June 13, 2018
Hon. Dennis Glen Patterson: My question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate and is also on Iran.
On May 8, you spoke to the third reading of Bill S-219, the Non-Nuclear Sanctions Against Iran Bill and stated:
. . . the government must respectfully oppose it, for it is the responsibility of the Government of Canada to speak for Canada’s foreign policy intentions.
Yesterday, in the other place, I was pleased to see that the government voted in favour of a Conservative motion on Iran that called upon the government to demand that the Iranian regime immediately release all Canadians who are currently detained in Iran, including Maryam Mombeini, the widow of Professor Seyed-Emami. She has been barred from leaving Iran.
Senator Harder, given this new foreign policy intention, could you please update this chamber on what actions the government will take to secure her release from Iran so that she may finally return home to Canada?
Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate): Again, I thank the honourable senator for his question. Certainly, the intent of his question, the spirit of his question, is to ensure that all steps and appropriate actions are taken to secure the release. As the government has said publicly, it has engaged bilaterally on multiple occasions and multilaterally with like-minded countries on issues of human rights and the well-being of Canadians.
It would be inappropriate for me or for the government, for that matter, to say publicly all of these steps, lest their becoming public undermines our objective. The Minister of Foreign Affairs and all of the officials at the Department of Foreign Affairs are pursuing every avenue possible to deal with the consular issues and the well-being of Canadians who have been referenced in the question.
Senator Patterson: Thank you for that answer. I would like to draw your attention also to the fact that the motion specifically named Saeed Malekpour, a Canadian permanent resident who has been held in Iran’s notorious Evin Prison since 2008.
Could you also update this chamber on whether Mr. Malekpour’s release will now be sought by our government?
Senator Harder: Again, I thank the honourable senator. I want to assure him that it is not now that we as the Government of Canada are engaged in these efforts. It has been for some time, and those efforts are ongoing, and it is not unhelpful, as the government determined yesterday, to have that expressed in the House of Commons.