The Iranian Embassy is seen Friday Sept 7, 2012 in Ottawa, Ontario.
Credits: Andrei Filippov /QMI AGENCY
OTTAWA -- Upon hearing Canada had closed its embassy in Tehran, an Iranian human rights activist wanted to pop a bottle of champagne.
"This needed to happen," Shabnam Assadollahi said.
Assadollahi is just one member of the Iranian Canadian community who has been lobbying the government to do what it just did Friday - cut all diplomatic ties with Iran.
After being declared personae non grata, 17 Iranian officials and their families have been given five days to leave Canada. All Canadian personnel have left Iran with Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird citing safety concerns.
Iranian lawyer and activist Sayeh Hassan said the closure would boost the morale of pro-democracy activists in Iran.
Arshavez Mozafari, a PhD student at the University of Toronto, was less positive.
"The closure of the embassy serves as a victory for Iranian-Canadian activists who have unfortunately assumed a detached and thoughtless attitude towards the ideologically charged intentions of Harper's Conservative government," he said.
Senator Linda Frum hailed the move as "an important message to the Iranian regime. We now consider them a state that sponsors terrorism."
One item on Canada's list of grievances against Iran is allegations of spying. Asked if the expulsion of Iranian diplomats from Canada meant the regime could no longer conduct espionage here, Queen's University's Middle East expert Houchang Hassan-Yari said probably not.
"It's possible [they could continue to spy] because they have managed to infiltrate [Canadian institutions]," he said.
On its website, the Iranian embassy issued a statement in Farsi.
"According to the hostile decision of the Canadian government, the Iranian embassy in Ottawa has been closed and inevitably any consulate services for fellow Iranians has stopped," it reads. "Please avoid sending any consulate affairs documents."