OTTAWA: Canada will follow the US and EU lead and lift economic sanctions against Iran in order to allow market access for Canadian businesses like plane builder Bombardier, Foreign Affairs Minister Stephane Dion said Tuesday.
“Canada will remove those sanctions,” Dion said in response to questions in the House of Commons.
Outside parliament, Dion later told reporters that lifting sanctions would allow Canadian companies to join EU and US firms now rushing to do business in Iran.
“If (Europe’s) Airbus is able to do it, why would Bombardier not be able to do it?” the minister asked.
“In which way it’s helping Canada or the Iranian people or Israel or anyone that Canada is hurting its own industry?”
No timeline or details were given. Dion only said that sanctions would be lifted “in a speedily fashion.”
The announcement comes weeks after a deal reached between Tehran and world powers came into force, allowing the United States and the European Union to begin lifting economic barriers brought in over Iran’s nuclear program.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has signaled an openness to also restoring diplomatic relations with Iran, saying Tehran has made “significant movement” toward dismantling parts of its programme that the West feared could have led to the manufacture of nuclear weapons.
Canada broke diplomatic ties with Iran in 2012.
At the time, the previous Tory administration issued a strongly worded attack on the Islamic republic’s support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, its “incitement to genocide” against Israel, and its leaders’ failure to account for their nuclear program.
Ties were also strained by Tehran’s jailing of Iranian-born Canadians. Iran does not recognize dual nationality and authorities have denied Canadian detainees consular protection.
In 2013, Ottawa imposed a near-total trade embargo on Iran that included economic sanctions and travel restrictions against 78 officials and 508 organizations.
Dion chastised the previous Tory administration for having cut diplomatic ties with Tehran, calling the move “ideological and irrational,” while touting engagement instead.
“Whenever you have a disagreement with a regime, you don’t pull out, you work harder to be sure that you will see improvement,” Dion said.
“It’s what our allies did in negotiating with Iran an agreement that is good for the world.”