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Canada shuts Iranian embassy, expels officials

VLADIVOSTOK, RUSSIA — The Canadian government has became the latest country to crack down on the Islamic Republic of Iran, announcing a cut in diplomatic relations.

British Prime Minister David Cameron and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper in a joint press conference in the Downing Street garden in 2009 (photo: The Prime Minister’s Office)

The Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird, in Russia’s Far East port city for the 2012 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders Week, issued the following statement before departing for India:

Canada has closed its embassy in Iran, effective immediately, and declared personae non gratae all remaining Iranian diplomats in Canada. Canada’s position on the regime in Iran is well known. Canada views the Government of Iran as the most significant threat to global peace and security in the world today. The Iranian regime is providing increasing military assistance to the Assad regime; it refuses to comply with UN resolutions pertaining to its nuclear program; it routinely threatens the existence of Israel and engages in racist anti-Semitic rhetoric and incitement to genocide; it is among the world’s worst violators of human rights; and it shelters and materially supports terrorist groups, requiring the Government of Canada to formally list Iran as a state sponsor of terrorism under the Justice for Victims of Terrorism Act. Moreover, the Iranian regime has shown blatant disregard for the Vienna Convention and its guarantee of protection for diplomatic personnel. Under the circumstances, Canada can no longer maintain a diplomatic presence in Iran. Our diplomats serve Canada as civilians, and their safety is our number one priority.

Baird also noted that all Canadian diplomatic staff in Tehran have left or have been instructed to leave the country within five days. His staff refused to expand on his comments.  However, a senior political officer at the Canadian Embassy in Beijing last week said, informally, that Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper personally considers Israel’s security and interests a priority in Canada’s foreign policy.

The Iranian government accused Ottawa of bowing to British and American influence and warned it may swiftly retaliate.

Relations between the two countries have been strained for nearly a decade following the death in 2003 of an Iranian-Canadian photojournalist while in police custody.  They have reached a record low under the leaderships of Harper and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

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    1. Jack

      Simply ridiculous. Not to forget though that Harper is a devout christan pro-israeli politician.

      Reply to Comment
    2. Piotr Berman

      Now that the fate of Hans Island is resolved, Canadian fleet can be dispatched to attack Iran. May be on the way they can ransack Tuvalu for supporting Iran at some occasions.

      Reply to Comment
    3. Kolumn9

      Canada seems to be the only country in the world that is using common sense when it comes to Iran. Iran is an Islamic fundamentalist police terror state run by a regime intent on spreading its influence regionally and wiping out opposition at home through any means necessary, while insisting on a goal of destroying a fellow member state of the United Nations.

      The Canadian-Iranian photojournalist Zahra Kazemi was murdered in prison after being brutally tortured (broken fingers, missing fingernails, broken nose) and brutally raped. Her crime was being arrested photographing 4000 students protesting for democracy in Iran.

      Combined with a complete disrespect for the basic rules of international diplomacy – namely the gross rejection of the sanctity of foreign embassies as evidenced by the regime-directed invasion of the British embassy in 2011 and the use of its own embassy in Ottawa to persecute Iranian-Canadians – it is not surprising that Canada would take such steps to both cut contact with a brutal dictatorship and also ensure the safety of their embassy staff. Given that the same Iranian tactics apply to its relations with all Western states I am surprised more Western countries have not yet taken such steps to distance themselves from that horrible regime.

      Reply to Comment
      • Jack

        Its not very senseful to all of a sudden cut all ties with a state. Not rational for one bit, I think majority of western states not to mention rest of the world is surprised by this irrationality. If you have a problem you deal with it, you dont run away, that is immature and hide another reason for the motive.

        Obviously you fail to see that this is a realpolitik-stance taken by Canada to mainly, please Israel. After all this comes from a state that have a PM that have said that he will defend Israel ‘whatever the cost’ (google that).

        Its this old mentality that leads to war because what Canada just did was to remove the diplomacy. Most states are rational, they dont want war, they want to talk with each other no matter what problem they may have. Canada on the other hand have no significant ties with Iran which makes this incident more absurd.

        Alsso.

        1. Israel not Iran occupies land beyond their internationally recognized borders, thus who spreading influence regionally is clear.

