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Iran—Justice for Victims of Terrorism

Hon. Linda Frum: Honourable senators, my question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate.

Recently, Iran publicly chastised Canada over an Ontario Superior Court ruling that awarded Iran's non-diplomatic assets in Canada to victims of terror attacks carried out by the Hamas and Hezbollah terror groups supported by Iran.

These victims and their families were able to bring forward their cases in Canada due to the Justice for Victims of Terrorism Act, which received Royal Assent in 2012.

This legislation, brought forward by the previous Conservative government, permits victims of terrorism to sue the perpetrators or supporters of these acts, including foreign countries that Canada has determined provide support to terrorism, such as Iran.

Honourable senators are aware that the Trudeau government has stated its desire to re-engage with the Iranian regime. My question for the government leader is this: Has the Government of Canada, in any way, responded to this public scolding by Iran's Foreign Ministry? Will the Liberal government continue to uphold the Justice for Victims of Terrorism Act, or will it accede to Iran's demand that the Trudeau government "radically revise" what it calls the extremist and wrong positions of the former Canadian government before Iran will consider any attempt at re-engagement with Canada?

Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate): I thank the honourable senator for her question and, indeed, for her ongoing vigilance with respect to human rights abuses generally and in recent weeks, in particular, on Iran and the opportunity this house has had to focus on this issue as a result of the honourable senator's work.

I will take note of the specific question with regard to the Government of Canada's response, but I would like to add that re-engaging with Iran or other countries that have regimes or governments that are ones that we often differ with is not to suggest that we are cozying up to those governments or otherwise seeking to diminish our voice on human rights and appropriate concerns of the government and Canadians. It is to strategically re-engage, to advance our common interests where appropriate, and engage with civil society and other sectors of countries in which we are seeking a broader re-engagement so that Canada can be a voice in advancing the collective interests and the interests of Canada that would be broadly shared by the honourable senator opposite.

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