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As Iranians in Canada mourn the loss of life, liberty, and democracy in their native land; Canadians of non- Iranian origins must visibly, join in their silent vigil.

Sadly, Canada’s embassy is closed to the victims: the very Teheran embassy which
once was a brave and principled haven in the 1990s.

While Canada seems to have lost its voice and principled leadership internationally, the Canadian people must not shirk from filling that vacuum. We must speak out and stand up, for human rights and against injustice; without fear, without prejudice, regardless of what regime is the perpetrator. This is indeed the essence of principled leadership.

For over 40 years, Canada was trusted and looked to for exactly this type of principled leadership. People without voice, peoples who were victims of violence, injustice and loss of civil liberties by their own and foreign governments could “make book” that Canada would stand for them. I know this first hand: during my time as a Minister I led delegations to the UN, Commonwealth, Francophonie and Organistion of American States on issues of human rights, xenophobia and gender equality.
Canada would be clear to differentiate between the people of a nation and their governing bodies; standing for the one while speaking out against the other.

Our own media often reviled this tendency to be the “boy scouts of the world”, chastising us for being so bold as to reach beyond our grasp.  Yet, it was little Canada that took a leadership role on the land mines treaty, that stood up each time for nuclear disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation, and that spearheaded the drive for an international criminal court.

There are worse things than being a boy scout. We seem to have forgotten that taking a principled stance is often not a popular undertaking, but it is the hall mark of leadership.