Canadian officials want to overthrow the Iranian government and are supporting reactionary forces to do so. Those supporting this effort should consider Canada’s role in Libya.
Last weekend Conservative party leader Pierre Poilievre and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs Rob Oliphant spoke at an event with the “Crown Prince of Iran” Pahlavi Reza. Poilievre told the crowd “the winter of the IRI [Islamic Republic of Iran] is coming to an end.” Beforehand Deputy Conservative leader Melissa Lantsman tweeted, “honoured to meet the Crown Prince of Iran, Pahlavi Reza about our commitment to help the Iranian nation courageously fight for freedom. A productive meeting alongside leader Pierre Poilievre to reinforce our steadfast support as Conservatives to ban the IRGC [Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corp] terrorists, apply additional sanctions and amplify the voice of the revolution.”
Who is this crown prince the Tory deputy leader is so proud to meet and what is the Canadian record regarding interfering in Iranian affairs?
Reza is the eldest son of the last Shah of Iran who was ousted by a popular revolt in 1979. Democratic forces weakened monarchical power in the 1940s, but the US and Britain overthrew Iran’s first popularly elected prime minister, Mohammad Mossadegh, in 1953. Ottawa played a small part in this destruction of Iranian democracy, which led to the reinstatement of the Shah. Canadian officials criticized Mossadegh’s support for nationalizing the country’s oil, stayed mum on his ouster and established diplomatic relations with Iran not long afterwards. During Mohammad-Reza Shah Pahlavi’s brutal reign Canadian politicians visited regularly and sold significant amounts of arms.
This meeting was only the latest example of Canadian officials promoting reactionary regime change forces. In February a dozen Canadian politicians participated in an event organized by the violent, cultish, Mujahedin-e-Khalq (MEK). After significant lobbying from Zionist groups the MEK was removed from Canada’s terror list in 2012. The MEK backed Iraq in the 1980s Iran-Iraq war and, according to US government sources, teamed up with Israel to assassinate Iranian scientists. It is thought to be funded by Saudi Arabia.
On February 4 former ministers John Baird and Tony Clement as well as sitting MPs and senators attended a Toronto event put on by the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), a MEK dominated group. At the event Liberal MP Judy Sgro applauded “MEK, the NCRI and other movements trying to finally get rid of an oppressive group of Mullahs that do not deserve to be there.” Sgro even labeled MEK leader Maryam Rajavi’s 10–point plan a “model for the world”. (Sgro and six other MPs had their expenses paid to attend an MEK conference in Albania last year.)
Simultaneously, Ottawa is adopting evermore sanctions on Iran. Last Sunday foreign affairs minister Melanie Joly announced the “10th sanctions package against the regime”. Global Affairs’ release noted that “147 Iranian individuals and 191 Iranian entities” have been sanctioned since October.
Canadian sanctions reinforce more significant and devastating US sanctions re-imposed after Donald Trump withdrew from the P5+1 nuclear accord in 2018. Last week US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen noted, “our sanctions on Iran have created real economic crisis in the country, and Iran is greatly suffering economically because of the sanctions.” According to UN Special Rapporteur on unilateral coercive measures Alena Douhan, Iran’s ability to acquire important medicines and medical equipment has been “severely undermined” by sanctions.
The sanctions are designed to stoke opposition to the government in the hopes of spurring regime change.
At the same time as they sanction Iran, Canada sells billions of dollars in arms to the country’s regional competitor. More repressive and patriarchal, Saudi Arabia’s foreign policy is also more violent and antidemocratic then Iran’s.
Alongside Canada’s bid to isolate Iran, the US and Israel have been sabotaging Iranian infrastructure and killing its representatives. On Wednesday the Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley told Congress, “we do know that the Iranian Revolutionary Guard [Corps], and specifically their Quds Force … that group there is what we need to be targeting, and targeting them very harshly over time, and that’s exactly what we plan on doing.”
Canada is strengthening reactionary forces amidst a low-level military conflict. Where will this lead?
In a somewhat similar situation Ottawa ignored the political make-up of forces it strengthened in Libya. During their effort to assassinate Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 Canada’s foreign affairs minister declared that the Jihadist “National Transition Council represents the best hope for the future of Libya.” John Baird added, “obviously no government can be worse than the Gaddafi regime.” For six months a Canadian oversaw NATO’s bombing campaign while Canadian fighter jets, naval ships and special forces fought to kill Gaddafi.
Today Libya remains divided. Fourteen months ago presidential elections were postponed partly because Gaddafi son’s, Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, looked likely to win. Recently the UN Independent Fact-Finding Mission on Libya reported on crimes against humanity being committed in Libya.
Canada’s role in Libya ought to give pause to anyone looking for Ottawa to assist in overthrowing Iran’s government. But it appears Canadian officials and politicians care little about the havoc they wreak when sponsoring regime change.