Kenney on Iran

While announcing his department’s crackdown on immigration fraud, Jason Kenney was asked about the government’s decision to cut diplomatic ties with Iran and whether would be any impact on Canadians who need consular services or Iranians who might be hoping to immigrate.

Well, first of all, I should say that we closed our immigration bureau in Tehran a few months ago frankly I can say now in anticipation of this decision with respect to the embassy and we continue to provide visas, visa services for Iranian nationals seeking to visit Canada out of our Ankara office in Turkey and we’re exploring the possibility of establishing what is called a visa application centre which is – which would be like a contact presence in Tehran which some other governments have.

So Iranian nationals will be able to continue to apply to immigrate to Canada or to visit Canada and we will continue to welcome them if they are admissible. I should point out however that we are being very rigorous in applying this, the screen on admissibility for Iranian nationals seeking to immigrate to Canada. Many in the Persian community in Canada have been concerned that people who have been close to or members of the regime and their relatives, they believe have in too many cases been able to establish residency in Canada and we want to ensure that people who may be inadmissible, that is to say those who perhaps are associated with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, the Al-Qud’s Force, the Basij or senior members of the regime are not admissible to Canada under section 34 through 36 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

In terms of the actual closure of the embassy, I think the prime minister and minister Baird have spoken to that and in terms of safety, our first concern is for the safety of our diplomats and our public servants there. It was clear to us that following the ransacking of the embassy of the United Kingdom last year, that embassies deemed unfriendly by the Iranian regime were targets for that kind of violence and that given the situation, we just could not with confidence, keep that embassy open, given that our – the need for security for our people.

The last point on consular cases, look, I’ve been very involved in some of the Iranian consular cases. It’s important to understand that the Iranian regime refuses to recognize dual citizenship. So if an Iranian national comes to Canada, becomes a citizen, goes back with a Canadian passport, the Iranian government refuses to recognize that they are Canadians and quite frankly this means that our efforts to defend the consular interests of Canadian citizens in the Iranian jails have been – have had no traction because you know, we send a diplomat off to the ministry of Foreign Affairs to demand consular access and they say “I’m sorry, this person is an Iranian, we don’t recognize this person as a Canadian” and that’s the end of discussion and this is one of the reasons for our frustration quite frankly, that even our more vigorous efforts to represent the interests of these individuals have been completely and consistently stonewalled but we will, as the prime minister said, use whatever means we can through other governments and through other channels to represent the interests of those individuals.