Canada's minister of foreign affairs, John Baird, responded to a win by Iranian moderate Hassan Rouhani in the country's Saturday presidential election with a strongly-worded statement describing the poll as "effectively meaningless."
Baird accused the regime of silencing "all open, meaningful discussion of key issues that affect ordinary citizens and denied Iranians the right to peaceful assembly and freedom of association" in the lead-up to the vote. The president of Iran has some political power, but the role is limited by parliament as well as the positioning of the Supreme Leader.
Canada is home to the third-largest Iranian emigre community, and the Canadian government has been particularly vocal about human rights abuses there.
Even so, Iranians living in Canada were barred from voting in the nation's presidential election, for which they blamed both the Iranian and Canadian government.
According to Negar Mortazavi, a US-based Iranian-American reporter, some Iranians "decided to drive to the US" in order to participate in the Iranian election. "Imagine driving from Toronto to New York to vote!" Mortazavi told GlobalPost.
A group of them even banded together to cast a symbolic ballot, according to GlobalVoices.
"We believe that boycotting an election is a convenient, and maybe a romantic and idealistic approach, but nevertheless, in order to be able to be a part of the solution individuals must use their right to vote," organizer Arash Kamangir told GlobalVoices.
The Canadian government's own position was anything but idealistic.
“With Iran’s opposition leaders in jail and their supporters having been denied the ability to coordinate since June 2009, none of the eight regime-approved candidates represents a real alternative for Iranian voters," Baird wrote. "The person tagged to replace [former president Mahmud] Ahmadinejad will simply be another of [Supreme Leader] Ayatollah Khamenei’s puppets in the tragic and dangerous pantomime that is life for all Iranians."
“Canada commends the courage of the Iranian people who expressed their aspiration to freedom in the face of the ruthless suppressions. Given the regime’s manipulation of the collective will and democratic process, the results of the June 14 vote are effectively meaningless," he wrote, concluding: "While we long ago lost faith in the regressive and hollow Iranian regime, we have not lost faith in the Iranian people.”
Baird's statement was not lost on social media, meanwhile: