Ottawa has ramped up its efforts against Iran after launching a deportation case against a senior official last month.
Seyed Salman Samani, 42, is the first Iranian official to face a deportation hearing under sanctions imposed by the federal government a year ago.
In November 2022, then-public safety minister Marco Mendicino designated Iran a "regime that has engaged in terrorism and systematic and gross human rights violations" under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA).
That announcement made tens of thousands of Iranian officials and IRGC members inadmissible to Canada, with the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) denying entry to dozens of officials and their affiliates.
Courtesy of tips from the public and referrals from Immigration Canada, CBSA is investigating 141 persons of interest with status in Canada.
As of writing, nine officials are set to appear before the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) to assess their admissibility into Canada.
Among the officials to receive an admissibility hearing is Samani, Iran’s deputy minister of the interior — the department responsible for widespread human rights abuses.
“Samani was referred for an admissibility hearing on Nov. 10, 2023,” said IRB spokesperson Anna Pape. She did not disclose further information about him.
Outside of Samani, the identities of the other officials remain disclosed under the Privacy Act, reported Global News.
Of the other eight cases, CBSA told the publication they withdrew one case, as the person already left Canada, with another official facing an impending hearing.
“The CBSA cannot comment on where any person may be residing, however, we can say that the CBSA only requests admissibility hearings for persons presently in Canada,” said spokesperson Guillaume Bérubé.
Regarding the second deportation case, the IRB did not disclose any details or the identity of the accused.
“A second referral was just received, and the ID [Immigration Division] is in the process of determining what information can be shared,” said IRB spokesperson Anna Pape.
Paperwork on the remaining cases is still being prepared before it is sent to the IRB, she confirmed.
Global learned that roughly 700 people in Canada have suspected ties to the Iranian regime with some allegedly threatening Khamenei’s critics while in the country.
As of November 20, CBSA has denied 78 individuals entry into Canada following a review of roughly 17,800 visa applications for potential inadmissibility.
"I think any member of the IRGC that willingly served — not conscripts, but willingly served — should be kicked out of the country,” said Kaveh Shahrooz, a human rights activist, lawyer and senior fellow at the Macdonald-Laurier Institute.
"But ultimately, it doesn't take away from our goal of making the entirety of the IRGC a terrorist organization," he added.
On November 14, a reporter asked Prime Minister Justin Trudeau if he 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. The strike killed all 176 people on board, including 55 Canadian citizens and 30 permanent residents upon impact.
On Samani, Shahrooz said it’s impossible to climb the ranks to deputy minister without being “loyal to the system.”
“They see it as an easy country to get into, to bring their money and launder their money here,” added the activist. “And frankly, I think it’s also because our officials are just not taking this issue as seriously as they should.”
He called Canada a "safe haven" for regime members.