To Err On The Side Of Compassion

Overall, I am reasonably satisfied with Loon Theory’s tenor and tone during the Embassy story fiasco. We moved with an important breaking story, made our first foray into Twitter, tried to glean real news from multiple sources and (hopefully) coined the term Twitter Burn.

But let’s face it, although Loon Theory was miles away from the hysterical foaming at the mouth we saw some places – and though we advocated caution with rumours, and restraint regarding government policy and the tactical Embassy situation on the ground – we nonetheless passed on erroneous information and in an honest attempt to both learn and inform we likely muddied the waters to some extent.

This comment from an earlier post still best represents my view during the weekend and it continues to be my view today:

Of course we can’t know the situation and logistics on the ground – or even the specific policy involved but if at all possible, I believe we should open our Embassy doors for injured people seeking help.

It’s not as if the current Iranian government has a deep love and respect for Canada as I understand it, so fallout from this is perhaps not such an issue.

Besides, from here in Toronto, and with the above considerations in mind, it looks like the right thing to do.

Perhaps Former Canadian Ambassador to Iran Ken Taylor, in his well documented heroics during the U.S./Iran Hostage crisis, inadvertently created an over romanticised view of what an Embassy can and should do.

Here is Wikipedia’s background on Embassies or Diplomatic Missions.

So my position remains the same: if we are possibly able to help those in need of humanitarian assistance, then we should do our best to do that.

For some, the over-riding position seems to be fear of the reaction from a disputed and possibly completely dis-credited Iranian government leading to an “international dispute” caused by our actions.

When there is a crisis and people need medical assistance, a Canadian citizen does not ask “What does the rulebook say?” or “What are others doing?”

A Canadian offers any help they can reasonably and safely provide and though the safety of Embassy staff is a very serious concern, our own Ambassador Taylor has shown that sometimes we do the right thing regardless of perceived consequences.

Over the years I have very rarely agreed with former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney on anything, but during a so called “Boat People” situation that occurred on his watch, he went against policy and furious dissent and allowed those seeking refuge to come to our shores.

 I believe he paid a political price within his own party and with many Canadians for this action, but he made this Canadian proud when he stated that:

“We don’t want people jumping to the head of the line . . . (but) if we err, we will always err on the side of justice and on the side of compassion“. (bold added)

When Mr. Mulroney said that, he had his hand directly on the pulse of our shared Canadian identity.

He did the right thing.

So too, with our Embassies in Iran and around the world.

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