Iranians in Halifax urge caution after ties severed
Canada has closed embassy in Iran, expelled Iranian diplomats
Many Iranian-Canadians in Halifax are reacting with caution to news that Canada has severed diplomatic ties to Iran, saying it could spell bad news for the people in their home country.
"All these sanctions we put on these countries, it seems that it's always the people who suffer more than the government," said Nikki Jafari, whose family left Iran in the days following the Islamic Revolution in 1979.
"It's the innocent bystanders that get hurt through all of this."
Last week, the federal government announced it was suspending diplomatic relations with Iran, expelling Iranian diplomats from Canada and recalling the handful of Canadian diplomats in Tehran.
Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said the government was formally listing Iran as a state sponsor of terrorism under the Justice for Victims of Terrorism Act.
"Iran is among the world's worst violators of human rights. It shelters and materially supports terrorist groups," Baird said in a news release announcing the formal terror listing.
"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."
Baird listed a series of old grievances but did not say what specifically prompted the surprise move.
Jafari, who was two years old when her family left Iran, said she and her sister were planning to visit the country in the new year but those plans are now off.
She said the Canadian gesture will raise awareness about the issues in her home country, but she worries about the Iranian people as the country becomes more isolated.
"People that have families that want to go visit them, people that have families in Iran that want to come out here and visit their kids and their grandkids, those are the people who are going to suffer the most through all of this," Jafari told CBC News.
"More than the government, more than the wealthy and more than the ones that are connected and will get whatever they need to get done anyway."
Sara Tabesh, who left Iran a decade ago with her husband and daughter, said she celebrated when she heard what the Canadian government was doing.
"It's the best news, I think, in my life. In my Canadian life. For 10 years, it's the best news for me," she said.
"The Iranian government supports terrorists. Everybody knows."