By Kevin Gallagher
OTTAWA (CTV Network) — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Monday responded to calls for Canada to list the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a terrorist entity, saying this could happen if done “responsibly.”
The comment was made at a memorial for the victims of Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752, which was shot down by the IRGC over Tehran on Jan. 8, 2020.
“We will continue our work, including continuing to look for ways to responsibly list the IRGC as a terrorist organization,” the prime minister announced to applause from grieving families.
Of the 176 people killed when the commercial airliner was shot down, 55 were Canadian citizens and 30 were permanent residents.
The IRGC says the plane was mistaken for a hostile target, as tensions between Iran and the United States were high after the American assassination of Iranian Maj.-Gen. Qasem Soleimani.
The families of those victims have called for the powerful paramilitary group to be listed as a terrorist organization in Canada for years.
“The government must end the delay,” Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre said in a statement. “Canada must be a leader in condemning the actions of these terrorists and stand in solidarity with the victims and their families.”
Canada did declare the Qods Force, a branch of the Revolutionary Guard, a terrorist group in 2012.
It’s known as the external affairs branch of the IRGC, responsible for developing ties with militant groups across the region, including Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza, according to the Council on Foreign Relations.
“Canadian law needs to be much stronger,” said Ramin Joubin, a lawyer based in British Columbia.
Joubin created an organization aimed at tracking IRGC activity and influence in Canada.
He says over the past year and three months, he’s received more than 700 public tips about IRGC activity.
“We look at every case,” Joubin said.
He says Canadian law enforcement would have more tools to prosecute Iranian influence, intimidation and harassment of Canadian citizens if the IRGC was put on Canada’s terrorism list, including freezing financial assets and allowing police to charge anyone who financially or materially supports groups on the list.
“[The IRGC] smell[s] weakness in your legislation, they’re going to come in and they’re going to take advantage of that,” Joubin said.
The federal government has said it’s reluctant to label Iran’s Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization because many of its members are conscripts.
The United States declared the IRGC a terrorist group in 2019 under then-president Donald Trump.
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