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Canada’s Conservatives to Push for Iran Sanctions

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Issue: 68 Section: Foreign Policy Geography: Middle East Israel, Iran Topics: nuclear, G20

May 29, 2010

Canada’s Conservatives to Push for Iran Sanctions

Israeli nukes not a concern

by Stefan Christoff

Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs Lawrence Cannon addresses the Conference on Facilitating the Entry Into Force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty in September 2009. [cc 2.0] Photo: CTBTO

MONTREAL—In the lead-up to the G8 summit in Canada, Conservative politicians in Ottawa are pushing publicly for increased sanctions on Iran.

Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon has indicated he will lobby for severe sanctions at the elite summit, to take place June 25-27, 2010.

“Canada will continue to use its G8 presidency to focus international attention and action on Iran,” a representative of the office of Minister Cannon told The Dominion. “We believe that further sanctions authorized by the United Nations Security Council are needed.”

China’s reluctance to back US attempts to introduce strict sanctions on Iran has set the stage for the upcoming G8 summit to serve as gathering where the US and Canada will unite in favour of a more hard-line position on Iran. China holds a permanent seat at the UN Security Council, but it is not a member country of the G8.

The Conservative government’s plan to utilize the upcoming G8 summit as a platform to apply pressure on Iran is central to its intervention strategy in contemporary Middle Eastern politics. Often left out of the global political drama surrounding the Iranian government’s relationship to nuclear power is the region’s only current nuclear power: the Israeli government in Tel Aviv.

At the recent US Nuclear Security Summit, President Barack Obama pushed for world leaders to scale back major nuclear development, and build an increasing global consensus in support of sanctions on Iran.

What sanctions...accomplish is, hopefully, to change the calculus of a country like Iran, so that they see that there are more costs and fewer benefits to pursuing a nuclear-weapons program,” Obama said at the summit.

Also absent from serious scrutiny at the summit was the massive US nuclear stockpile or any criticism of the Israeli nuclear program. “As far as Israel goes, I’m not going to comment on their program,” said Obama. The Canadian government has issued no criticism of the existing Israeli nuclear arsenal, even though they have pushed for Iran to end its nuclear program. The fact that Israel is left out of the discussion is not an accident, according to Shourideh Molavi, a Toronto-based Iranian writer.

“Canada is moving toward a second phase of a major foreign policy project they have already started, which is to develop deeper ties with Israel, in regards to security and military policy,” said Molavi. “So when it comes to Iran they want to use the G8 as a platform to push for sanctions within this framework.”

Canada’s intense support for the Israeli government has shaped a new era of Canada-Israel relations. Ottawa has arguably emerged as the staunchest pro-Israel capital in the world.

“Canada is so friendly that there was no need to convince or explain anything to anyone,” said right wing Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, after a recent meeting in Ottawa with Canadian Foreign Minister Cannon. “We had amiable talks in a supportive atmosphere...we need allies like this in the international arena,” he said.

Beyond talk of sanctions, Iran is currently experiencing major turmoil. Massive protests swept across the country last summer after an election widely seen as tainted led to the victory of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Social movements globally expressed solidarity with the protest movement in Iran. Political leaders in Europe, the US and Canada also backed the protest movement.

“With Iran in the picture, Ottawa is using any avenue they can to build support for sanctions on Iran, including manipulative positions towards the protest movement in Iran,” Molavi told The Dominion. “Canada is claiming that they support the people in Iran, while pushing for sanctions that will impact the poorest people in the country first.”

Canada’s attempts to lock in sanctions on Iran contradict the demands of leading dissidents in Iran, including Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi.
“We oppose military attack on Iran or economic sanctions because that’s to the detriment of the people,” Ebadi said in March 2010.

Canada’s appeal for “further sanctions” on Iran will be in the media spotlight during the Toronto G8 summit.

It will be critical for grassroots movements organizing in opposition to the G8 summit in Canada to identify the major gaps between the push by G8 leaders for sanctions and the anti-sanctions positions of Iran’s most vocal opposition leaders.

Stefan Christoff is a regular contributor to The Dominion and is at

This story was published in The Dominion's special issue on the G8 and G20 summits in Ontario. We will continue to publish independent, investigative news about the G8 and G20 throughout the month of June.

For up-to-the-minute G8/G20 news from the streets of Toronto, visit the Toronto Media Co-op.

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The Dominion is a monthly paper published by an incipient network of independent journalists in Canada. It aims to provide accurate, critical coverage that is accountable to its readers and the subjects it tackles. Taking its name from Canada's official status as both a colony and a colonial force, the Dominion examines politics, culture and daily life with a view to understanding the exercise of power.

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