Islamists, Iran, and the RCMP’s "cultural diversity"

A conference on “Just and Sustainable Peace” raises eyebrows in Ottawa

An RCMP “ethnic liaison officer” is urging his colleagues to attend a conference on a “Just and Sustainable Peace” that was organized in part by a Green Party of Canada candidate who believes the 9/11 attacks were an “inside job,” and whose participants include the director general of an NGO that endorses hate-filled stereotypes about Jews. Three academics from Iran are flying in for the event.

Among speakers scheduled to speak at the conference, which will take place in Ottawa on Oct. 28, is Davood Ameri, director general of the Iran-based “Islamic World Peace Forum,” an organization whose website includes cartoons of Israeli soldiers murdering babies, and one of a hook-nosed Jew wearing a top hat full of tiny skulls.

Saied Ameli, identified by conference organizers as dean of the faculty of global studies at Tehran University, is scheduled to attend, as is Elham Aminzadeh, reportedly of Tehran University’s faculty of law, who has praised Iran for what she describes as its efforts to protect women’s rights since the Islamic Revolution of 1979. She was formerly an Iranian parliamentarian and in 2006 claimed stoning sentences were no longer handed down in Iran. They are. A third Iranian academic scheduled to participate is Hassan Hosseini.

Nasir Islam, a professor at the University of Ottawa, is on the program; as is Vern Neufeld Redekop of Saint Paul’s University in Ottawa; Ottawa lawyer Ernest Tannis; and Zijad Delic, head of the Canadian Islamic Congress.

The conference has been organized by Green Party members who call themselves the “Ottawa Group of Four.” They include Qais Ghanem, a doctor whose posting on the “Medical Professionals for 9/11 Truth” reads: “I have, from the outset, believed that the 9/11 horrendous massacre of thousands of innocent civilians could not possibly be the work of a dozen amateur Saudis. Close watching of video clips and reading of lots of expert opinions convinced me further that this is an inside job, or that it was at the very least done with inside help.”

Other members of the group are Paul Maillet, a retired air force colonel; Sylvie Lemieux, who retired from the Canadian Forces as a lieutenant-colonel and then worked in the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade; and Akbar Manoussi, who was recently hired as chair of “clean energy education” at the Willis College of Business, Health, and Technology in Ottawa.

Manoussi’s Green Party online profile for the 2007 provincial election in Ontario says he is “secretary general” of the “Iranian Scholars Association of Canada” — which appears to exist only in Manoussi’s imagination. His claim prompted nine Iranian-Canadian journalists and academics to write Green Party leader Elizabeth May in 2008 and inform her that they had never heard of the organization.

Manoussi has also identified himself as “director general” of the “Iranian Cultural Centre” in Ottawa, which shares the same address as the Iranian embassy. At least once in the last year he has attended a conference in Iran hosted by the government there and geared toward burnishing the country’s image and attracting foreign investment.

Manoussi is also member of the RCMP’s “cultural diversity committee” in the National Capital Region. According to Sgt. Marc Ménard, a spokesperson for the RCMP, the committee tries to reach out to ethnic communities and build ties between them and the national police force. “It’s about sharing information and helping people, nothing more than that,” he says.

Ménard often sits in on committee meetings and says he was there when Manoussi told RCMP officers involved about the conference he was planning. Manoussi then sent an email to Cpl. Wayne Russett, an RCMP “Aboriginal and Ethnic Liaison Officer,” who is in charge of the committee. Maclean’s has obtained a copy of that email:

“Hello Wayne; Here is an International Peace Conference that I would like to invite you, your colleagues and members of our Cultural Diversity Consultative Committee. Please le me know how many people are attending. I can provide you with a complementary table of six. I can provide the complementary tickets to our group as well.”

Russett forwarded Manoussi’s email to his RCMP colleagues on the committee with the following personal message included:

“Here is an invite to an important conference from Akbar Manoussi. I am already attending this event as a guest of another Community member. Hope to see some of you there.”

In an interview with Maclean’s, organizer Paul Maillet said the conference, which will feature a panel discussion among all participants, will strive to “change the language from one of conflict to one of peace,” and to “create a safe space to bring some people together to start a dialogue.”

Maillet said he didn’t know anything about the Iranian participants, as Akbar Manoussi had chosen and invited them. He said the Iranians were paying their own expenses. He hoped to eliminate the costs of renting a government conference centre in downtown Ottawa by involving a senator or MP. He says Bloc Québécois MP Richard Nadeau was originally booked as a sponsor but canceled due to a scheduling conflict. Nadeau’s office did not respond to an email request for comment from Maclean’s.