Since November 2011 Canadian Government passed a bill — the Special Economic Measures (Iran) Regulations — prohibits all of the following:
* Dealing in the property of designated persons;
* Exporting or otherwise providing to Iran arms and related material not already banned, all goods used in the petrochemical, oil and gas industry in Iran, and items that could contribute to Iran’s proliferation activities;
* Providing or acquiring financial services to allow an Iranian financial institution (or a branch, subsidiary or office) to be established in Canada, or vice versa;
* Conducting financial transaction with Iran, subject to certain exceptions;
* Making any new investment in the Iranian oil and gas sector;
* Establishing correspondent banking relationships with Iranian financial institutions, or purchasing any debt from the government of Iran; and
* Providing a vessel owned or controlled by, or operating on behalf of the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL) with services for the vessel’s operation or maintenance.
A separate Special Economic Measures (Iran) Permit Authorization Order, made pursuant to subsection 4(4) of the Special Economic Measures Act authorizes the Minister of Foreign Affairs to issue to any person in Canada or any Canadian outside Canada a permit to carry out a specified activity or transaction, or any class of activity or transaction, that is restricted or prohibited pursuant to the Regulations.”
For the months after that some Canadian financial institutions started randomly screening Iranian shareholders. A famous Canadian Bank – TD Canada Trust – was and is a frontline challenger of its Iranian clients many of whom have closed their accounts in recent months as a result of the new law. If any transaction is made with Iran (generally speaking) and her clients, the Canadian account will be closed, assets frozen and offenders must return all bank cheques and credit cards.
The Iranian community has been fighting back. Many meetings were held with Iranian-born MP Reza Moridi to air objections to the new law which they say violates the financial rights of Iranian immigrants or Iranian-born Canadians. Many meetings with provincial and federal Officials have been held without any significant results.
In the Iranian community here in Toronto a debate has started. Many see this matter as a good development, a turning point against potential financial supporters of Iranian regime who for decades have invested in Canada without any interference. They complain about many real estate investments by Chinese, Russian and Iranian investors that creates big headaches for the residents. On the other hand many insist that the sanctions enforced by Canadian financial institutions under government pressure only affect ordinary hard-working Iranians while intentionally ignoring big cats who are mainly quiet supporters of Iranian regime (remember Khavari?).
So for Iranian students, new immigrants who do not make money yet, and small businesses, it is a losing situation. On one side is a tyrannical, terrorist-sponsoring regime and the other is a democratically-elected but paranoid hard-line government that is suddenly trying to act with an iron fist against many innocent people whose only great sin is to be born in Iran. They must cut their financial relations with their home country for the actions of Iranian government.
It is unjust, unfair and humiliating.
So, what shall they do? What about newcomers and students? Should they continue to work in coffee shops, restaurants, taxis, and abandon their assets in Iran for god knows what period of time?
Should we pray or act?