This afternoon, a couple of NPSIA students, NPSIA Director Dane Rowlands and I attended a Carleton U Alumni Association luncheon. The keynote speaker was Ken Taylor, who served as Canada’s Ambassador to Iran during the Iranian Revolution. Taylor’s role and that of Canada in the rescue of six American diplomats were slighted in Argo. Taylor made no bones about it in his talk today, displaying something that Americans tend to miss: a keen Canadian nationalism. This was a big moment in Canadian history, making a difference in the lives of six Americans and in America’s situation in the Mideast at the time. Taylor did more than just open doors (as he is mostly depicted in the movie), and Canada did most of the paperwork.
Indeed, Taylor responded to a question about the passports used by the Americans with this story:
The Canadians had prepped the passports but then the CIA used the wrong stamp (using the Shah’s dating system and not the new revolutionary regime’s). Ottawa had to do the passports twice, and it was not Ben Affleck’s character (Tony Mendez) doing the passport alterations in a hotel room.
Overall, Taylor gave an excellent talk about his experiences in the Canadian foreign service, and some interesting perspectives on the current situations in Iran and Ottawa. It was an honour to meet him. So, a well spent lunch hour or two.