Courtenay-Alberni MP Gord Johns did not mince words when asked for his reaction to the dropping of charges against Saren Azer in Iranian court.
“I am really concerned about the inaction on the part of the government of Canada,” Johns told The Record, taking time out from his holidays to call the newspaper on Saturday afternoon. “Canada has not acted, when we should be acting.”
As was reported by the Comox Valley Record in July, Saren Azer was arrested in Iran in June, and released on bail.
Iranian court recently dropped the charges against Azer, after a recent court appearance.
Johns said the absence of any Canadian officials at the court proceedings in Iran shows a complete disregard by the Canadian government and he holds the Canadian government responsible for the dropping of the charges.
“The government had the opportunity to make the decisions necessary to make sure that the Iranian authorities are understanding the importance of this file and the importance of returning these children to Canada,” said Johns. “They have failed to act. When Dr. Azer was in court, the Canadian government was nowhere to be found.
“That’s what we are understanding from the court documents; they are wondering why Canada had not submitted anything around the file.”
Johns went on to say that the Canadian government was aware of the proceedings in Iran, implying it was a choice by the government not to pursue the matter.
“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.
“The Iranians reached out to Canada, and by doing so, it showed good will on behalf of the Iranian authorities – I don’t know why they would have reached out to Canadian authorities if they did not want to co-operate. So for Canada to then interject – Global Affairs, politically – in the matter, and stop the RCMP from communicating further with the Iranian authorities is clearly meddling; political interference. We have huge concerns.”
Johns said Alison Azer has been mistreated by the federal government, and added that Prime Minister Trudeau has not followed through on assurances he made to Alison.
“The treatment of Ms. Azer (by the Canadian government) has been really disappointing. She has been treated… like the perpetrator, when she is the victim. The tone of the government needs to change.
“The prime minister has made a promise that he was personally going to be invested in this, and in effect, he’s not, because this wouldn’t be the situation, in the courts in Iran on the red notice.”
“People tend to forget that Ms. Azer fought tooth and nail and used all of her financial resources to object to Dr. Azer leaving the country with the children, due to concerns that this might actually be exactly what might happen. And her fears were realized. The government has a huge responsibility to Ms. Azer for the safe return for her children.
“This is a situation where the (Canadian) courts failed and the courts and people, the ones that made this terrible mistake, their responsibility is to elected officials. These elected officials need to step up their game and fight for the safe return of those children.”
From his perspective, Johns said this case remains his highest priority.
“This is the most important case in the country. These are Canadian kids, and they are my constituents, and I will do anything I can to bring them back to Canada.”