Published: Wednesday, October 27, 2010
OTTAWA – The leader of the Green Party of Canada wants a group of current and former party candidates to cancel a conference on peace in Ottawa Thursday that features a roster of Iranian speakers.
“This is not a happy event,” Elizabeth May said in an interview Wednesday. “If they’re not aware that they’ve put together a conference which is unbalanced, then they’re not paying attention. I hope they’ll cancel.”
The conference on “just and sustainable peace” includes three academics from Tehran University, including keynote speaker Saeid Ameli, dean of the faculty of global studies.
Another panellist is Davood Ameri, director general of the Islamic World Peace Forum, an Tehran-based NGO whose website postings closely mirror the views of the Iranian regime.Martin Rudner, former director of Carleton University’s Centre of Intelligence and Security Studies, said the event is “merely a floor show, a one-sided propaganda forum for an Iranian perspective on international affairs.
“It’s very one-sided,” he said. “There’s no other side.”
“We’re right now in the midst of pressing Iran to stop barbaric practices and show trials,” she said. “This is hardly the time to be holding an event which in any way allows the Iranian regime to have any form of cover.”RCMP Const. Wayne Russett, aboriginal and ethnic liaison officer at A-Division in Ottawa, had been scheduled to attend the event.
But Public Safety Minister Vic Toews asked the RCMP to stay away Wednesday because the co-moderator is Zijad Delic, president of the Canadian Islamic Congress.
“Canada’s national police force must have no involvement in any event organized by those who promote extremism and hatred,” Toews said in the House of Commons.
Organizers understand that the event could become an Iranian propaganda exercise, Maillet said. To prevent that, they plan to instruct participants to talk only about what they’re prepared to do as individuals to resolve conflict and promote peace.
Rudner said the Iranians “wouldn’t dare speak their minds. Their lives would be at risk.”Just last week, Rudner said, the Ahmadinejad regime shut down every social science department in Iranian universities because they’re regarded as centres of Western influence.
“They’ve clamped down very strictly on freedom of thought, let alone freedom of expression,” he said. “I worry about four Iranians who cannot speak freely and, by definition, have to push an agenda.”
May said the organizers either allowed themselves to be manipulated or didn’t adequately consider the implications of their actions.
“I can’t imagine what they were thinking.”
Their intentions “may have been good,” she said, noting that some other speakers are well-respected.
“But the fatal failure is in having those particular supporters of the current Iranian regime without balance.
But Maillet said he and his fellow organizers weren’t interested in having a “group hug.
“A professional peacekeeper does not choose to have conferences with his friends. He chooses to have dialogue and discussion with people with whom he has differences. That is the place you can make gains.”
However, said May, “You can’t have a dialogue if you don’t have balance. You can’t be naive about these things.”
With files from Janice Tibbetts, Postmedia News