Tehran's Toronto front: The Canadian government responds

The Iranian chargé d’affaires was called in by Foreign Affairs today to discuss the “Center for Iranian Studies,” an institution in Toronto that describes itself as a non-governmental organization promoting Iranian culture and scholarship.

As reported here last week, the centre was founded by a former Iranian diplomat and is still funded by the Iranian embassy. According to a letter signed by eight Iranian academics at Toronto universities, the institution has been contacting Iranian students in Toronto to offer Farsi classes and funding for cultural activities.

A spokesperson for the Department of Foreign Affairs today told Maclean’s: “The existence of the centre in Toronto is not, in itself, a matter of concern to the department. However, in light of the purely governmental nature of the duties of diplomats, the involvement of Iranian diplomats in the direction or operations of any domestic corporation could be held to be inappropriate activity. Such position has already been communicated to Iranian authorities in the past and will continue to be communicated whenever required.”

Foreign Affairs said that officials from the department will meet with Iranian embassy officials today to “determine the relationship that the Embassy has with the cultural centre.”

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