The controversy over the cancellation of the showing of Iranium has reached a new level: Canada’s Heritage Minister has ordered the National Archives to show the film. Sources in Canada say that the movie will be screened sometime in February — with extensive security.
Here’s the report from the National Post:
Heritage Minister Orders Library and Archives Canada to Show Controversial Film
OTTAWA — Heritage Minister James Moore has instructed Library and Archives Canada to show the documentary film Iranium after “threats of violence” caused a screening of the film Tuesday to be cancelled, the minister’s office has announced.
Both Mr. Moore and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney had earlier criticized Library and Archives, a federal Crown agency, for cancelling the screening.
“The principle of free speech is one of the cornerstones of our democracy,” MR. Moore’s office said in a prepared statement. “Minister Moore took action as soon as he heard that the film was cancelled. The minister has instructed the Library and Archives to honour their commitment to show the film, while taking all appropriate steps to ensure security. Canada does not accept attempts from the Iranian Embassy to dictate what films will, and will not be shown in Canada.”
Pauline Portelance, a spokeswoman for Library and Archives Canada, said the Iranian embassy had sent a letter to the federal institution on the weekend asking that the film be cancelled. The request was denied.
Then, people — whom Ms. Portelance described as “members of the public” — started phoning Library and Archives complaining about the planned screening and threatening to protest. “The threats were getting too serious,” Ms. Portelance said.
A decision was then made to cancel the screening.
Asked about the issue during a press conference on Wednesday morning, Liberal house leader David McGuinty said he supports a “free and open society.”
Officials from both Library and Archives and from the film event’s sponsor, the Free Thinking Society, told iPolitics Wednesday they are prepared to discuss showing the film at a future date.
Fred Litwin, president of the society, said he believed the original cancellation was “ludicrous” but that he believed nevertheless the Library and Archives auditorium remains a good place to show the film.
A website about the film, says:” Iranium powerfully reports on the many aspects of the threat America and the world now faces using rarely before seen footage of Iranian leaders, and interviews with 25 leading politicians, Iranian dissidents and experts on Middle East policy, terrorism, and nuclear proliferation.”
Iranium has only had a few screenings so far in the United States. Its premiere was scheduled to take place Feb. 8 simultaneously at several American cities.
The cancellation angered ministers Moore and Kenney who both twittered their concern.
“I am disappointed that Library & Archives Canada chose not to show the film tonight due to threats of violence,” Mr. Moore said Tuesday. “The Iranian Embassy will not dictate to the Government of Canada which films will or will not be shown in Canada.”
Kenney tweeted similar remarks.
“The cancellation of tonight’s screening of Iranium is outrageous,” Mr. Kenney said Tuesday.
Hat tip: Vlad Tepes.