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Canada cuts diplomatic ties to Iran

Shahrvand editor worries about immigrant family connections

NEWS of the federal government's decision to cut diplomatic ties with Iran and shutter its embassy could have negative consequences for Iranian Canadians, a local Persian journalist warns.

Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird made the announcement Friday morning, citing Iran as a threat to global security, its sponsorship of terrorist groups, the country's human rights record, suspicions over its nuclear program and its unwillingness to protect foreign diplomats.

But the decision may regrettable, both for local Iranian Canadians, and on the geopolitical stage, according to Hadi Ebrahimi, editor and publisher of Shahrvand, a North Vancouver-based Persian interest newspaper.

Ebrahimi had yet to hear any reaction from his readers Friday afternoon but he knows many of the concerns they have - especially when it makes it harder to contact family members still in Iran.

"Of course, Iranian Canadians worry about their connections with their families and they can't really go to Iran because Iran doesn't accept dual citizenship," Ebrahimi said. "If they want to see their families or invite them to come here, those doors are going to be closed as a result," he said.

There could also be logistical troubles for Iranian Canadian business owners who still do business with partners in Iran, as well as students and Iranians who may be here visiting, Ebrahimi predicted.

Ebrahimi said the decision seemed rushed and taken out of step with Canada's allies in the United States and Europe. "It's scaring me because it looks like the Harper government has been getting closer to the hard-liners," he said. "It's getting so close to Israel and leaving the European countries and the U.S. behind."

Ebrahimi said he wishes the Canadian government would follow the lead of President Barack Obama. "He always says there is an open door for negotiations," Ebrahimi said.