OTTAWA — Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer says it is “outrageous” that Ottawa has allowed a sympathizer of Syrian President Bashar Assad to become that country’s honorary consul in Montreal.
Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said Monday in response to a report by Maclean’s that she would look into how and why Waseem Ramli, a well-to-do Montreal businessman and “unapologetic supporter” of Assad, was approved for the post by Global Affairs Canada.
She added neither she nor her team were aware that Global Affairs officials had approved his appointment and has asked the department to look into it right away.
Scheer says Ramli should never have been allowed in the first place and is demanding Freeland “do more than just a review.”
While Canada severed diplomatic ties with Damascus in 2012, the Syrian government has maintained honorary consulates in Montreal and Vancouver ostensibly to assist Syrians with passports and other administrative issues.
This isn’t the first time the Syrian consulate in Montreal has caused headaches for the government.
Then-foreign affairs minister John Baird found himself under fire in 2014 when he met Syria’s then-honorary consul in Montreal — a meeting Baird’s office later alleged was set up under false pretenses.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 24, 2019.
The Canadian Press