Senator Don Meredith
Credits: FILE PHOTO
Critics of Iran's government say Senator Don Meredith's decision to attend was naïve and his appearance lends legitimacy to a regime that threatens the world.
"Some politicians are very ignorant and uneducated and they allow opportunists to take advantage (of them)," said Shabnam Assadollahi, who fled Iran to come to Canada.
Assadolahi says she's emailed MPs and senators about Iranian spying.
Anti-regime activist Shadi Paveh says she is "horrified" by Meredith's attendance at the event given the Iranian regime's crimes against humanity.
The Prime Minister's Office is not amused either.
"Our government's opposition to the Iranian regime is well known," said spokesman Andrew MacDougall. "Senator Meredith was not representing the government at this event."
Meredith is unapologetic.
"My purpose in going to that event was not to support the regime, but to express my support for the Iranian-Canadians and the people of Iran," said Meredith.
He adds "he has no time for" people who oppose his efforts to push for peace.
Regime critics are also upset Meredith called Iranian charge d'affaires Kambiz Sheikh-Hassani his "great friend" on Saturday.
Sheikh-Hassani has defended Iran's embassy against accusations its cultural arm is just a front for recruiting agents who work for Tehran's interests.
He also publicly accused Prime Minister Stephen Harper in January of making "uninformed, undocumented, and inflammatory allegations" by saying Iran's nuclear program poses a global threat.
Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird has been harshly critical of Iran and has warned international officials not to attend events sponsored by Iran's Muslim theocracy.
The minister urged UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon to skip an international summit hosted by Iran last month, fearing "his presence there will be used to bolster the regime politically."
Public Safety Minister Vic Toews has also raised concerns about Iran's embassy in Ottawa "fomenting unrest."
Meantime, Meredith is trying to clarify his comments on another front.
At a conference on religious persecution at the Canadian Coptic Centre near Toronto last month, he referred to Norwegian mass murderer Anders Breivik as a "so-called Christian fundamentalist."
Some took that to mean he was calling Breivik a Christian terrorist, but Meredith says he was just using a label improperly slapped on by the media.
"He's certainly not a Christian," said Meredith. "The Bible teaches me to love my neighbour as myself."
Breivik was sentenced to 21 years in prison last month, for a 2011 killing spree that took 77 lives at a political party's youth camp in Norway.