Mr. Speaker, it is wonderful to rise this morning to speak on a very important issue that is impacting many residents of Iranian or Persian heritage in York Region.
To commence my remarks, I want to say that this Sunday we hosted a Nowruz celebration in my riding, with about 200 people in attendance. It was a wonderful celebration and really illustrated what this country of Canada is about. We had individuals from Iranian or Persian heritage, as well as Bahá'ís or Afghanis from Turkey, Turkish citizens and Turkish people of Kurdish heritage. We also had folks from the Azerbaijani community. I think there were about five or six different communities that I am proud to represent. We had a haft-seen table, which represents the arrival of spring for Nowruz. It was just a wonderful celebration. It represented not only the diversity we have here in Canada but also how inclusive a country we are.
I want to take a moment to say that I will be sharing my time with my hon. colleague from the riding of Humber River—Black Creek. When I was first elected in 2015, my hon. colleague was a friend and mentor and still is someone who is dear to me and my entire family. Therefore, I will be splitting my time with that hon. member.
I also wish not only to comment on the beautiful Nowruz celebration that I hosted with my team and a number of communities but also to say that our government is clearly focused on being there for the Iranian diaspora here in Canada and assisting that community in the fight for liberty and a free, democratic and secular Iran. It is very important to us. It is very important for the community members who were in attendance with me on Sunday evening. The great thing was that when we posted this event on our communication channels, I received probably 15 or 20 direct messages from community members wishing to attend. It just goes to show the vibrancy, dynamism and growth of the Persian community in the city of Vaughan and my riding of Vaughan—Woodbridge.
I wish to thank the committee members for their report and recommendations. To date, the government has taken decisive action to hold the Iranian government accountable for the shooting down of PS752. The passenger flight was shot down by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, killing all 176 passengers and crew, including 55 Canadians and 30 permanent residents of Canada, a number of them from the region of York.
For family members of the victims already in Canada as temporary residents, we have provided a pathway to permanent residency if they fear that returning to Iran could put them at risk. For people who lost family members, we have provided expedited temporary residency visas to allow them to come to Canada to address personal matters and deal with estates. We have offered permanent residency for families of the victims of PS752 in Iran who are at risk of threats of violence and retribution by the Iranian government, especially their security intelligence and police services.
We continue to stand with the victims and their families. We are working with allies to force Iran to provide support and compensation for those who lost their loved ones.
Iran has a history of violent actions and the use of threats and intimidation to force citizens to comply with their demands. Canada and all Canadians stand for human rights and the equality of all. Iran continues to oppress many of its people, carrying out acts of violence against women and children and imprisoning protesters and those who speak out against the regime and its leaders. We have all seen the gruesome pictures on TV of the executions, arrests and beatings by a heinous regime.
Last September, Mahsa Amini, a young Kurdish woman, was detained and killed while in the custody of Iran's so-called morality police. Reports have suggested that she was detained because she was not wearing her hijab in the appropriate manner as designated by Iranian law. Canada strongly condemned this reprehensible and heinous attack, which was the direct result of the systemic harassment and repression of women in Iran. In response to this violence, tens of thousands of people across Iran have held protests, demanding change on behalf of the many victims like Ms. Amini. Women, students and youth have taken to the streets to demand the end of the repressive regime and the violence inflicted on their own people.
The Iranian regime's response has followed the same path as it has in the past. It has only met the demands for equality, human rights and justice with violence and further oppression. To date, thousands of protesters have been injured. Nearly 500 are reported to have been killed, murdered by police, security forces, and again, the so-called morality police. Once again, Canada strongly condemns the violent crackdowns against civilian protesters and the use of force by Iranian authorities against Iran's own civilians. Canada stands with these victims of violence and with those fighting for human rights and equality. We stand with Mahsa Amini and her family. We stand with Iranian women who have been leading the fight for human rights and equality in Iran.
Iranian rock climber Elnaz Rekabi participated in an international competition for her country, but without her hijab. Ms. Rekabi was immediately taken back to Iran and is reported by state authorities to be under house arrest. With their acts of violence against their own people and their denials of co-operation and information to Canada and others over flight PS752, these authorities have shown that they cannot be trusted. We hope that Ms. Rekabi is well and safe.
On the sanctions front, on March 23, Canada further amended the Special Economic Measures Act to list eight additional individuals and two entities in relation to Iran's gross and systemic violations of human rights and ongoing grave breaches of international peace and security. Yesterday, we added our 10th package of sanctions against the regime and the organizations and individuals behind it. To stand with the victims against this senseless violence, the shooting down of PS752 and the oppression of human rights, Canada imposed strict economic sanctions against Iran.
I believe that since October 2022, Canada has now imposed 10 rounds of sanctions under the Special Economic Measures Act in condemnation of Iran's violations of human rights and ongoing breaches of international peace and security. Canada has continued to update and add individuals, organizations and businesses to the list of bans. This has now listed 127 Iranian individuals and 189 entities, as including senior officials in the IRGC and across the regime's security, intelligence and economic apparatus.
On November 14, 2022, Canada announced the designation of the Islamic Republic of Iran as a regime that engages in gross and systemic human rights violations and terrorism. This means that tens of thousands of senior members of the Iranian regime, including many members of the IRGC, are now inadmissible to Canada. This also includes senior political figures; senior public servants; members of the judiciary; and senior leaders in the police, security and intelligence organizations. This move ensures that Canada will not be a safe haven for any Iranian regime officials who may flee Iran in the face of massive protests and demands by its people. It also means that any current or former senior officials in Canada may be investigated and removed if determined to be inadmissible.
In conclusion, the government welcomed the committee's report and has taken comprehensive steps against the Iranian regime. I trust all members of the House will welcome the government's response and support keeping the pressure on this heinous regime, while also supporting the families of those on PS752 and protesters in Iran fighting for human rights and equality.
On a personal note, I have always had a very close relationship with the Persian community, including in British Columbia, going to school with many of my university colleagues at Simon Fraser, visiting them in their homes, being invited to West Vancouver and North Vancouver and travelling down to Los Angeles with some of them many years ago. Of course, in York Region and my city of Vaughan, I have gotten to know this wonderful, dynamic, entrepreneurial and beautiful people; I am proud to be their member of Parliament and friend. I am blessed for it. Our government and all parliamentarians in this House know that we will continue to fight for women, life, liberty and for all Iranian citizens in that country. We know the best days for Iran and its beautiful people are ahead of them, and we will make sure we get to that spot with them.
I look forward to questions and comments.