Trudeau government puts Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps on terror watch list

On January 8, 2020, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps killed 55 Canadian citizens and 30 permanent residents aboard Ukraine Airlines flight 752.

Trudeau government puts Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps on terror watch list
The Canadian Press / Cole Burston
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The Trudeau government has blacklisted Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a terror group—more than four years after killing dozens of Canadians mid-flight.

Cabinet Wednesday afternoon adopted an all-party recommendation of the Commons justice committee to label the IRGC as a terrorist entity. They did not elaborate on other suggested measures.

“I’m here to announce that our government has made the decision to list the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist entity under the Criminal Code,” Public Safety Minister Dominic LeBlanc told reporters.

“This action sends a strong message that Canada will use all of the tools at its disposal to combat the terrorist entity of the IRGC,” he said.

On January 8, 2020, the Iranian military group shot down Ukraine Airlines flight 752 over Tehran, killing 55 Canadian citizens and 30 permanent residents.

Members of Parliament voted unanimously in May to blacklist the IRGC in a non-binding motion, after considerable delays spanning several years.

The Official Opposition made note of a similar motion in 2018 that passed but did not receive a prompt response.

“As a result of that delay, the IRGC has been able to grow stronger as a result of Trudeau’s inaction,” said foreign affairs critic Michael Chong and deputy leader Melissa Lantsman in a statement.

“They have been allowed to fundraise, recruit and operate in Canada while terrorizing countless Iranian Canadians who fled to Canada to escape the IRGC in the first place.”

The Trudeau government contends that listing the group as a terrorist entity could affect people coerced into joining the organization.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau earlier deflected when asked for a terror designation. “We continue to watch and make sure we’re able to do everything we can … against the IRGC,” he said last November 14.

On January 8, Rebel News attempted to ask Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland why her government dragged its feet on the terror designation. She did not respond at the time.

When asked to justify this delay, Minister LeBlanc said such decisions are not made “because of comments on Twitter or question period.”

“It’s made based on the advice of our security services, it’s made based on foreign policy considerations,” he said.

“It’s a deliberative process, it’s a threshold that has to be met under the Criminal Code of Canada.”

Justice Minister Arif Virani said there is an elevated criminal intent requirement to any prosecutions under that provision.

To meet the threshold, people who send money to Iran must have the explicit intent of supporting terrorism, he said. 

That threshold also applies to former IRGC members.

Canada previously listed the Quds Force, a branch of the Revolutionary Guard, as a terrorist entity.

Entities are reviewed by security agencies on a monthly basis, Minister LeBlanc added.

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). 

Minister LeBlanc reiterated that designation Wednesday.

“The Iranian regime has consistently displayed disregard for human rights, both inside and outside of Iran,” he said. “Our government will ensure that there is no immunity for Iran's unlawful actions and its support of terrorism.”

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.

LeBlanc did not comment on the progress made. “Thousands of senior Iranian government officials, including top IRGC members, are inadmissible to Canada,” he told reporters.

The justice committee in a December 6 report recommended blacklisting under the Criminal Code in addition to expelling an “estimated 700 Iranian agents operating in Canada.”

“There is a timeliness to all of this,” MP Lantsman said at the time.

Earlier media reports said roughly 700 people in Canada have suspected ties to Iran and have allegedly threatened Khamenei’s critics while in the country.

As of November 20, CBSA denied 78 individuals entry into Canada following a review of roughly 17,800 visa applications for potential inadmissibility.

“These shameful acts have one goal, to terrorize Canadians,” said Conservative MP Rob Moore, sponsor of the motion to blacklist Iranian terrorists. “This cannot be tolerated.”

“All Canadians must be able to freely live their lives and follow their dreams without fear and without intimidation.”

Courtesy of tips from the public and referrals from the Department of Immigration, the border agency is investigating 141 persons of interest with status in Canada. Only 38 of those cases have received considerable developments, reported CBC News.

Of those 38, Canada deemed 10 inadmissible with nine others before the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) to assess their admissibility into Canada. 

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