Alison Azer shares a moment with Courtenay-Alberni MP Gord Johns during a visit to Ottawa this spring.

Foreign affairs office takes issue with MP’s comments

'Calling on the government to provide an explanation ... does nothing to advance our shared goal'

  • Aug. 9, 2016 12:00 p.m.

Record staff

The office of the minister of foreign affairs has emailed The Record with an official response to Courtenay-Alberni MP Gord Johns’s comments in recent articles regarding the developments in the Azer case.

In an interview with The Record Saturday afternoon, Courtenay-Alberni MP Gord Johns questioned the federal government’s handling of the Azer case, saying Canada has failed Alison Azer, by not acting upon the Iranian government’s notification that Saren Azer had been detained, in accordance with an Interpol red notice.

“When the RCMP were notified by Interpol that they were serving on a red notice, that was the first opportunity for Canada to finally act on a 10-month-old file. Instead what they did was they politically interfered at a time that was critical in this case, against their promise that they wouldn’t interject in an RCMP file,” Johns said in Saturday’s phone interview. “They (Canadian government) have failed to act. When Dr. Azer was in court, the Canadian government was nowhere to be found.”

“The Government of Canada’s goal is, and will always be, the safe return of the Azer children to Canada,” said Chantal Gagnon, press secretary for the office of the minister of foreign affairs, in an email addressed to editor Terry Farrell, received Tuesday morning. “Global Affairs Canada decisions and advice always consider the specifics of the given context to assure the safety and wellbeing of all Canadians, in any situation. ”

“The Government of Canada has been actively engaged on the Azer children case since it first began, and will continue to be so.

“Officials in Ottawa and in six missions abroad have spent hundreds of hours working to find a resolution to this very complex family case.”

Gagnon went on to explain that the complexity is expounded, due to Iran’s political environment.

“Parental abduction cases can be especially complicated where a child is taken to a country, such as Iran, which does not recognize dual-nationality,” she wrote.

“The RCMP is an independent agency which operates Interpol Ottawa. Interpol Red and Yellow Notices have been relayed to the Government of Iran.”

“Interpol Notices are international requests for co-operation or alerts allowing police in member countries to share critical crime-related information.”

In regards to the detention and ensuing court appearance in Iran, Gagnon said the onus was on the Iranian government to follow through with the Interpol red notice.

“The decision to enforce an Interpol Notice, including the decision to detain or extradite, rests with the host government,” wrote Gagnon, who then reiterated the government’s commitment to the Azer children. “The safety and security of Sharvahn, Rojevahn, Meitan and Dersim remain a priority for the Government of Canada, as evidenced by the personal attention this file has  received from PM Trudeau, Min. Dion and PS Alghabra.”

Gagnon said Alison Azer and Johns have been kept abreast of the federal government’s actions, and reasons behind the process. She said now is not the time for political grandstanding.

“We have regularly updated Ms. Azer and MPs Laverdière and Johns and on multiple occasions have discussed the rationale and steps taken by the Government of Canada. In fact, on May 9, 2016, MPs Laverdière and Johns agreed with the assessment of the specific challenges to this case.

“The responsibility lies with all parliamentarians to work together and resist politicizing consular cases to help Canadians in trouble abroad. Calling on the government to provide an explanation for a rationale that was previously shared and understood does nothing to advance our shared goal of seeing the children safely returned home.”

 

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