Cutting Political Ties
Canada and Iran have never really been on the best of terms – especially with a list of grievances against Iran that include human rights violations, threats against Israel, a nuclear program with the potential to develop nuclear weapons, as well as the torture and death of Zahra Kazemi, a Canadian-Iranian photographer, in 2003.
On September 7, Foreign Affairs Minister, John Baird, declared that Canada was cutting political ties with Iran, including shutting down the Canadian Embassy in Tehran and the Iranian Embassy in Ottawa. When Baird made the announcement, all Canadian diplomats had left Iran, and Iranian ambassadors were given five days to leave Canada.
As to why Canada suddenly decided to remove all remaining diplomats from Iran is unclear, but what is clear is that Iranian citizens in both countries will both be drastically affected.
University of Regina's Iranian Student Society president, Hamed Shafiee Hasanabadi, said the actions of the Iranian government are the actions of a few people. “The government is not the…population of the country,” Hasanabadi said.
He added that the policies of these few decision makers will have numerous consequences on Iranian citizens.
"It will be lots of problems for us and I think the government in Iran doesn’t care a lot about this issue, you know? If you are leaving to Canada, it is your problem, if you don’t want (problems), come back.” – Hamed Shafiee Hasanabadi
Canada's decision to close down the Iranian Embassy in Ottawa in an effort to further cut ties with the country is one example of a decision that will have a major effect on Iranians living in Canada.
“When Canada [closes] the embassy in Tehran, the pressure will increase on…Canada,” Hasanabadi said. “The (Foreign Affairs) Minister thought that they should close the embassy in Ottawa; they should not give the service to the Iranian(s) in Canada.”
The Iranian Embassy provided a number of services for Iranians living in Canada, including providing renewal of passports, issuing birth certificates, national identification cards and visas which would allow visits to Iran.
“Right now, for example, if we’re going to renew our passports or if we are going to ratify … some documents to send to our country – to apply for a mortgage, for example – we need the embassy in Ottawa. But when there is not anything here, what we can do?” he said. “It will be lots of problems for us and I think the government in Iran doesn’t care a lot about this issue, you know? If you are leaving to Canada, it is your problem, if you don’t want (problems), come back.”
While the lack of an embassy proves to be a problem for Iranians in Canada, Hasanabadi said a lack of communication between the two countries will not help the problem.
“The main point I think is that if you have problem with someone- it’s not good to disconnect the relation – you should negotiate, you should talk.”