The Canadian foreign minister said she was surprised to learn of the appointment of someone close to the Syrian regime as an honorary consul to Syria in Montreal, and called for an internal investigation, a government source said Tuesday.
A Montreal-based Syrian businessman close to the Syrian regime was recently named an honorary consul after meeting outgoing Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during a fundraising meeting of the Liberal Party, McLeans magazine reported on Monday.
A source close to the dossier told AFP that the office of Secretary of State Christia Freeland had not been notified, because the appointment of a non-high-level person was usually done by ordinary Canadian officials.
The Canadian government will review its criteria for appointments, and is considering the possibility of dismissing Wassim Al Ramli, according to this source.
“I am shocked by the comments of the Syrian Honorary Consul in Montreal to the press and the views he expressed on social media”, Freeland wrote on Monday evening.
“I and my team weren’t aware that Canada’s international affairs staff had agreed to his appointment.
I asked the ministry to study this issue immediately”.
The man driving a red Hummer car with a picture of Bashar Al Assad and a Syrian flag on the streets of Montreal posted a picture of him alongside the Syrian president on his Facebook account, where he doesn’t hide his support for the regime.
The honorary consul is usually not a professional diplomat and often does not receive a salary.
He isn’t entitled to express his political views publicly.
By becoming an honorary consul, Wassim Al Ramli becomes the official point of contact between tens of thousands of refugees who fled the war in Syria and were received by the Trudeau government in recent years, and the administration of their country.
The Syrian consulate in Montreal is expected to reopen on October 1 and will be with another office in Vancouver, Syria’s only diplomatic representation in North America, the magazine said.