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Canada sanctions Iranian police force, university as regime cracks down on protests

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OTTAWA — Canada has added Iran’s national police force and an Iranian international university to its sanctions list, even as Parliament calls for Tehran to be expelled from the UN’s Commission on the Status of Women.

Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly announced the sanctions against Iran’s Law Enforcement Forces and Al-Mustafa International University on Monday in response to the Iranian government’s continued crackdown on weeks of protests.

The nationwide protests first erupted over the Sept. 16 death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in the custody of the country’s morality police. She was detained for allegedly violating Iran’s strict dress code for women.

Although the protests first focused on Iran’s mandatory head scarf, or hijab, they have since transformed into one of the greatest challenges to the ruling clerics since the chaotic years following the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

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Joly accused the Law Enforcement Forces of participating in the suppression and detention of Iranian protesters.

Security forces have dispersed gatherings with live ammunition and tear gas over weeks of sustained protests. At least 270 people have been killed and 14,000 arrested, according to the group Human Rights Activists in Iran.

Joly also accused the Iranian government of using Al-Mustafa University, which has branches in several countries, to spread its ideology abroad and recruit foreign fighters.

Canada is also adding four individuals, including the police commander of Tehran, to its sanctions list, which now includes 93 people and 179 entities.

Those listed will have their Canadian-held assets frozen as Ottawa tries to enact a new law to seize those assets and disperse them to victims and human rights defenders.

“The Iranian people, including women and youths, are risking their lives because they have endured for far too long a regime that has repressed and violated their humanity,” Joly said.

“They are demanding that their human rights be respected, and it is our duty to echo and amplify their voices. Canada will continue to support the Iranian people as they courageously demand a better future.”

Hours after the sanctions were revealed, members of Parliament gave unanimous consent to two motions brought forward in the House of Commons in English and French backing Iran’s removal from the UN status of women commission.

The motion echoed a similar call published in an open letter in Sunday’s New York Times that was signed by prominent female politicians from a number of Western countries, including Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland and Joly.

Former prime minister Kim Campbell and human rights activist and author Nazanin Afshin-Jam are the other Canadians on a list of “key signatures” to the letter.

The letter says Iran should have been disqualified for its long-standing, systemic oppression of women, as well as its recent brutality towards human-rights protesters.

Iran began a four-year term on the UN status of women commission earlier this year. Canada is not currently a member.

The sanctions and House of Commons’ motions came as Iranian authorities announced they will hold public trials for 1,000 people over the protests that have convulsed the country.

The mass indictments mark the government’s first major legal action aimed at quashing dissent since unrest erupted more than six weeks ago.

Iran’s state-run IRNA news agency quoted judicial officials as saying that a thousand people who had a central role in the protests would be brought to trial in Tehran alone over their “subversive actions,” including assaulting security guards, setting fire to public property and other accusations.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 31, 2022.

— With files from The Associated Press.

 

Lee Berthiaume, The Canadian Press

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Conservatives are ‘fearmongering’ over assault-style gun ban: public safety minister

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OTTAWA — Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino accuses the Conservatives of “whipping up fear” that the Liberal government is outlawing ordinary long guns and hunting rifles.

In an interview, Mendicino says the government only wants to reinforce a regulatory ban on assault-style firearms like the AR-15 by enshrining a definition in legislation, and it is prepared to work with MPs to get it right.

He insists the government has no intention whatsoever of going after everyday long guns and hunting rifles, calling the notion “Conservative fearmongering.”

In May 2020, the Liberal government announced a ban through order-in-council on over 1,500 models and variants of what it considers assault-style firearms, such as the AR-15 and the Ruger Mini-14.

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The Liberals recently proposed including an evergreen definition of a prohibited assault-style firearm in gun-control legislation being studied by a House of Commons committee.

The Conservatives claim the government’s amendment amounts to the most significant hunting rifle ban in the history of Canada.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 28, 2022.

 

The Canadian Press

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Joly seeks reprimand of Russian ambassador as embassy tweets against LGBTQ community

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OTTAWA — Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly has asked her department to summon Russia’s ambassador over social media postings against LGBTQ people.

In recent days, Russia’s embassy in Ottawa has posted on Twitter and Telegram that the West is imposing on Russia’s family values, and arguing that families can only involve a man, a woman and children.

The embassy has posted images of a crossed-out rainbow flag and Orthodox icons of Adam and Eve.

The tweets came as Russia expanded a ban on exposing children to so-called homosexual propaganda, meaning authorities can now prosecute Russians for doing things they argue might entice adults to be gay or transgender.

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Joly’s office says the posts amount to “hateful propaganda” that must be called out and “an attack on the Canadian values of acceptance and tolerance.”

If Global Affairs Canada follows Joly’s request, it will be the third time the department has summoned ambassador Oleg Stepanov this year.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 28, 2022.

 

The Canadian Press

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Work hard and never give up, Michelle O’Bonsawin says during Supreme Court welcome

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OTTAWA — The newest member of the Supreme Court of Canada says her journey has not been an easy one, but it has been meaningful and rewarding.

Members of the legal community and Michelle O’Bonsawin’s fellow judges welcomed her to the bench in a ceremony today.

O’Bonsawin, who replaced the retiring Michael Moldaver on Sept. 1, is a bilingual Franco-Ontarian and an Abenaki member of the Odanak First Nation.

O’Bonsawin says she is a big believer that if a person has a goal, works hard and never gives up, they can achieve their dreams.

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She adds that while she has made mistakes and fallen down, those missteps have been her teacher.

Richard Wagner, the chief justice of Canada, praises O’Bonsawin’s generosity and volunteer activities, noting she shares his passion for open courts, access to justice and education.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 28, 2022.

 

The Canadian Press

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