Diplomatic Relations with Iran
Hon. Linda Frum: Leader, yesterday Iran’s foreign minister issued a press release indicating that Iran and Canada will be holding expert-level meetings to discuss re-establishing diplomatic ties between our two countries. Canadian officials, however, have not made any statements about these meetings. Leader, surely you would agree that Canadians shouldn’t have to go to Iranian news sources to learn about the activities of our Department of Global Affairs.
Can you confirm that these meetings are taking place? If so, can you tell us why the Iranian government is being more transparent about them than the Trudeau Liberal government?
Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate): I thank the honourable senator for her question. I cannot confirm that because I am unaware, but I will certainly make inquiries.
Senator Frum: In the same press release that the Iranians issued, a spokesman for the foreign minister is quoted as saying:
We hope that the Canadian government now sees Iran’s effective role in combating terrorism and stabilizing the region . . . .
Is it the position of the Liberal Government of Canada that Iran, the leading state sponsor of terror and human rights abuses, is in fact combating terrorism and stabilizing the region, because that seems to be the predicate to how the Iranians agreed to these meetings with Global Affairs?
Senator Harder: I can assure you that the Government of Canada doesn’t take its policy from press releases of any foreign government, particularly that of Iran.
I can confirm what ministers have said for the last number of months, which is the Government of Canada is wishing to pursue a diplomatic engagement with Iran to the mutual benefit of Canada, Iran, and our ability to manage some of the difficult issues that we face multilaterally. That is the policy of the Government of Canada. The pace of pursuing that will be governed by behaviour both diplomatic and otherwise.
Senator Frum: You will ascertain whether or not these meetings are in fact taking place and you will report back to this chamber on that matter?
Senator Harder: Yes, of course. I implied that with my first answer, but I should have been more precise.