Human rights activists, such as Nazanin Afshin-Jam, wife of Defence Minister Peter MacKay, are appalled at the recent decision of Canadian bank TD to close the accounts of Iranian Canadians. The bank recently gave one month’s notice to Iranian Canadians, an action they purport to have taken in keeping with the Ottawa embassy’s sanctions against Tehran’s because of Ahmedinejad’s threatened buildup of nuclear power. It is hard to describe this action as anything but racist.
While I can see rules such as the one that currently exists regarding transfers of money between Iran and Canada over the sum of $40,000, because that can seem suspicious under some circumstances, there is no way that Iranian Canadians should have to tolerate a bank refusing to serve them. This comes perilously close to civil rights abuses of the past when signs read “Whites only.”
This is yet another example of how sanctions levied against the leader of a country, like Ahmedinejad, can threaten the lives of livelihoods of the everyday people. The leaders aren’t hurt. Ahmedinejad isn’t having trouble with money; I’m sure of it. I doubt he cares about the plight of Iranian Canadians who are having trouble finding a bank to serve them. It is very inconvenient to have to close one bank account and then open another one. It affects your quality of life. It is not fair.
I would also like to make another point. Remember my blogs on why Canadian girls should date Middle Eastern guys? This is a perfect example. Defence Minister Peter MacKay is married to a Persian lady, Nazanin Afshin-Jam. Because of this, I imagine that he, as a person of influence, will be a force for good in trying to solve this situation even in a small way. I know he has no power over the banks; that is not his juridisction; however, the fact that he has ties to Iran through his wife means that he will be more culturally sensitive. The more people we have who see Iran as a potential partner, rather than an enemy, the more chance there will be of establishing a healthy partnership that will help both countries.
Most Persians I have spoken with do not support Ahmadinejad. It is unfair in the extreme to make them pay for his political decisions. Canada, and other countries, need to come up with a new way to punish leaders who do things they don’t want them to do.