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CIC National Capital: Politics @ the Pub: Responsible Conviction: The Future of Canada’s Relationship with Iran

April 25, 2016 @ 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm EDT


In 2012, Canada withdrew its diplomatic presence in Iran, citing security concerns following the assault on the British Embassy by hardline agitators. Going even further, Canada expelled all Iranian diplomats, listed Iran as a state supporter of terrorism (under the State Immunity Act), and included elements of the state as terrorist entities under the Criminal Code.

In July 2015, the five permanent members of the UN Security Council (China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States) plus Germany, led by the European Union, concluded a historic agreement with Iran on its nuclear program called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). The agreement was endorsed unanimously by UN Security Council Resolution 2231 (2015). Its implementation was verified by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in early 2016.

Since then, the British government reestablished a diplomatic presence in Iran and other European countries began exploring enhanced relations with the Islamic Republic. Numerous trade delegations from a host of countries have been to Tehran. While the rest of the world sought to ease tensions and create common ground through engagement, the Conservative government of Canada at the time maintained its strict policy of non-engagement and denunciation.

Canada’s new Liberal government lifted its own nuclear program-related sanctions in February, although other sanctions remain and diplomatic relations have yet to be rekindled. Canadian Foreign Minister Dion emphasized reopening channels with Iran as an example of the country’s new foreign policy doctrine of “responsible conviction”.

During the 1990s, commercial relations between the two countries expanded and Iran became one of Canada’s most important trading partners in the Middle East. Today, with falling oil prices and a shifting geopolitical landscape in the Middle East, Iran seems like a natural business partner for Canada. Iran imports grains, beef, and other agricultural products that Canada produces. It badly needs planes, trains, automobile components, and a host of industrial products to update its economy. Trade that could help give new life to Canada’s manufacturing sector. Canada’s economic interests are aligned with strong economic relations with Iran.

On the other hand, Iran has a poor human rights record. Its position towards Israel is unacceptable to Canada, it maintains support for Hezbollah in Lebanon, as well as the Assad regime in Syria. How should Canada proceed with Iran? What should re-engagement look like?

Our panel of experts will discuss Canada’s Iran policy and its future direction:

Paul Dewar: Paul Dewar is the former Member of Parliament for Ottawa Centre and the NDP Critic for Foreign Affairs. He was first elected in 2006 and was re-elected with increased support in 2008 and 2011. Paul also sat on the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development, and on the Special Committee on the Canadian Mission in Afghanistan. As the NDP Foreign Affairs Critic for nearly a decade, Paul pressed the government to meet its global commitments on aid and peacekeeping, and worked to ensure Canadian companies operating abroad respected the rights of local workers and communities.

Sven Jurschewsky: After a 40 year career in Canada’s foreign service, Sven Jurschewsky retired in late 2014. Postings included positions in Vienna at the IAEA and other UN agencies; Berlin as Head of the Military Mission; Paris as Political Advisor to the Paris Club Delegation; Beijing as Head of the Political Section; and New Delhi for security and commercial intelligence. Following the 2012 closure of the Canadian Embassy in Iran, Sven was posted to the UAE to establish a collection network for the virtual embassy to Iran. There he was mandated to establish a network of officers already at missions to collect Iran-centered information from members of the local Iranian diaspora, and other persons knowledgeable on Iranian current events. This information was used to inform the messaging of Canada’s virtual embassy to Iran, as well as that of senior decision-makers.

Akbar Manoussi is a Professor with Carleton University’s School of Business and is also part of the faculty of the University of Ottawa. His academic career has spanned over 30 years during which he has published extensively at the intersection of business, policy, and the Middle East, on topics such as OPEC oil diplomacy and Islamic finance. Dr. Manoussi recently returned from a trip to Iran where he was invited to present on Canadian commercial interests at the University of Tehran, the University of Sharif, and several regional chambers of commerce. His recent and expert insights into Iranian economics and politics provide a unique lens into possibilities for Canadian trade with Iran and its potential impact on enabling reforms.

Date and Time
Monday April 25, 2016
6:00pm to 8:00pm

Hooley’s Pub
292 Elgin Street
Ottawa, ON  K2P 1M3

Tickets will be sold at the door. Admission include a beer.
CIC Member ………………………………$5
Non-Member …………………………….$10


April 25, 2016
6:00 pm - 8:00 pm EDT