Minister Baird Wishes Iranians a Happy Nowruz

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Today, I would like to wish the Iranian people a happy Nowruz.

On such an important occasion, we must reflect on the deep connection between Canada and the people of Iran. They are strong ties, and a source of hope and pride.

Canada is home to many Iranians. For decades, Iranian families, and now their children, have been making lasting contributions to Canadian society.

Leaving one's homeland in search of a better life is an incredibly difficult decision for a family to make. In the case of Iran however, thousands of Iranians each year make the choice to seek out a life that is better for their children, by escaping a system that is corrupt to its core, has chosen time and again to isolate itself from the rest of the world, and is tangled in a web of hypocrisy and hate. A regime which has turned on its own people, holding them hostage from a life of peace and prosperity.

This is why Canada chose to suspend its ties to the Iranian regime. It was the direct result of the reckless actions of this regime, against its neighbours and its own people. Canada is clear-eyed about the path to peace in the region: It runs straight through Tehran.

Nowruz is an incredibly important celebration. It marks the very moment of a new beginning. It creates an opportunity for change.

In 2009, this drive for change was viciously taken away from millions of Iranians. Four years later, in June, Iranians will have another chance to express their hopes for real change against a regime that does not have the courage to face the aspirations of its own people.

Iranians want free elections. You, Iran’s activists and human rights defenders, and all the people of Iran who are seeking out a peaceful and prosperous future for your families must stay brave. You are role models for the free world. We recognize your goals and aspirations. We admire your insistence and your perseverance.

I am convinced that a new day awaits the people of Iran. I believe that the people of Iran will once again enjoy prosperity, freedom, and a place of pride in the international community. Whether that day comes quickly or at the end of even greater hardship is a choice that the regime must make. But today, and everyday, Canada stands in solidarity with the Iranian people and celebrates their rich heritage and the hope of a brighter future.

Norouz Piroz