Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird has not temporarily closing other Canadian embassies in the Middle East
Credits: LAURENT DIONNE/QMI AGENCY
Baird said he is "aggressively" pursuing what he called Canada's "principled, values-based" foreign policy.
In particular, Baird said the Canadian government will work with international partners to end the practice of child brides and to and encourage women around the world to play larger roles in their societies.
"Women's rights have become such an important part of Canada's foreign policy, and ... it has become a personal priority of mine," he said.
Additionally, Baird said Canada will stand up to "the violent mobs" around the world that "seek to criminalize homosexuality."
Canada will not impose its value system on others, he said. Rather, the government will support groups and governments who are choosing to "build a free and prosperous society."
Baird's speech did not touch on his announcement in early September to close Canada's embassy in Iran and to expel Iranian diplomats from Canada. Baird said he made the decision three weeks ago.
Baird told reporters after his speech that he stood by his decision to close the embassy as well as to list Syria and Iran as "state supporters of terrorism."
The reason why Canada suddenly closed its embassy in the Iranian capital is still unclear. Canada's public justifications for doing so range from opposition to Iran's nuclear program to what Baird said was Iran's "racist and anti-Semitic rhetoric."
Baird also mentioned that Iran "can't be trusted" to protect foreign diplomatic staff and gave two examples - the 1979 storming of the US embassy in Iran, and last November's ransacking of the UK's Iranian embassy - as justification.
"I don't know how you can call a country a state sponsor of terrorism and at the same time leave staff there," Baird said.
However, none of the reasons Baird gave for closing the embassy are particularly new. For years, Canada and much of the West have criticized Iran for its human rights' record, nuclear program and stance towards Israel.
Moreover, Baird said the safety of Canadian embassy personnel was a top priority for the government.
However, he did not say if there were any recent, direct threats made towards Canadian embassy staff in Iran in the weeks or months prior to the government's decision to sever diplomatic ties.
Baird reiterated that the Canadian government did not receive advance knowledge about any possible military strike against Iran.
Baird also said that his office will review the security situation in Cairo to determine when to re-open its Egyptian embassy.
Canada closed its Cairo embassy on Thursday after an amateur, poorly-made film insulting Islam sparked protests outside the nearby US embassy.