Canadian delegation walks out as Iran’s Ahmadinejad speaks at UN

NEW YORK, N.Y. — Canadian diplomats walked out Wednesday as Mahmoud Ahmadinejad subjected the United Nations to more of his trademark political vitriol, but the Iranian president brushed off Canada’s anti-Iran bent even as Tehran warned its citizens to avoid the country for fear of rampant “Iranophobia.”

NEW YORK, N.Y. — Canadian diplomats walked out Wednesday as Mahmoud Ahmadinejad subjected the United Nations to more of his trademark political vitriol, but the Iranian president brushed off Canada’s anti-Iran bent even as Tehran warned its citizens to avoid the country for fear of rampant “Iranophobia.”

It wasn’t the first time the Canadian delegation has walked out on Ahmadinejad — they did it last year and in 2009 at the United Nations annual gathering of world leaders.

But tensions are running higher than ever between the two countries after Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird shuttered Canada’s embassy in Iran three weeks ago.

“We will not sit silently in our chairs and listen to Iran’s hateful, anti-Western, anti-Semitic views,” Baird’s press secretary, Rick Roth, said in a statement.

“If anything, today’s address only reinforces our decision earlier this month to suspend diplomatic relations with Iran.”

Ahmadinejad was dismissive of Canada in a news conference following his speech to the UN.

“Any country is free to have or to not have relations with other countries,” he said.

“I fundamentally don’t see this as a very important issue. Of course we did not have a substantial economic relationship with Canada.”

Ahmadinejad didn’t mention Canada by name during his speech to the United Nations General Assembly, but a statement posted Wednesday by the Islamic Republic News Agency, Iran’s official news agency, was making headlines all the same.

The statement, attributed to Iran’s Foreign Ministry, warned Iranian citizens against travelling to Canada, citing “Islamophobia,” “Iranophobia” and a “double standard” in Canada towards human rights.

On Sept. 7, Baird abruptly announced that Canada had shut down its embassy in Tehran and ordered personnel at the Iranian embassy in Ottawa to get out of the country within five days.

“There have been cases of arrest and expulsion of Iranian expatriates under various pretexts and Iranians are deprived of their basic rights to continue with their ordinary activities, including the right to access their banking accounts and do ordinary transactions,” the Foreign Ministry statement said.

Baird was unequivocal in his scorn for the statement. “I think it’s absolutely ridiculous, and I think 99 per cent of Canadians would share that view.”

In the past, Ahmadinejad has used the UN spotlight to attack Israel, cast doubt on the Holocaust and question American accounts of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

There were suggestions of the same in Wednesday’s speech, but in his final address to the UN, Ahmadinejad also took on a loftier tone as he described a new world order.

In what sounded like a sermon at times, Ahmadinejad envisioned a world that lacks the “hegemony of arrogance,” citing what he called the “continued threat by the uncivilized Zionists to resort to military action against our great nation.”

A saviour will soon emerge who will change the world, he added.

“I do not believe that Muslims, Christians, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, and others have any problems or are hostile against each other,” he said.

He made no reference to Iran’s nuclear program. The United States, Israel, Canada and others fear that program is little more than a pretence for building a nuclear weapon for use against the Israelis.

Iran, however, insists its a peaceful program. The country has been subjected to tough sanctions for its refusal to co-operate with the UN’s nuclear watchdog agency; the UN has asked for proof that its intentions are peaceful as Iranians enrich uranium to levels that would allow them to build a nuclear bomb.

Israel has been pounding the drum beat of war against Iran for months. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been criticized for attempting to pressure the U.S. into joining Israel in launching a military strike.

U.S. President Barack Obama, who addressed the UN himself earlier this week in a forceful rebuke of the recent anti-American violence in the Middle East, says the dispute can still be resolved through diplomacy. But he’s also pledged to prevent Iran from building a bomb.

Ahmadinejad assailed both the United States and Israel in his speech, accusing Americans of protecting a nuclear-armed “fake regime.” That shot at Israel prompted the country’s UN ambassador to walk out.

The Iranian leader spoke despite the concerted efforts of some, including Liberal MP Irwin Cotler, to convince UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to pull the plug on his participation.

“Allowing President Ahmadinejad to address the UN General Assembly is a cruel parody of law and justice that will put us on the wrong side of history,” Cotler wrote in a recent letter to the secretary general and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

The letter cited Ahmadinejad for human rights violations, pursuit of nuclear weapons in defiance of the UN and incitement to genocide.

Cotler said the UN should be indicting Ahmadinejad, not inviting him to the podium.

Canada isn’t alone in its outrage about Ahmadinejad. Thousands of protesters streamed into a plaza near the United Nations complex in mid-town Manhattan on Wednesday as the Iranian leader addressed the annual gathering.

Former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and Newt Gingrich, the one-time Republican presidential hopeful, made appearances at the protest. Syrians were also on hand to denounce Iran’s support of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s bloody crackdown against his opponents.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has decided once again not to speak to the opening of the assembly’s fall session. The UN has met seven times since Harper was elected prime minister; he’s addressed the General Assembly only twice.

In his place, Baird will speak at the UN on Monday.