        2. Obviously Israel have been wiping off palestinian opposition and specific parties for decades. Not to mention the political held prisoners in Israel.

        3. Iran has not threatened to destroy, however Israel have threatened…and destroyed part of states. They keep threatening Iran and have waged tens of wars against the region. The wanton destruction in Lebanon and Gaza are two prime examples.

        4. Rachel corrie was an activist that was runned over by a bulldozer – like other cases the impunity of crimes is evident, 9 activists were killed on the humanitarian ship Mavi Marmera, they fought also for democracy – still the killings which are just 2 of many examples, is getting buried due impunity of these crimes.

        5. The attack on UN buildings, hospital, well any civilian target is not a disrespect for violation of international law? The refusal to engage in talks is not a disrespect for international diplomacy?

        You see I just did what you did still you wont be pushing states to distance themselves from Israel.
        You use a double standard just like Canada. No one takes that seriously.

        My point? States doesnt need to like each other but cutting of all relations is rational in any sense and wont solve a iota only lead to escalation, diplomacy is fundamental, not violence, war and hostility. That is a cave men mentality.

        Reply to Comment
        • Vadim

          WOW.

          Now I’ve heard it all.

          Canada’s irrational behavior “leads to war”.

          “Iran has not threatened to destroy”

          Canada taking strategic decisions to “please Israel”.

          The assumption that “Diplomacy” can solve anything with Iran.

          “humanitarian ship Mavi Marmera”

          Good stuff.

          Here’s a glimpse of reality for you:

          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FckLO8HcNyo

          Reply to Comment
          • Jack

            Vadim,

            Your post breathes ad hominem. This is a debate forum, do you have any significant contribution to the discussion?

            Reply to Comment
          • Vadim

            How’s my post ad hominem?

            Did I call you names? Did I say that what you’ve said is wrong because you are such and such?

            All I did was write down stuff you’ve written or implied. My contribution is asserting that much of what’s you’ve written is false. I even provided a video clip in which Ahmadinajad does not threaten to destroy Israel, but merely calls for its death (just like you said).

            My other contribution is showing other people that not everyone are taken aback by the nonsense that you write.

            I thought to go point by point and explain why you’re wrong. But what can I possibly say to a person who looks at Iran and Canada and seriously claims that it is the Canadian policy that leads to war?

            Reply to Comment
          • Jack

            Vadim,

            I put out a lengthy text and your answer have been to ridicule without any significant factual contribution to my text. Go point by point and prove me wrong instead ok?

            Reply to Comment
          • vadim

            Jack,

            1. Israel has a land dispute, same as dozens other countries in the world. Do you really think our geographicaly tiny dispute is comparable to Iran’s involement in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Hamas (to name a few) in terms of spreading influence?

            2. You neglect to mention that for decades, “Palestinian opposition” was synonymous to Terror. Please name 3 prominent political leaders held in Israel which do not belong to a Terror organization. I don’t think there are 3 such Palestinians anywhere.

            3. I’ve sent you a youtube link. Please find a similar one made by a prominent Israeli figure. I don’t talk about a threat of retaliation or a military action, I’m talking about the call for the death of Iran. Another option would be for you to explan why the call “Death to Israel” is actually a call for peace and dialog.

            4. I don’t think you’d agree, but I don’t see these cases as crimes. The ship was not humanitarian but a simple provocation. They attacked soldiers and got what they wished for. Same for Rachel.

            5. The refusal to engage in talks? Who refuses? What talks? Is there any palestinian leader willing to forgo the “Right of return”, ready to accept Israel as a Jewish state? Arab leaders who wanted peace – got peace. Regarding allegedly attacks against UN buildings – these things happen in a war. We hurt them, they hurt us. Only difference is they TRY to hurt civilians and we TRY no to hurt civilians.

            My point? Thinking that you can talk to the leadership in Iran is naive and stupid. This is the middle east, not a debate contest.

            May I ask where you live? How many times have you been in Israel?

