First published at True North on July 14, 2021.
Former Canadian foreign affairs minister John Baird pledged his support to dissidents standing up against the Iranian regime.
Baird spoke Monday at the Free Iran Global Summit, an annual event hosted by the National Council of Resistance (NCRI), an Iranian opposition group seeking a free and secular Iran.
Baird served in former prime minister Stephen Harper’s cabinet when Canada severed diplomatic ties with Iran in 2012, a step Baird called one of his “proudest moments” of public service.
“One of the proudest moments that I had in public life over 20 years in government was the day when Canada made a big decision ten years ago,” he said. “We said that we wanted nothing to do with the terrorist-supporting, human rights-violating regime in Tehran. We formally broke off diplomatic relations with the regime and we kicked the mullahs’ henchmen out of Canada. That was real Canadian leadership”
Baird said he looked forward to NCRI president Maryam Rajavi’s elected government replacing the Iranian regime to “kick the mullahs from power in Tehran.”
Harper spoke at the conference Friday, taking aim at the recent “selection” of Ebrahim Raisi as Iran’s president.
“Ebrahim Raisi is a criminal, guilty of crimes against humanity. He is a living symbol of the folly of trying to appease (Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s) regime,” Harper said.
Baird echoed these concerns in his remarks, calling Raisi’s installation “clear evidence that (the regime) is deeply afraid of the uprisings going on across Iran.”
Raisi is a hard-liner responsible for overseeing mass detentions and executions of political prisoners in Iran.
Baird shared a stern message with Raisi in his remarks.
“You’re not a legitimate leader,” Baird said.”You are not a legitimately elected president. The Iranian people will hold you to account for your actions and the world will hold you accountable for the blood on your hands.”
Other Canadian speakers included former treasury board president Tony Clement, Liberal member of parliament Judy Sgro, and Conservative defense critic James Bezan.