The killing of Iran’s top general and leader of its Revolutionary Guards’ Quds Force by U.S. drone in Baghdad on Thursday evening (EST), evoked disparate reactions from the highest political level in Canada, to the street.
Fourteen hours after the attack that killed Qasem Soleimani, Minister of Foreign Affairs François-Philippe Champagne called for “de-escalation,” “restraint” and “a united Iraq,” while reaction from New Democrats and Conservatives were at opposite ends of the spectrum.
Shortly after Champagne’s statement, Opposition Conservatives released theirs, blaming Quds Force “for violence, destruction and a destabilizing influence across the Middle East”.
In a joint communique, the party’s Foreign Affairs critic Erin O’Toole and Defence critic James Bezan called Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps “a tool of repression and violence in Iran and across the world.”
Around the same time, New Democrat leader Jagmeet Singh took to Twitter to decry “US’ actions in Iran” and “the path Trump was taking”, in Iran.
Following some mockery for mixing up the geography of where Soleimani was killed, Singh returned to the social media platform six hours later with a correction of sorts.
After taking credit on Twitter for the decision to target and kill Soleimani, U.S. President Donald Trump threatened further military strikes against the Iranian regime that has recently backed local militia in Baghdad who stormed the American embassy on New Year’s Eve.
Both Trump and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo allege that Soleiman was planning additional attacks on U.S. assets in the region and that his takedown was necessary to prevent these.
Making the rounds on American television news programs on Saturday, Pompeo indicated that proof of these imminent attacks would be provided in the coming days.
Public Safety Canada has listed Quds Forces as a “terrorist entity” since December 2012, the same year official diplomatic relations were severed by then-PM Stephen Harper, who shuttered the Canadian embassy in Tehran and expelled their diplomats from Ottawa.
While Champagne made no mention of Soleimani’s leadership of Quds Force in his Jan 3rd statement, Conservatives reiterated their calls to list the entire Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps as a “terrorist entity.”
“The Liberals voted for the measure, yet have done nothing to recognize the destructive and destabilizing influence of the IRGC,” said O’Toole and Bezan of the non-binding Conservative motion that MPs supported 248-43 in June of 2018.
A day later on Saturday, Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan announced that Canada’s NATO training mission in Iraq involving 850 soldiers would be suspended citing an alliance statement indicating security of personnel in the region as paramount.
Sajjan conveyed a similar message about a “temporary pause” for the mission on Monday via Twitter.
And coinciding with similar protests in United States, a candlelight vigil for Soleimani took place at University Avenue in Toronto on Saturday night; a pro-Iran demonstration which was met by counter-protestors expressing support of American actions.
Toronto Police attended the scene of the vigil and counter-demonstration to maintain the peace.
In related news, the Council on American Islamic Relations says that more than 60 Iranians and American-Iranians were detained by U.S. Customs agents at a border crossing in Seattle, Washington. According to CAIR, the group was attending a concert in Vancouver.