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:
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.