TORONTO (AP) - The former Canadian ambassador to Iran who protected Americans at great personal risk during the 1979 Iran hostage crisis said Monday it was good to hear Ben Affleck thank Canada after Affleck’s film “Argo” won the Oscar for best picture.
“Argo” came under criticism from some Canadians, including former ambassador Ken Taylor, who said he felt slighted by the movie because it makes Canada look like a meek observer to CIA heroics. Taylor says it minimizes Canada’s role in the Americans’ rescue.
“Finally, he mentioned Canada,” Taylor said. “Under the circumstances, I think that was fine. It certainly acknowledged Canada. I think certainly the movie was about CIA agent Tony Mendez. I think that President Carter’s remarks put everything in proportion.”
Carter appeared on television last week and said, “90 percent of the contributions to the ideas and the consummation of the plan was Canadian,” but the film “gives almost full credit to the American CIA.”
Taylor kept the Americans hidden at his residence and at the home of his deputy, John Sheardown, in Tehran for three months and facilitated their escape by arranging plane tickets and persuading the Ottawa government to issue fake passports. He also agreed to go along with the CIA’s film production cover story to get the Americans out of Iran.
“The movie is done. President Carter expressed his views, and that’s where we sit. I think, being realistic, there’s not much at this point that can be realized,” Taylor said.
“Argo” also makes no mention of Sheardown, the First Secretary at the embassy. Taylor said it was Sheardown who took the first call from the American diplomats who had evaded capture when Iranian militants seized the U.S. Embassy in November 1979 and agreed right away to take the Americans in. Sheardown died on Dec. 30, and his wife, Zena, called the movie disappointing.
“Thirty-three years ago Tony, using nothing but his creativity and his intelligence, got six people out of a very bad situation,” said Terrio, who based his script on Mendez’s book “The Master of Disguise” and a Wired magazine article by Joshuah Bearman.
“And so I want to dedicate this to him and the Taylors and the Sheardowns and people all over the world in the U.S., in Canada, in Iran, who use creativity and intelligence to solve problems non-violently.”