Although he first remarked that the Americans are always good speakers, and always good allies to the cause, as a Canadian himself, he was particularly interested in the fact that Canada’s first and only female Prime Minister, Kim Campbell would head a Canadian delegation for the first time this year.
Ms. Campbell did not take the stage until about 9:30 in the evening, eight hours after the start of the event. She was received by a crowd that remained large, and for the most part remained up on its feet and highly energetic.
Nonetheless, Campbell mused aloud that by that point in the program the participants might be tired of hearing the same things, such as how terrible the situation is in Iran and how desperate the need for change is today. “One of the themes that we’ve been hearing all day is that the mullahs’ regime has to go, and that we all believe,” she said.
In search of a unique perspective that she could bring to bear on the subject, Campbell fell back on her early career expertise on the Soviet Union. Speaking casually and candidly to the crowd, Campbell admitted that even amongst policy experts in the 1980s, “None of us ever knew that the Soviet Union would fall.”
She proceeded to outline the history of the end of the Soviet Union, a nation that had once been referred to by US President Ronald Reagan as “the evil empire.” Campbell suggested that some in the West had mistaken Rouhani for a person similar to the moderate Soviet Union President Michael Gobachev. But after listing the continued and worsening abuses of the Iranian regime under Rouhani she said, “So much for the Iranian Gorbachev.”
Still, Campbell felt that there were lessons that could be taken from the Soviet Union as the NCRI planned for the future of their country. “When we look at Iran,” she said, “the question is, how will it come apart?” In the Soviet Union, the collapse came in the form of forced internal moderation that seems, to many in the NCRI, impossible in Iran.
Still, Campbell assured the crowd, “The break may come when we’re least expecting it, and we have to accept that we don’t know how it’s going to happen.”
Elaborating on this theme, Campbell’s fellow speaker from the Canadian delegation, Trans Young, offered his own assurances that whether the collapse of the Iranian regime is expected or not, whether it is planned or produced by unforeseen circumstances, the outcome is certain: The dictatorship will fall.
“Why will the people succeed?” Young asked. “Because faith can overcome tyranny; because poetry is more powerful than terror.”