Among Canadian invitees to conferences hosted by the Iranian government this spring and summer was one Akbar Manoussi, a former candidate for the Green Party of Ontario and Canada. Manoussi’s titles and affiliations, which are almost comical in their pompous absurdity, have included: “secretary general” of the “Iranian Scholars Association of Canada,” which appears to exist only on the Internet and which has a membership list that may be limited to Manoussi himself; and “director general” of the “Iranian Cultural Centre” in Ottawa, which is run out of the Iranian embassy.
I have now learned that several Iranian-Canadian scholars and journalists wrote Green Party leader Elizabeth May in October 2008, before the last federal election, to alert her to Manoussi’s ties to the government of Iran and to his dubious credentials.
“His nomination has made us wonder whether the Green Party does serious background checks of its candidates,” they wrote. “We Iranian-Canadian academics, journalists, and writers, who have lived and worked in this country for over two decades, have never heard of the ‘Iranian Scholars Association of Canada.’ We are wondering when this Association was established; who were the founding members; what is its governance structure for which Mr. Manoussi is the Secretary General; what is its mandate, and what activities it has been involved in.”
They also expressed concern about the “Iranian Cultural Centre” and its links to the Iranian embassy, adding: “There is no doubt that such a candidate, regardless of the outcome of elections, will harm the Green Party’s image and raise question about the party’s judgment.”
The letter was signed by the following (with their affiliations listed as they were in October 2008):
– Nasrin Almasi, Editor, Shahrvand weekly (the largest Persian-language newspaper in North America)
– Dr. Minoo Derayeh, Asst. professor, York University
– Dr. Amir Hassanpour, Associate Professor University of Toronto
– Dr. Haideh Moghissi, Professor, York University
– Dr. Shahrzad Mojab, Professor, University of Toronto
– Dr. Ezat Mossalanejad, Canadian Centre of Victims of Torture
– Dr. Saeed Rahnema, Professor, York University
– Dr. Farrokh Zandi, Professor, York University
– Hassan Zerehi, Publisher and Editor in Chief, Shahrvand weekly
They never received a response. Manoussi contested the election. He was, until recently, CEO of the Green party’s Ottawa-Vanier riding association.
Looking for more?
Get the best of Maclean's sent straight to your inbox. Sign up for news, commentary and analysis.