Former Prime Minister of Canada Stephen Harper spoke and attended the 2019 Free Iran conference in Albania alongside international dignitaries.
The rally was hosted by the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (MEK), the main opposition group to the ruling regime.
Along with representatives and lawmakers from the United States, France and the United Kingdom, Harper spoke about the proper international response to the repressive Iranian government.
“The only realistic policy is firmness and strength. Impose sanctions, boycott its oil, designate it and its institutions as terrorist organizations and do what my government did in Canada and close down the regime’s embassies around the world,” said Harper to the crowd.
Among those Canadians also in attendance were Liberal MP Judy Sgro, Conservative MP and House Leader Candice Bergen, and former Foreign Affairs Minister for the Harper government John Baird.
“Today I am joined here as I was last year by many Canadians, I am joined both by those who supported my government and those who opposed my government but who are united by your dreams of a new and better Iran,” said Harper.
While a Liberal MP was present, Justin Trudeau has taken a different approach to the more hardline policies Harper has favoured.
Early on in his term as Prime Minister, Trudeau was responsible for lifting sanctions on the current regime, which was still listed as a state sponsor of terrorism.
During the 2015 federal campaign, the Trudeau Liberals committed to re-establish diplomatic relations with Iran. They abandoned this campaign promise in 2018.
The Trudeau government continues to face criticism for attempting to cozy up to the Iranian regime. Liberal MP Majid Jowhari faced outrage from Iranian-Canadians after he sent out tweets which seemed to legitimize the current theocratic regime. Jowhari also courted controversy for sponsoring the opening of an Iranian embassy and meeting with government officials from the country.
It was under Harper’s tenure in government that the MEK was removed from a governmental blacklist which designated it as a terrorist entity. The Harper government along with governments from the United States and the UK were among the first to exonerate the group of the designation.
Harper has consistently taken a hardline approach against Iran. Most recently, Harper publicly supported President Trump’s withdrawal from the ineffective Iran Nuclear Deal.