Iran parliamentarians think it is the British queen who has closed Canada’s embassy in Tehran!

Sep 12th, 2012 | By | Category: In Brief

When some Iranian lawmakers see photos like this, they apparently think that the British Queen is giving orders to the Canadian Prime Minister.

There have been various explanations of the Harper government’s decision last Friday to suspend Canada’s diplomatic relations with Iran.

See, eg: “By cutting ties with Iran, we just shot ourself in the foot” ; “Burman: What has prompted Canada’s move against Iran?” ; and “Canada’s last Iran ambassador: Cutting off Tehran looks like a mistake.”

Whatever else, it is also probably worth noting that “Canada was one of the few remaining Western nations to maintain diplomatic relations with Iran.”

In particular : “Britain downgraded ties with Iran following a major attack on its embassy in Tehran in November 2011, which it insists was sanctioned by the Islamic republic’s ruling elite. After the attack, Britain pulled all of its diplomats out of Iran and expelled Iranian diplomats from UK soil.”

Iranian lawmaker Javad Jahangirzadeh says the decision to close the Canadian embassy in Tehran was taken by London.

One intriguing (if also, as at least we Canadians certainly know, quite wrong) explanation, offered by two different members of the Iranian parliament to the FARS News Agency in Tehran over the weekend, rubs up in amusing and also perhaps revealing ways against another allegedly innovative Harper government policy inside our home and native land:

(1) “The decision to close the Canadian embassy in Tehran was taken by London — as the supervisor of the Canadian government — which is angry at Iran for the closure of its mission in Tehran in 2011, a senior member of the Iranian parliament said Saturday … ‘It should be noted that the Canadian government is supervised by the British governor general and should be recognized by the British queen …  therefore, given the closure of the British embassy in Tehran, such a measure is actually a kind of reaction to the closure of the British embassy in Tehran last year,’ member of the parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Commission Javad Jahangirzadeh told FNA.”

Iranian lawmaker Alaeddin Boroujerdi says that Canada is a country supervised by the United Kingdom.

(2) “ … Chairman of the parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Commission Alaeddin Boroujerdi also condemned Ottawa’s decision to recall its diplomats from Tehran, and said the move had been devised by London and later dictated to the Canadian officials … ‘Given the fact that Canada is a country supervised by the UK and its governor is appointed by the British queen and all the important decisions by the country’s governor are taken by the (British) queen and in coordination with her, it is natural that Ottawa is not pleased with the closure of the British embassy in Tehran (by the Iranian officials in 2011),’ he told FNA … ‘Certainly, the British government seeks to push its allies to the same way that it had paved to counter Iran; therefore, this decision (of Ottawa) was actually a blind obedience (to Britain) by the Canadian government,’ Boroujerdi added.”

You can of course say that this just shows how ill-informed members of the Iranian parliament are about how Canadian government works in the year 2012. But as some of us heard more than once at the counterweights European colloquium this past spring, there are, eg, more than a few quite educated and intelligent Europeans who are similarly ill-informed.

It is apparently not easy for many in other parts of the world to understand why, if Canada no longer has any form of colonial relationship to the United Kingdom, the British monarch is still the official or formal Canadian head of state. And, no doubt, the Harper government’s recent assorted efforts to somehow revive our historic relationship with the British monarchy have only added to the broader confusion.

When Iranian lawmakers hear that the gentlemen in red tunics here are called the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, they apparently think that the British monarch somehow controls them too. (And some in Ottawa nowadays perhaps only wish she could!)

To make a long story very short, this is just one of the many good reasons that we continue to quest after the holy grail of a Canadian republic.

In The Canadian Federal Experiment : From Defiant Monarchy to Reluctant Republic , eg, Frederick Vaughan writes that the “Constitution Act, 1982 was the instrument that, with one stroke, severed Canadians from their ancestral monarchical foundations. With the Charter [of Rights and Freedoms, with which the Constitution Act, 1982 begins], Canada began a new life as a nation, a republican nation …. The transformation to republican government has taken hold in the public mind … Yet institutional reforms are urgently required to accommodate the constitutional alterations … the solution to the problems that have emerged with the advent of republican government is not monarchical institutions, as Eugene Forsey would have recommended, but more or better republican institutions.”

The recent Iranian pronouncements of Javad Jahangirzadeh and  Alaeddin Boroujerdi  on the embassy issue just underline how much of a great shame it is that no one in the Harper government has yet managed to read Frederick Vaughan’s book.

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  1. […] just one of many crazy cases in point, in the late summer of 2012 two different Iranian parliamentarians argued it was the British government at Westminster that had … in protest — not Stephen Harper’s Canadian government in […]

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