A lone woman walks past the shuttered Iranian Embassy in Ottawa Sept 10, 2012.
Credits: ANDRE FORGET/QMI AGENCY
OTTAWA - Despite closing the embassy and expelling Iranian diplomats barely a month ago, Canada may be forced to allow Iranian parliamentarians back to the Great White North now that their visa applications to attend the Inter-Parliamentary Union conference later this month have been filed.
Quebec City will host the 127th assembly of the 162-member Inter-Parliamentary Union from Oct. 21-26. Sen. Donald Oliver, president of the Canadian IPU group, said the assembly's theme will be the role of parliament in addressing immigration issues and linguistic and cultural diversity around the world.
In addition to Iran, Syria and North Korea are both members, though neither country has yet registered to attend the conference.
Sources from Citizenship and Immigration Canada say the visa process for delegates to the IPU conference is no different than with any other visa applications.
"A decision has not yet been made about Iran and those applications won't make it up to Ottawa," a source said, adding a visa officer would process the requests.
Iranian applications were received last week. Security checks for Iranian applications generally take up to 30 days. Reasons for denying admission include terrorism, crimes against humanity and criminality in general.
Oliver said the fact Canada severed diplomatic ties with Iran shouldn't be conflated with the conference.
"They are two separate issues," he said. "The rules of parliament say that when you have a general assembly, every member in good standing has to have the opportunity to apply for a visa, to come and participate in the debates."