Just Posted

Shanna Lydiard is upset to have had mail delivery cut off last month to her West Park street because of water main reconstruction. Delivery is to resume by May 19 at the latest, according to the City of Red Deer. (Photo by LANA MICHELIN/Advocate staff).
Red Deer woman frustrated by mail delivery suspension due to construction

Shanna Lydiard said residents shouldn’t have to drive across the city for their mail

Innisfail-Sylvan Lake MLA Devin Dreeshen received his COVID-19 vaccine Tuesday at Jackson’s Pharmacy in Innisfail. (Devin Creeshen Twitter photo)
COVID-19: Most local MLAs have received their first vaccine shot

Alberta’s NDP is encouraging all MLAs to get vaccinated and publicly promote… Continue reading

Alberta continues to wrestle with high COVID-19 case numbers. (NIAID-RML via AP)
Red Deer up to 858 active cases of COVID-19

Province reports additional 1,799 cases of the virus

Bo's Bar and Grill owner Brennen Wowk said the hospitality industry is looking for more clarity from the province around what conditions must be met to allow for restaurants reopening.
(Advocate file photo)
Frustated restaurant owners want to know government’s reopening plan

Restaurant owners feel they are in lockdown limbo

The Bowden Institution medium security facility near Bowden has 15 active COVID-19 cases. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh)
15 active COVID-19 cases at Bowden prison

Bowden Institution has had 36 positive cases this year with 21 recovered and no deaths

Red Deer Mayor Tara Veer and several members of city council helped kick off the spring Green Deer cleanup campaign on Wednesday. Veer said city workers do their best to keep the city looking good, but need volunteer help to get rid of litter that has blown into bushes onto road sides over the winter. (Photo by LANA MICHELIN/Advocate staff)
Red Deer city councillors launch spring Green Deer campaign

Volunteers are needed to keep the city looking good

Ottawa Senators centre Josh Norris, right, celebrates his game-winning overtime goal against the Toronto Maple Leafs with left wing Brady Tkachuk Wednesday May 12, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Norris scored winner, Senators beat Maple Leafs 4-3 in Andersen’s return from injury

Norris scored winner, Senators beat Maple Leafs 4-3 in Andersen’s return from injury

Rafael Nadal, of Spain, holds up the trophy after beating Daniil Medvedev, of Russia, in the final at the Rogers Cup tennis tournament, in Montreal on Sunday, Aug. 11, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Tennis Canada could move top tournaments to US if Toronto, Montreal plan not approved

Tennis Canada could move top tournaments to US if Toronto, Montreal plan not approved

Philadelphia Flyers' Travis Sanheim (6) and Brian Elliott (37) celebrate with teammates after the Flyers won an NHL hockey game against the New Jersey Devils, Monday, May 10, 2021, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
Puck luck? Hockey’s secrecy makes betting on NHL a gamble

Puck luck? Hockey’s secrecy makes betting on NHL a gamble

FILE - John Davidson, left, president of the New York Rangers, and Rangers general manager Jeff Gorton pose at a news conference in New York, in this Wednesday, May 22, 2019, file photo. The New York Rangers abruptly fired president John Davidson and general manager Jeff Gorton on Wednesday, May 5, 2021 with three games left in the season. Chris Drury was named president and GM. He previously served as associate GM under Davidson and Gorton. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)
New York Rangers fire coach Dave Quinn, 3 assistants

New York Rangers fire coach Dave Quinn, 3 assistants

Denis Shapovalov, of Canada, returns a shot from Ilya Ivashka, of Belarus, during the Miami Open tennis tournament, Saturday, March 27, 2021, in Miami Gardens, Fla. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Wilfredo Lee
Canadian Denis Shapovalov books meeting with Nadal in third round of Italian Open

Canadian Denis Shapovalov books meeting with Nadal in third round of Italian Open

United States goalie Alex Cavallini (33) deflects Canada's Marie Philip Poulin (29) shot during the first period in the women's 3-on-3 game, part of the NHL hockey All-Star weekend, Friday, Jan. 24, 2020, in St. Louis. Hockey Canada's roster of players invited to try out for the 2022 Olympic women's hockey team indicates the squad will be experienced up front and less so on the back end. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Jeff Roberson
Hockey Canada announces players invited to try out for women’s Olympic team

Hockey Canada announces players invited to try out for women’s Olympic team

Atlanta Braves pitcher Max Fried works against the Toronto Blue Jays during the first inning of a baseball game Wednesday, May 12, 2021, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
Hernández 2 HRs as Ryu, Blue Jays improve to 5-0 vs Braves

Hernández 2 HRs as Ryu, Blue Jays improve to 5-0 vs Braves

Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Jack Campbell (36) makes a save as Maple Leafs defenceman TJ Brodie (78) and Montreal Canadiens forward Tyler Toffoli (73) look for the rebound during first period NHL hockey action in Toronto on Saturday, May 8, 2021. The Leafs and the Canadiens will meet in the playoffs for the first time in 42 years when the 2020-21 NHL post-season gets underway.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Leafs, Habs will face off in long-awaited playoff rematch, Oilers will face Jets

Leafs, Habs will face off in long-awaited playoff rematch, Oilers will face Jets

Most Read