“We are committed to a day when Iran can be free from tyranny,” Prime Minister Stephen Harper in an address to members of Vancouver’s Iranian community in Coast Coal Harbor Hotel’s ballroom, as protesters held signs and shouted slogans outside.
Prime Minister Harper was in town to celebrate Nowruz – a centuries old spring equinox festival and commemoration of Iranian New Year.
Canadian Iranian Foundation founder Nassreen Fisoof organized the black tie gala. She said Conservative MP for West Vancouver Sunshine Coast Sea-to-Sky John Weston approached her with the Prime Minister’s intention to attend the $135 dollar a plate event.
Weston introduced the Prime Minister with a speech focused on the economic initiatives of the Harper government, citing 31 free trade agreements and expansions in the energy industry under the regime.
National Defence Minister Jason Kenney and a heavy contingent of the British Columbia Federal Conservative caucus were also in attendance.
The Prime Minister’s low-key appearance drew a group of protesters who opposed his environmental policies and proposed expansion of police surveillance.
Protest against Harper in downtown Vancouver by Mac Ball. Photo from Facebook
Critics – including the Canadian Bar Association – argue that the broad provisions of Harper’s proposed C-51 “anti-terror” surveillance bill will undermine civil rights in the name of security.