 2018 calling on the government to designate the IRGC as a terrorist organization. Four years later, it still hasn’t – although the paramilitary Quds Guards Force is already on the list.

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Earlier this week, the government imposed sanctions on 34 Iranians and Iranian entities, including members of the IRGC and Iran’s vice police.

Trudeau said Friday the government would expand those sanctions and allocate $76 million to bolster the government’s ability to seize and freeze the assets of sanctioned entities and establish a new sanctions office at Global Affairs Canada.

The conservative opposition has stepped up pressure on the government to add the IRGC to the list in recent weeks. Conservative MPs have broached the subject in nearly every Question Period since Parliament returned last month.

The Association of Families of Victims of Flight PS752 has also called on Ottawa to add the IRGC to the list of terrorist organizations in response to its role in the downing of the civilian plane two years ago.

Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland insisted on Friday that by taking the steps it has taken, the federal government is recognizing the IRGC as a terrorist entity.

Mehrzad Zarei, center, listens as his letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is read aloud by another protester, second from right in Ottawa, Thursday, Aug. 25, 2022. Zarei is the father of one of the 176 passengers killed on board of a Ukraine International Airlines Flight PS752 crashed and departed Richmond Hill, Ontario. in downtown Ottawa in hopes that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will meet with the families of the victims. (Spencer Colby/The Canadian Press)

“The IRGC is a terrorist organization. Today, by listing the IRGC under the IRPA and in effect citing the broader leadership of the Iranian regime, we officially acknowledge this fact and act accordingly,” she said.

When asked why the government had not added the IRGC to the list of terrorist entities under the Criminal Code, Trudeau did not rule out doing so in the future.

“We looked very, very carefully at all potential tools and we are not taking any other tools off the table,” he said, adding that IRPA had been used against individuals in Rwanda and Bosnia in the 1990s. .

Designating an organization as a terrorist entity under the Criminal Code can have serious criminal and financial consequences. Under section 83 of the Code, it is an indictable offense to “collect property…provide or invite a person to provide, or make available property or financial or other related services to a terrorist entity.

The designation also allows banks to freeze assets and enables police to charge those who financially or materially support such a group.

Iranian-Canadian lawyer and human rights activist Kaveh Shahrooz said Friday’s announcement was “disappointing”.

“Making 10,000 IRGC members inadmissible to Canada is a good thing, but it doesn’t go far enough and I don’t think it acknowledges the monstrosity of this organization,” Shahrooz said.

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But University of Ottawa professor Thomas Juneau, who studies Iranian politics, said Friday’s announcement would likely have much more impact than adding the IRGC to the terrorist list – as long as the government is in a position to enforce the measures.

Specifically, Juneau said, the measures could prevent the Iranian government from laundering money into Canada and thwart its efforts to harass Iranian-Canadians.

“In theory, Friday’s announcement includes useful tools to try to counter these activities. In practice, the proof will be in the pudding,” Juneau said in an interview with CBC Radio. The Houseaired Saturday.

Juneau also argued that adding the IRGC to the terrorist list would be difficult to enforce and could have unintended effects, such as preventing Iranian-Canadians from sending money to their families.

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Public Security Minister Marco Mendicino’s office previously said adding an organization to the terrorist list is not the job of politicians.

“Determining whether a group constitutes a terrorist entity is a careful, apolitical process undertaken by Canada’s national security agencies,” spokesman Alexander Cohen said in an email to The Canadian Press in September.

“These agencies work continuously to identify and assess entities that may meet the listing threshold.”

Former Canadian Security Intelligence Service agent Jessica Davis told CBC that adding the IRGC to the list would be a difficult process.

“This is a technocratic process in which the RCMP and CSIS produce intelligence reports making a recommendation to the minister on whether or not to list a group,” she said, adding that it It is unclear whether the IRGC would meet the threshold used by these government agencies.

Shahrooz agreed that adding the IRGC to the list would not be an easy process. He said he should still be prosecuted.

Davis questioned the government’s ability to enforce the IRPA measures announced today. She called “outlandish” the claim that the government has enough information on 10,000 IRGC members.

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