(Adds quotes from foreign minister and Conservative Party official, background on sanctions)
By David Ljunggren
OTTAWA, Feb 5 (Reuters) - Canada said it was lifting some sanctions against Iran, including a ban on financial services, imports and exports, thereby allowing companies such as plane maker Bombardier Inc to compete against rivals.
In a statement on Friday, the new Liberal government said all applications for export permits would be considered on a case-by-case basis.
The European Union, the United States and other major nations have already lifted some of their own punitive measures, leading to complaints that Canadian companies were being left behind.
Foreign Minister Stephane Dion said Bombardier, as well as oil, gas, chemical and agricultural companies, should benefit.
“For them, of course, it’s great news,” he told reporters, citing the importance of gaining access to a market of 80 million people.
Dion said last week that if Airbus can to sell to Iran, then Bombardier should be allowed to export there as well.
Iran announced plans in January to buy more than 160 European planes, mainly from Airbus.
The sanctions are being lifted as part of an international deal with Tehran to curb its nuclear program.
“Canada continues to have serious concerns regarding Iran’s nuclear ambitions and will continue to maintain tight restrictions on exports to Iran of goods, services and technologies considered sensitive from a security perspective,” the government said in a statement.
Those would include nuclear goods and technologies, as well as products or services that could assist in the development of Iran’s ballistic missile program, the statement said.
Dion said Ottawa would work to restore diplomatic relations with Iran gradually despite concerns over its “very questionable” human rights record and the threat it poses to regional allies such as Israel.
The former Conservative government cut all diplomatic ties with Iran in 2012. The Conservatives lost power to the Liberals in an October election.
Tony Clement, the Conservatives’ foreign affairs spokesman, said Ottawa should be extremely skeptical of Iran’s intentions.
“They still fire bomb embassies; they still engage in targeted assassinations,” he said in a phone interview. “They must be an actor for peace and non-violence, and they are not that way now.” (Reporting by David Ljunggren in Ottawa; writing by Andrea Hopkins in Toronto; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli and Lisa Von Ahn)