Justin Trudeau

Will Canada change its policy toward Iran?

TEHRAN, Iran — Canadian Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau defeated the incumbent Conservatives on the back of promises of change on Oct. 19, after nearly a decadelong rule by former Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Among Trudeau’s most significant campaign pledges on foreign policy was political re-engagement with countries such as Iran, which had seen deteriorating bilateral relations under Harper.

On Sept. 7, 2012, Canada’s then-Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird made the unexpected announcement that diplomatic relations with Iran would be cut at a news conference in Russia. The Conservative government cited Iran’s failure to protect Canadian diplomatic personnel, support for the Syrian government and stance toward Israel, among other issues, to justify the move. However, last year, national broadcaster CBC revealed the findings of an internal investigation into the safety of Canadian diplomats in Tehran.

The probe’s results were in stark contrast with the assertions of Harper’s government; it outright concluded that there was no tangible threat against Canadian personnel stationed in Iran. Professor Dane Rowlands, who directs Carleton University’s Norman Paterson School of International Affairs, told Al-Monitor he believes the “largely symbolic act” of cutting diplomatic ties was not in the interest of Ottawa. “To close an embassy except under extreme circumstances is, I think, an admission of diplomatic failure,” Rowlands told Al-Monitor.

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This article was written by Maysam Bizær for Al-Monitor on Nov. 27, 2015. Maysam Bizær is the former editor-in-chief of the Iran Desk at Press TV’s website department. He has worked for various local media and has been a contributor to a number of foreign media outlets.