Ending diplomatic ties with Iran

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Canada's door to diplomacy with Iran has been slammed shut. What is less clear are the implications and what may have triggered this action by the Canadian government at this time. Today we speak with the last Canadian Ambassador to Iran and the wife of an Iranian-Canadian on death row in Tehran.

We've been watching the issue of diplomatic ties between Canada and Iran for some time on The Current. Read More for previous segments we've done on this topic.



Part One of The Current

Ending diplomatic ties with Iran - Panel

If the 17 Iranian diplomats working in Ottawa have any unfinished business in this country -- a diplomatic initiative, a petulant email, even a walk in the Gatineaus -- they had better get it done by tomorrow. After that -- they're outta here.

Diplomatic breakdowns don't get much more intense than bolting the doors at embassies. And Iran lashed out over the weekend after Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird announced Friday that Canada had closed its Tehran Embassy and given Iran's diplomats here five days to pack up. Iran's parliamentary speaker cancelled an upcoming visit to Canada and its foreign ministry called the severing of diplomatic ties "hostile behaviour."

Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Sunday nothing Iran does in response to the decision would surprise him. The development has raised concerns over the fate of three Canadian citizens still imprisoned in Iran. Prime Minister Harper says Canada will work through its allies to continue helping them.

But Antonella Mega is alarmed. Her Canadian husband, Hamid Ghassemi-Shall, sits in an Iranian prison cell facing a death sentence for espionage. She communicates with him sporadically in short phone calls. Antonella Mega joined us in Toronto.

And Marina Nemat is an Iranian Canadian author who was once imprisoned in Iran, and now lives in Canada and helps families facing similar problems to Antonella's.

Ending diplomatic ties with Iran - John Mundy, Fmr Cdn Ambassador to Iran

John Mundy has a unique perspective on the diplomatic breakdown. Five years ago, the Iranian government threw him out of Tehran. No one has served as Canadian ambassador to Iran since. We reached John Mundy outside of Ottawa this morning.

We asked the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade to provide someone to speak about the decision to shut down the embassy, but it declined.

Past Episodes on this topic:

We've been watching the issue of diplomatic ties between Canada and Iran for some time on The Current. Saeed Malekpour has permanent residency status in Canada and he has spent nearly four years on death row in Iran for allegedly facilitating pornographic websites. A year-and-a-half ago, we spoke to Saeed Malekpour's wife, Fatemeh Eftekhari. Saeed Malekpour is still in prison today. Here's that interview.

We also spoke with one of Canada's foremost Iranian-born activists, back in July of this year who believes Tehran's embassy in Ottawa should be shut down. Find out why. Here's that interview.

This segment was produced by The Current's Howard Goldenthal and Ellen Saenger.


Other segments from today's show:

Steroid use among Ontario police officers

Money Can't Buy: Michael Sandel

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