The Canadian House of Commons is one of few parliaments in the world to have formally acknowledged and denounced one of the worst crimes against humanity in recent history. In the summer of 1988, Ayatollah Khomeini issued a religious edict ordering the death of any political prisoner who failed to demonstrate loyalty to the regime.
To be sure, Professor Hoodfar's release highlights the benefits of diplomatic engagement and could be the beginning of a shift in Canada-Iran relations. While Canada's closest international partners re-engage Iran and establish diplomatic and/or economic ties, Ottawa has understandably been taking its time on playing catch up.
The Islamic Republic of Iran has mounted a full court press to persuade the global financial community to overlook its long rap sheet of financial crimes. In recent weeks, two of the Islamic Republic's most savvy diplomats were on the offensive to persuade the Obama administration to green light Iran's access to U.S. dollar transactions.
It's not surprising that young people are Canada's most active volunteers, representing about 66 per cent of those who give their time for a cause. Time is, after all, on their side. But our country's volunteering numbers might surprise you. In 2013, 4 out of 10 Canadians volunteered, putting in 1,957,000,000 total hours. This week, National Volunteer Week, we celebrate them, while also asking: How do they do it?
Despite its internal problems, Pakistan is slowly emerging as a key cog in the geopolitics of the region. In light of the OPEC market share war and the Syrian crisis, both Iran and Saudi Arabia are looking to tilt the power balance in their favour - a balance that lies with Pakistan as a military power. Instead of gravitating towards its traditional Sunni ally in Saudi Arabia, Pakistan is attempting to play a positive role in diffusing tensions between the two regional powers while also keeping its interests in mind.
Frequently underlying the purported threat Obama represents to his own country is innuendo about his 'true' identity accompanied by allegations about the hidden Islamist tendencies. Given the absence of any proof to support such ludicrous assertions, 'Obamabashers' conduct whisper campaigns often around dinner tables or other social gatherings.
What Iranians lived in that time -- what they channeled through their intellectual salons and prison letters, their dreams and childhood memories -- felt to me like an epic novel, replete with calamities and reversals, crescendos and epiphanies, and a sweeping arc of history that cut through its core.
As international sanctions against Iran were lifted over the weekend and as U.S.-Iranian relations dominated the headlines, Canadian Foreign Minister Stéphane Dion implied on the sidelines of a Cabinet-level retreat that the Government is considering dropping its sanctions against Iran, a move that would align Canada with its closest international partners. That the government recognizes the economic and strategic disadvantages associated with its inherited Iran policy is a major step toward constructive re-engagement with Tehran.
As "Implementation Day" of the historic nuclear deal between world powers and Iran approaches, during which Iran will begin fulfilling the bulk of its end of the agreement while sanctions by the United Nations, United States and the European Union are removed, Canada must begin planning for the eventual restoration of ties with Iran in keeping with the new Trudeau government's affirmation to re-engage Tehran.
Canada's strength is not in its fleet of aircraft carriers, but in its moral capital. When our foreign policy reflects our core values, pluralism, diversity, tolerance and empathy then we can expect amplification of our influence around the world. Hearts and minds of population, tired of perpetual violence, is not won through military muscle, but by the ability to defuse conflict and tireless effort to establish and maintain peace.
International relations with Iran suffered under Stephen Harper. There's a noteworthy Iranian-Canadian community scattered across Canada, which has nurtured prominent artists, scientists, scholars, business people, entrepreneurs, journalists and even politicians who maintain close relations with the fellow citizens living in Iran. Now, as the Liberal government of Justin Trudeau is soon to be inaugurated, Iranians living in Canada and their compatriots at home are wishing for a quick and immediate normalization of the relations between Tehran and Ottawa.
Despite the vitriol stemming from both capitals, the extremist threat is the appropriate issue to spark a strategic recalculation in Tehran and Tel Aviv, even if temporary. Although the idea of Iranian-Israeli engagement may seem to be rooted in fantasy, the same factors that prompted the United States and Iran to try something new can and should drive Iran and Israel to follow suit.