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B’nai Brith launches lawsuit against the federal government

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B’nai Brith Canada is taking the federal government to court for failing to respond to a letter from the Jewish group that called on Ottawa to list Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a terrorist group.

B’nai Brith’s application in Federal Court seeks an order compelling the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness to answer a letter sent by B’nai Brith on Jan. 12 requesting that the government list the IRGC as a terrorist entity.

The application notes that a motion on the issue was approved unanimously in the House of Commons in June 2018. Introduced by Alberta Conservative MP Garnett Genuis, the motion called on the government to “immediately” add the IRGC to its list of terrorist entities.

It also strongly condemned Iran for its “ongoing sponsorship of terrorism around the world,” and for statements “calling for genocide against the Jewish people.”

A year later, Canada added two neo-Nazi and three small Iranian-backed groups to its roster of banned terrorist organizations, but failed to list the IRGC, an elite unit of Iran’s armed forces.

At a news conference in Ottawa on Jan. 13, leaders of B’nai Brith, the Council of Iranian Canadians, and the Justice 88 Campaign, urged the government to implement the motion. B’nai Brith said it was giving the government 30 days to act.

With that deadline passed, B’nai Brith launched a legal action against the attorney general and the minister of public safety and emergency preparedness.

“We made it clear (in January) that no further delays by the government would be accepted by Canadians,” B’nai Brith Canada CEO Michael Mostyn said in a written statement. “Unfortunately, there is no alternative at this point to legal recourse. It is intolerable that 20 months have elapsed since this important motion passed, and no action has been taken by our government to implement it.”

The IRGC “poses a very serious security threat to Canadians,” Mostyn added. “Listing it as a terrorist entity in this country is necessary to deter this threat and reduce its ability to do harm … our safety concerns are pragmatic, moral and urgent.

“The government must act immediately – and our lawsuit aims to ensure this immediate action.”

The IRGC was responsible for last month’s downing of a civilian airplane in Tehran, killing 57 Canadians and another 81 passengers en route to Canada, B’nai Brith pointed out.

The Corps is tasked with “protecting Iran’s brutal Islamist dictatorship and supporting its international terrorist proxies,” B’nai Brith went on. “Its principle objective is to fuel and fund terrorism. It suppresses Iran’s own people and is a serious public security threat throughout the Middle East and around the world.”

Qasem Soleimani, who was assassinated in a U.S. drone strike on Jan. 3, was a major general in the IRGC and commander of its Quds Force. In 2012, the previous Conservative government added the Quds Force, a subgroup of the IRGC, to the list of terrorist organizations.

Mostyn noted that in Toronto and other major cities, the IRGC supports the annual al-Quds Day “hate fest that demonize Israel and incite hatred toward Jews.”

Genuis’s motion also called on the Liberals to abandon promises to restore ties with Tehran, which the previous Conservative government had cut, and their endorsement of the motion was seen as a striking change in Ottawa’s Iran policy.

The United States formally listed the IRGC as a terrorist group in April 2019.

The legal instrument B’nai Brith has deployed in this case – an application for mandamus, Latin for “we command” – refers to a writ issued by a court ordering a lower court or governmental entity to properly carry out a duty.

“Mandamus is a drastic remedy and is invoked only in extraordinary cases where there is a clear and indisputable right to the relief sought,” according to a definition from Thomson Reuters.


  • The above article clarifies an earlier version of this story, which stated that B’nai Brith Canada is taking the federal government to court to force it to designate Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a terrorist entity.