‘We have some concerns with the way you’ve spun the facts:’ Senator Don Meredith’s office responds

Yesterday I received the following email from Kevin Bourne, “communications and policy adviser” for Senator Don Meredith, regarding my article about the senator’s attendance at an Iranian embassy reception at Ottawa’s City Hall:

Good afternoon,

I’m contacting you in response to your article regarding Senator Meredith’s appearance at the Iranian Cultural Centre event last week. We have some concerns with the way you’ve spun the facts about the event.

You wrote, “Tory senator joins Iranian embassy shindig” when the event was organized by the Iranian Cultural Centre and not the embassy. Nowhere on the event flyer is the Iranian embassy, the Chargé D’affaires, or Mr. Mohammadi mentioned. While Mr. Mohammadi, the head of the Iranian Cultural Centre, is also the Cultural Counsellor for the Iranian Embassy, the event was clearly coordinated by the cultural centre. You may have gathered it was organized by the embassy due to Mr. Mohammadi’s participation in the event, but seeing the embassy and head of mission were mentioned nowhere in the promotional materials, any connection between the event and the embassy is a conclusion you came to on your own and is not a fact. To report otherwise is not responsible and is misleading readers.

You also wrote that Senator Meredith was the “Guest of Honour”. At no point was Senator Meredith given a special invitation outside of the event flyer made available to the general public. The term “Guest of Honour” was used out of context and has created an impression with readers that is not factual.
The senator has already received death threats today as a result of articles like these. I ask that you update this article and provide readers with the facts.

Bourne’s complaints are without merit. I will address them in order.

1. The event “was organized by the Iranian Cultural Centre and not the embassy.”

The Cultural Centre of Iran, or the Cultural Centre of the Islamic Republic of Iran, as it sometimes describes itself, is run out of the Iranian embassy. They are one and the same. That Bourne claims otherwise is surprising.

Senator Meredith seemed aware of this fact when, in his speech, he talked about his “great friend” Kambiz Sheikh-Hassani, Iran’s chargé d’affaires at the Iranian embassy. This would be an odd thing to mention had Meredith believed, as Bourne apparently does, that there was no connection between the event and the Iranian embassy.

2. Senator Meredith was not a “guest of honour.”

I was at the reception. “Guest of honour” is an entirely accurate description. Hamid Mohammadi, Iran’s cultural counselor, was visibly pleased by his presence. You don’t need to take my word for it. The Iranian embassy’s cultural wing features the senator on its Facebook page.

3. “At no point was Senator Meredith given a special invitation outside of the event flyer made available to the general public.

Guests, including Senator Meredith but not me, were chosen and invited in advance. There was no broad public outreach to promote this event. It was not even advertised on the website of the Cultural Centre of Iran.

I asked Bourne to provide more details about the death threats Meredith has received, and to indicate whether the RCMP have been alerted, but have not received a response.

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‘We have some concerns with the way you’ve spun the facts:’ Senator Don Meredith’s office responds

  1. Even if the original piece had been written with the senator’s preferred semantics, I’m hard pressed to see how readers’ appraisal of events would be any different. And to go so far as to suggest journalists are causal in the resulting (alleged) death threats is disgusting. Why do so many modern conservative politicians lack even the pretense of honour and decency?

  2. “The event was organized by the Iranian Cultural Centre and not the embassy.”

    Oh PLEASE. Is the senator’s staff hopelessly naive, or do they think that we are?

  3. PMO is upset with Meredith over this, and it has to trickle down to the reporter. In the meantime, why not take a moment to follow the link to the Facebook page, and “like” the entry where the Iranian Cultural Centre updates the cover photo to one of Meredith and Muhammadi.So the good Senator understands he’s getting some attention for his activities.

    • Oh, fyi: no sooner did I post this remark and share the photo on FB, but guess what? That photo has been completely removed from their website!

  4. Kevin Bourne, “communications and policy adviser”
    Communications = fail
    Policy adviser = poor
    Tory Spiner = just another one to hide the dirt…

  5. Didn’t we literally just have a national headline story
    (maybe a month ago) featuring Nazanin Afshin-jam (Min. MacKay’s spouse) lamenting how the embassy uses Iranian cultural events to intimidate and recruit Canadian-Iranians to serve the regime back home.

  6. As usual, the media attacks the Conservative. This event was held in Ottawa City Hall – no attack on the Mayor — oh, that’s right, he’s a Liberal. It was (in part) organized by a University group – no attack on that — oh, right, left wing organizations like Canadian universities and their many lefty student groups; can’t attack them — what’s left? Oh, a Conservative — attack, attack, attack – you media types are getting so perdictable and booooorrrrring — thankfully, your influence is diminishing —

    • He’s actually been reporting about universities hosting similar events, noting some very similar paradoxes raised in the original piece on Meredith. The hall was rented from the City – the mayor did not invite (to my knowledge). Meredith is a member of the nation’s governing party, and his attendance was ostebsibly contrary to their official line. That sounds like news to me, and not so much of an attack. Speaking of attacks, I only see one party suggesting the other is responsible for death threats, and that ain’t Petrou. Other than all of that, you make a very compelling and cogent case. Thanks for sharing.

    • The point here isn’t that there should be no events hosted by diplomatic missions of countries not on Conservative buddy list, but rather that you can’t have it both ways. Tory rhetoric against Iranian regime didn’t begin with the expulsion, but rather culminated in it. In other words, only a complete moron would attend an event put on by their party’s avowed enemy.

      The only thing that’s diminishing is my IQ when reading your nonsense. Mercifully, I’m starting from 140.

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