Protests again silenced discussion of a controversial issue in Canada Tuesday night. This time the protests came from the Iranian embassy and from unidentified individuals who threatened Library and Archives Canada with violence if the screening of a documentary film on Iran went ahead.


Protests again silenced discussion of a controversial issue in Canada Tuesday night. This time the protests came from the Iranian embassy and from unidentified individuals who threatened Library and Archives Canada with violence if the screening of a documentary film on Iran went ahead.

The Ottawa Citizen reported that Library and Archives cancelled the showing of Iranium,  an hour-long documentary by filmmaker Raphael Shore on Iranian policies including support for terrorist groups and the country’s nuclear program.

The screening was organized by the Free Thinking Film Society.

According to the Citizen, Library and Archives had received a formal complaint about the planned showing from the Iranian Embassy last weekend and had decided to cancel the showing on Monday before reversing that decision, possibly after a request from Heritage Minister James Moore’s office. Then threats were received on Tuesday and the showing was called off for good.

Ottawa police are searching for a man they believe dropped off a plastic bag containing threatening letters and a white powder later found to be harmless, the CBC reported.

Moore commented on the social networking site Twitter Tuesday that “The Iranian Embassy will not dictate to the Government of Canada which films will or will not be shown in Canada.” Early Wednesday he followed up with the promise that “The documentary ‘Iranium’ will be shown at Library and Archives Canada. New time and date to be announced soon. The show will go on.”

The incident is the latest in which protests or threats have forced cancellation of a public event dealing with a controversial topic. In November, protestors stopped Globe and Mail columnist Christie Blatchford from speaking at the University of Waterloo about her book Helpless: Caledonia’s Nightmare of Fear and Anarchy, and How the Law Failed All of Us. Last March, the University of Ottawa called off a speech by American right-wing commentator Ann Coulter, saying it could not guarantee security.

Grant Buckler is a retired freelance journalist and a volunteer with Canadian Journalists for Free Expression and lives in Kingston, Ont.