MPs vote unanimously in support of designating Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps a terrorist group

Objects are intercepted in the sky after Iran launched drones and missiles toward Israel, as seen from Ashkelon, Israel April 14, 2024. (Amir Cohen/Reuters - image credit)
Objects are intercepted in the sky after Iran launched drones and missiles toward Israel, as seen from Ashkelon, Israel April 14, 2024. (Amir Cohen/Reuters - image credit)

The House of Commons has voted unanimously in support of a motion to add Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps to an official list of terrorist organizations.

The motion came from a House justice committee report that, among other things, called on the government to designate the IRGC as a terrorist entity in Canada. MPs voted 327 to 0 to accept the report on Wednesday.

The government has been facing mounting pressure to declare the IRGC a terrorist group under the Criminal Code.

Last month, opposition parties amplified their demands to add the IRGC to the terrorist entity list after Iran launched an airstrike on Israel.

Families of the victims of Flight PS752 have been calling on the government to list the IRGC as a terrorist organization for years. PS752 was shot down by the IRGC shortly after taking off from Tehran on Jan. 8, 2020, killing all 176 people onboard, including 55 Canadian citizens and 30 permanent residents.

The report does not impose any binding obligation on the government.

During a PS752 commemoration ceremony, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said his government is looking "for ways to responsibly list the IRGC as a terrorist organization."

The Liberals also voted in favour of a similar motion in 2018.

The Conservatives accused the governing Liberals of delaying a decision to add the IRGC to the terrorist entity list.

"Trudeau must finally take action and stand with Iranians in Canada and around the world," a statement from the party said.

In the past, the government has argued that such a listing would be a blunt-force approach that could affect low-level people who were forced to serve in the paramilitary force.

The CIA says conscripts make up more than 50 per cent of the IRGC.

How is a group designated a terrorist entity?

A group may be named as a terrorist entity if there are "reasonable grounds" to believe it has "knowingly carried out, attempted to carry out, participated in or facilitated a terrorist activity," according to Section 83.05 of the Criminal Code.

A group may also be listed if there are grounds to believe it has "knowingly acted on behalf of, at the direction of or in association with, an entity involved in a terrorist activity," says the Code.

The process of designating a terrorist group begins with an internal government consultation that identifies potential groups for addition to the list, according to the Public Safety Department.

A criminal or security intelligence report is then completed, followed by an assessment by the Department of Justice to determine whether the threshold has been met to add the group to the list.

The minister of public safety then reviews the criminal or security intelligence report. If they have reasonable grounds to believe that the group in question meets the threshold, they make a recommendation to cabinet to place the group on the list.

Once a group is placed on Canada's terrorist list — which was created in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks — police can charge anyone who financially or materially supports the group and banks can freeze its assets.