Canadians of a certain age remember well the exchange between Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau and reporters in Ottawa on Oct. 13, 1970, over troop deployment during the crisis then unfolding in Quebec.
Trudeau responded to questions regarding soldiers on Canadian streets saying, “Yes, well, there are a lot of bleeding hearts around who just don’t like to see people with helmets and guns.”
I was reminded of this encounter between Trudeau and journalists Tim Ralfe from the CBC and Peter Reilly of CJOH-TV, when a similar cackle of noise from lots of bleeding hearts in the country rose in unison in opposition to Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his government’s decision to suspend diplomatic ties with Iran.
The announcement by Foreign Minister John Baird to recall Canadian diplomats from Tehran and expel Iranian officials in Ottawa, in retrospect, could not have been more timely given the spike in orchestrated Islamist violence across the Middle East and North Africa during the past week and a half.
The decision itself, as Baird explained, reflected the carefully drawn assessment of the untenable relationship with the Iranian regime bent upon a destructive and lawless course of behaviour in the region and internationally over many years, going all the way back to its revolutionary seizure of power in 1979.
The Iranian regime founded by Ayatollah Khomeini and his radical Shiite Muslim followers is boastful about exporting the Islamic revolution, and its intent to destroy Israel.
It makes no attempt to hide or deny its role as the fountainhead of Islamist terrorism, as the principal backer of Hamas, Hezbollah and the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Asaad, and its refusal to comply with the UN Security Council resolutions relating to its nuclear policy.
Iran is a rogue regime both by choice and as a deliberate policy set forth by Khomeini. It is committed in opposing the United States, as the “Great Satan,” and its allies, including Canada, for the values of freedom and democracy they represent, and to weaken and diminish their presence in the Middle East.
But, most importantly, Harper came to recognize with a stunning clarity that is just about unique among leaders in the West of how utterly depraved and hell-bent on rogue behaviour is the Iranian regime of Khomeini’s followers, and that Tehran needs to be isolated by self-respecting western democracies and their allies.
The recall of Canadian diplomats from harm’s way in Tehran is only the first essential step of many needed to bring at least the Western powers, including Japan, to effectively squeeze the regime economically to such an extent that Iranians may succeed in bringing a regime change of their own that they were unable to do in 2009.
The support among Canadians for Harper’s decision is wide and deep.
The opinion survey by Angus Reid shows a whopping 72% in agreement with the government, and over 80% of Canadians have an unfavourable view of Iran.
It might well be said Canadians have a keen understanding of the problems and threats emanating from the Arab-Muslim world, and with such support our PM can provide leadership at a time when it is sorely missing in Washington.