Freeland to look into approval of Syria’s Assad-friendly honorary consul

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland says she’ll look into why Ottawa signed off on a sympathizer of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad as that country’s honorary consul in Montreal.

A report in Maclean’s says Waseem Ramli, a well-to-do Montreal businessman and “unapologetic supporter” of Assad, was nominated for the post earlier this summer and approved last month by Global Affairs Canada.

As honorary consul, Ramli will exert control over the affairs of the Syrian diaspora in eastern Canada and in much of the United States. The magazine said Ottawa’s confirmation of Ramli to the post sparked fear and concern within the Syrian community in Montreal.

In an interview with Maclean’s, Ramli described the White Helmets, a volunteer group of first responders and war crime monitors that enjoys the support of the federal government, as a “terrorist organization” that supports Al-Qaeda.

The Maclean’s article also says Ramli “bristled” at suggestions that he wouldn’t treat Syrians equally.

Freeland said on social media that she was “shocked” by Ramli’s comments and the views “he has espoused publicly on social media and elsewhere.”

She says 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.

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