Over a week after Canada suspended formal diplomatic relations with Iran, reaction in Canada remains mixed.
While supporters of the Harper government and defenders of Israel have declared it bold and principled, a number of foreign policy analysts have raised questions about the timing, and cause of the sudden rupture. On Friday September 7th a senior diplomat from Canada’s Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade arrived unannounced at the Iranian embassy in Ottawa carrying two letters. The first informed Iran’s diplomats that they were now considered personae non gratae, and had five days to pack up the embassy and leave the country. The second stated that Canada had already removed its diplomats from Tehran and was closing its embassy, effective immediately.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was quick to praise the Conservative government, and Prime Minister Stephen Harper as a world leader of “the highest level.” On the CBC’s The National, Netanyahu declared, “We have to build a wall, not of silence, but of condemnation and resolve. And Canada just put a very big brick in that wall.” Yet, reaction in Canada was measured, with a number of prominent voices raising concern. James George, who served as Canada’s ambassador to Iran between 1972 and 1977 declared it “stupid to close an embassy in these circumstances.” “We need to keep an ear open there—our own ear,” George said.