John Baird, former Foreign Minister of Canada, addressing the panel on “Policy review on Iran” in Paris on June 30, 2017. Moderator was Ambassador Lincoln Bloomfield, distinguished fellow and Chairman Emeritus at the Stimson Center, former Assistant Secretary of State for Military Affairs.
Remarks by John Baird follow:
Thank you very much for having me. I think we need to speak with greater moral clarity on the threat that this regime poses, not just to the Iranian people itself, each and every day to its neighbors. I completely reject the previous US administration’s leadership trying to engage and appease at all cost, I think that sends a terrible message to the people of Iran.
I think if you look at the whole notion of Rouhani as a moderate and the propagation of that myth, not just by the lobbyists for the mullahs and the regime but frankly by a lot of Western leaders, a lot of Western governments. I can remember being in the Canadian parliament and getting a question from the Liberal Party in opposition, saying whether we’re going to work with the newly elected government in Iran and then I said it was illegitimate and they were gassed. And I said how could any presidential election be legitimate when the number one, 51% of the population weren’t even allowed to stand for election, let alone having to be you know endorsed by a panel of the mullahs to even stand as a candidate. So I think, first and foremost we need to speak with greater moral clarity. I think the terms of political discourse are tremendously important. And one final opening comment is, I’ve seen in the last five years, six years, so many people who I admire and respect, literally pushing people aside to try to embrace Rouhani when he first visited the U.N. as president, or the number of again people who I respect and admire you know, flying in to kiss the ring in Teheran with large business delegations.
And I think frankly we must be a lot stronger than that, it’s not all about the almighty dollar and about the advancement of a nation’s commercial interests. The people of Iran are watching, they will remember. They will remember who stood by them and who lacked the strength and the courage of their convictions.
Thank you very much.