Canada has become a safe haven for loyalists to the Islamic Republic of Iran, according to a Global News exclusive.
On November 14, the publication asked Prime Minister Justin Trudeau if his government would designate Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard (IRGC) as a terrorist organization, amid renewed calls by its critics. "We continue to watch and make sure we’re able to do everything we can that is responsible against the impact of the IRGC," he said.
The IRGC, the paramilitary organization backing Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, shot down Ukraine Airlines flight 752 over Tehran on January 8, 2020, with two surface-to-air missiles.
They killed all 176 people on board, including 55 Canadian citizens and 30 permanent residents upon impact.
"As I have said many times, the Iranian regime responsible for the shooting down of PS752, killing of its own citizens and killing of Canadian citizens, its sponsorship of terror around the world, means that we will continue to do everything necessary," said Trudeau, in a pledge to hold Iran account for the international incident.
Canada, Sweden, Ukraine and the U.K. previously committed to referring the matter to Iran at the International Court of Justice (ICJ).
Meanwhile, Global learned an alarming number of people in Canada with ties to the Islamic Republic of Iran have allegedly threatened Khamenei’s critics.
“We have about 700 names, right now, that either have temporary residence, permanent residence or citizenship, that are in Canada, and are somehow regime affiliates,” said B.C. Immigration lawyer Ramon Joubin.
He contends some of those individuals came to Canada "knowing this is going to be their safe haven."
On October 29, 2022, Trudeau acknowledged regime agents "are hiding amongst […] this beautiful community," reiterating that Canada would "never again [be] a haven for killers, murders, and those responsible for the repression of Iranian people."
On Tuesday, he defended his government’s record, referencing a list of measures used to permanently ban senior IRGC members from entering Canada, but did not comment on the investigation’s findings.
However, that did not stop a senior Iranian minister — who served when the IRGC downed flight PS752 — from entering Canada this summer, according to Global.
Eyewitnesses spotted Seyed Hassan Ghazizadeh Hashemi in Montreal and Toronto on vacation last August. At the time, he reportedly threatened Canadian citizen Hamed Esmaeilion, whose wife and daughter perished aboard flight PS752.
On August 28, Immigration Minister Marc Miller denied Hashemi’s application for temporary residence due to "Iran’s disregard for human rights," with a subsequent three-year ban from entering the country.
Joubin suggests the next logical step is to either designate the IRGC as a terrorist organization or explain why they won’t.
"If you don’t want to do it, give us a reason," he said. "The lack of transparency and straightforwardness [is] upsetting and not something I want to see in Canadian politics."
In a statement from Public Safety Minister Dominic LeBlanc on the matter, a Public Safety spokesperson said: "Foreign interference by state and non-state actors targets numerous facets of our society — and those first and most impacted are often diaspora communities."
"Any attempts by foreign agents to intimidate or coerce Canadian citizens on Canadian soil is simply unacceptable," it reads. "Our government has a series of tools to combat foreign interference. We are continuously looking at ways to adapt our measures in light of evolving threats."
Conservative Party leader Pierre Poilievre took exception with the lack of political will from the Liberals in failing to designate the IRGC a terror group as of writing.
"To think that we might have terrorist-linked Iranian regime thugs operating with impunity, spending stolen money and intimidating Canadian Jews and Iranians is appalling," he said.
Poilievre pledged a tougher approach on the Islamic Republic of Iran if elected as prime minister, calling Joubin’s estimate "staggering." He urged the feds to take "immediate action to kick them [Iranian agents] out of this country."