            Reply to Comment
          • Jack

            Vadim,

            1. There is no “dispute” according to every higher instance Golan is syrian, Lebanese areas…belongs to Lebanon, Gaza, WestBank and East Jerusalem is palestinian landmasses. This was my argument. Yes Iran have relations with Iraq, Lebanon, Syria is nothing illegal about it likewise Israel having relations and influence in the US isnt illegal.

            2. Check first phrase @
            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palestinian_prisoners_in_Israel#Public_figures

            3. What does this have with my #3 to do with? I requote myself:
            “Iran has not threatened to destroy, however Israel have threatened…and destroyed part of states.”

            Israel have repeatedly threatened to attack Iran with a first strike. Not to mention the rabbi other week allegedly urging annihilation of Iran.

            4. That doesnt surprise me and thats part of my point. You wont be taken as credible if you deny such crimes while at the same time pointing fingers at others.

            5. The solution is of course based on the pre 1967 war. There is nothing that oblige palestinians to recognize Israel as a specific Jewish state, thats absurd and a tactic by Israel to kill off the talks since no palestinian leadership will ever do that. Its like demanding blacks in the apartheid S. Africa to recognize that South Africa as the White state.
            When Obama tried to start the peace process he like other parties urged Israel to freeze its annexation, this was bluntly rejected by Israel and the annexation is recognize as the sole problem to the conflict today.

            UN buildings, like civilians are not permitted to attack during war, this has Israel ignored, you falsely claim that Israel has not intentionally hurt civilians, the fact shows that Israel have killed, the majority, by deliberate or indiscriminately live bullets.

            Reply to Comment
          • Vadim

            Jack,

            after asking for a factual contribution, you completely ignore what I wrote.

            1. Maybe there’s no dispute between you, Assad and HaArez but that doesn’t mean there’s no dispute. Land can belong to coutries, it cannot belong to an amorphic group of people. Regarding influece – Iran is supplying, funding and training Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Hizbullah and god knows who else, all of which are located in distant countries (from Iran) – that’s called spreading influence. They assist Bashar Assad (while Israel does not help the rebels) – that’s called spreading influence. You are right of course, since this is exactly like Israel having an embassy in the US.

            2. Did you even read the link you’ve sent me? They are all Terrorists or belong to terror organizations. That’s what I’ve told you and that’s what wikipedia says – maybe you should read more than the first paragraph.

            3. Why allegedly? Ovadia Yosef did call for people on Rosh Hashana to pray for god to destroy our enemies and think of Iran. So what? I can find a dozen such speeches done in Arab states in the past month. They mean nothing. I’ve shown you Iran’s *President* calling for Israel’s death. Can you show me something similar said in Israel? I understand what you’re saying – Iran is a peaceful nation that is simply misunderstood when it calls to remove the Zionist tumor, while Israel is warmongering because it threatens to destroy the scalpel with which the tumor will be removed. This is the same logic that makes Canada’s policy “lead to war”.

            4. I don’t deny these events happened. I deny they are crimes. The marmara was a stupid provocation that backfired. That’s what usually happen when you attack soldiers. Rachel corrie probably died in an accident, but she should have had more sense that to stand in front of a D9.

            5. Why is it “of course” based on the pre 1967 borders? Why not 1948? or 1956? Or 1970? Is it because the PLO was formed before 1967 (thus implying that pre 1967 borders are not good enough as well)? Or because Jack thinks so?
            Recognizing Israel is not absurd, nor is it a tactic. Recognition is the first step to normalization, and it scares the hell out of all Palestinian leaders (those few fortunate enough to be outside of Israeli prisons). There cannot be peace with people who don’t recognize your right to exist. The idea that “annexation” or settlement is the sole problem of the conflict is false. Moreover – it is dumb and is not based on facts. Israel gave away Sinai for peace. Israel has withdrawn from Lebanon and Gaza. Did Hizbullah dismantle? Did Hamas stopped firing stuff at civilian population? Did you say – “oh, Israel is no longer occupying Gaza, the time for peace has come”?

            Please look at Syria – this is what killing deliberately and indiscriminately looks like. Please look at suicide bombings – this is what killing deliberately and indiscriminately looks like. Please look at our lovely neighbors firing rockets into civilian population – this is what killing deliberately and indiscriminately looks like. Do you see something similar in Israel? In the amounts of casualties? In the distribution of casualties between combatants and non-combatants?

