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Canadian Friends of a Democratic Iran

Hon. Linda Frum: Honourable senators, earlier this week I was honoured to speak at a multi-partisan event hosted by the Canadian Friends of a Democratic Iran with distinguished guests including the Honourable Irwin Cotler, Judy Sgro, Tony Clement, Peter Kent, former Senator David Smith and our colleague Senator David Tkachuk.

Over 200 Iranian-Canadians from across Canada gathered in Ottawa to share their views on the Liberal government’s proposed re-engagement with Iran.

Two things were made clear by these representatives of the community. First, they believe that diplomatic relations with Iran must be tied to an improvement of human rights. Second, they strongly believe that the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, known as the IRGC, must be listed as a terrorist entity under the Criminal Code of Canada.

Honourable senators, these are exactly the same objectives of Bill S-219, and grassroots support for this legislation was demonstrated by the extraordinary, cross-country turnout for the event.

I salute all those who attended the event because I know it takes great courage, even in Canada, for activists to denounce the cruel and criminal Iranian regime. Even inside our own borders, agents of the Iranian regime use malicious and threatening tactics to silence opponents in the diaspora.

Iranian-Canadians are spied upon and targeted, a situation that was even worse when the Iranian embassy was in operation in Canada.

Opposition to the normalizing of diplomatic relations with Iran could not have been expressed more clearly by attendees of the Canadian Friends of a Democratic Iran event.

I hope that, over the upcoming parliamentary break, you all will take the opportunity to speak to Iranian-Canadians in your own communities to understand their perspective on the proposed re-establishment of diplomatic relations with Iran. As senators, we are here to represent the rights of the oppressed and the vulnerable rather than the powerful.

I wish to thank former Member of Parliament David Kilgour for organizing the event and for his dedication to human rights advocacy.

I would also like to recognize Shahram Goledani from Ottawa, Mr. Fereidoun Shirazi from Montreal, Ms. Zahra Fallah from Toronto and Ms. Sepideh Tehrani from Vancouver, along with the delegations who travelled from far and wide to be here in Ottawa. They are true heroes, and I applaud their fearless commitment to fighting for justice and peace in Iran.

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