(JTA) – Foreign Affairs Minister Stéphane Dion said Canada will soon re-establish diplomatic relations with Iran.
“Canada’s severing of ties with Iran had no positive consequences for anyone: not for Canadians, not for the people of Iran, not for Israel and not for global security,” Dion said in a speech delivered Wednesday at a University of Ottawa conference on global affairs.
“Today, Canada must return to Iran to play a useful role in that region of the world. … We are being asked by all sides to re-engage, and we are doing so.”
Canada closed its embassy in Tehran in 2012 over Iran’s nuclear program, as well as its hostile attitude toward Israel.
The new Liberal government under Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will end the “disengagement” with Iran and other countries put into place by the Conservative government of Stephen Harper, Dion said.
He also called for Canada to play a larger role at the United Nations (UN).
“True, the UN is an imperfect institution, but it is the one we have, and we must not neglect it if we want to advance our objectives of democracy, human rights, peace, justice and sustainable development,” he said.
Michael Mostyn, CEO of B’nai Brith Canada, told the Canadian Jewish News in the wake of Dion’s speech that now is not the time to re-engage Iran.
“Why should Canada re-engage Iran at this time?” Mostyn asked. “We see by Iran’s words and actions that it is doubling down on repression, terror and militarism.”
Shimon Koffler Fogel, CEO CIJA, the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, told the newspaper: “So far, on the substantive issues, the Trudeau government has done well on our files – both international and domestic. The government has been accessible, our views have been welcome and we trust that it will continue in this way going forward.”