            You didn’t answer my question. Do you live in Israel? Have you ever been here?

            Reply to Comment
          • Jack

            Vadim,

            1. I just refered that every higher instance is unified on which land belongs to whom. There is no legal “dispute” about it as you claim, the record is clear. We must base our debate on facts and sincerity.

            Spreading influence and making allies/friends is nothing weird nor illegal, its the foundation of diplomacy and neighbours. Who funds, arms, train israeli army? You see I could also make that argument.
            According to you states are forbidden to have good relations with each other, atleast some states. Again sincerity and factual is what we must pursue in this debate.

            2. I dont think you read my link,
            read under ” Public figures” as I refered to.

            3. http://www.counterpunch.org/2012/08/28/rabbi-pray-for-the-annhilation-of-iran

            Thats the double standard, you think its ok when Israel threat Iran with a first strike.

            I havent defended anyone I seek for a more correct, factual basis of this debate, obviously you defend the statements in the link above and the warmongering threats from Israel. So dont project.
            People have during history chanted death to apartheid/communism/other ideologies implying they are against the political system, not the people as you try to portray it as. In fact the green movement in Iran chanted Death to Russia some years back for its support for iranian government. You dont seriously belive that these wanted the annihilation of russian people, at the same time Ive seen demonstrations in Israel chanting not death to palestine but death to arabs.

            4. Yes I know you deny the crimes and thats the problem because then you are using double standards and what makes this aburd. This glorification and white-wash arent credible.

            5. Because thats what possible under international law, since annexation is not an lawful act the peace should be based on the situation before this unlawful act was put in use. Its recognized by the world and by judiciary.

            You should re read my message I didnt say recognition of Israel is absurd, I said recognize Israel as a Jewish state is.
            Israel has not left Lebanon, not to mention they breach the border of Lebanon constantly which of course is a serious violation of international law.

            You are not serious if you want to want to talk about other states, you could check the facts, Israel have used indiscriminately live bullets on civilians. Either you dont know this basic facts or you are deliberately approve such acts.

            Reply to Comment
    4. Eric Mendelsohn

      From Canada’s newspapers “Benjamin Netanyahu is our new foreign minister” “Baird shot himself in the foot”. in other words 69 years of Canada’s goodwill in the ME has just been thrown under the bus.

      Reply to Comment
      • Eric, I think that’s a bit of an overstatement. Much of the Middle East is distancing itself from Tehran because of its continued support of Assad. I’m sure those people will take comfort in Canada’s decision, even though there are those who will naturally default to accuse Israel, the US and Britain of pulling the strings. I hardly think this decision means Canada’s lost its relevance in the region; quite the contrary, it seems to have made a bold statement that others refuse to.
        Also, there was another comment here about severing diplomatic ties and, the results, cutting off all talk. In general, I agree that “talk” is a good thing; it prevents war. But the truth is there are many unofficial diplomatic channels of communication, and those will stay in place. The closing of embassies and the expulsion of diplomats, however, sends a statement … and in this case, that statement is: you can’t continue to do x, y, and z and still expect decent relations with the rest of the world. (By the way, the same could be said for the Israelis, who are more and more frequently punished for their own x’s, y’s and z’s.)

        Reply to Comment
        • Eric M.

          This is just one of Canada’s steps to the more Anerican than the GOP foriegn policy. It’s anti UN “us against them” cowboy approach coupled with John Bairds ignorance (In Israel he used the term “black hats” to describe the Palestinians. This was risible to say the least)

          Reply to Comment
    5. Danny

      Very odd behavior from (usually) neutral Canada. It almost seems as if Harper has more than just an ideological reason for being Israel’s stooge. If I had to guess, I would say that he gets monthly payments into his personal bank account from an unnamed source in Las Vegas. Besides the ‘Robocalls’ scandal that Harper’s party allegedly used to trick tens of thousands of unsuspecting voters (in essence telling them to go to a different voting location than they were supposed to), I would say the RCMP should definitely look into Harper’s campaign financing – specifically any sources that originate out of the ‘Sands’ casino or AIPAC HQ.

      Reply to Comment