A Saint John business woman says the government's decision to cut ties with Iran has left her family stranded in Canada.
Zahra Sharifian is the owner of Zee Confections, a Saint John catering company specializing in low fat recipes from her homeland of Iran.
Sharifian applied for permanent residency two and a half years ago. With an expiring Iranian passport she says travel outside of Canada is now impossible. Now that the Iranian embassy in Ottawa is closed, Sharifian says she is stuck in Canada.
"If something happens I can't go back and forth nowhere, none of the three of us," said Sharifian. "My husband, he's still in Iran. He can't come here because he has no visa."
Sharifian lives with her two children in Saint John. She says she was planning on renewing her expiring Iranian passport. But now that Canada has declared Iranian diplomats personae non gratae, she's not sure what will happen to her family.
"We have to wait, she said. "We just have to wait and see what will happen."
James Devine is an assistant professor of International Relations at Mount Allison University in Sackville, NB. He follows the politics of the Middle East and says cutting ties with Iran will be difficult to change.
"It would take a major change in Iranian policy I think before the Canadian government feel that it has justification for changing its policies," said Devine.
Canada's Department of Foreign Affairs says it is up to Iran to appoint a third party for Iranians living in Canada to renew expiring passports.
On Sept. 7, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird announced the suspension of Canada's diplomatic relations with Iran.
"Iran is among the world's worst violators of human rights," said Baird. "It shelters and materially supports terrorist groups."
Baird also made reference to Iran's "blatant disregard" of the Vienna Convention that guarantees the protection of diplomatic personnel.
Last November, Iranian students stormed the British Embassy in Tehran and ransacked its offices. Britain's Foreign Office summoned an Iranian diplomat in London amid complaints that Iran failed to provide proper security to the embassy and didn't do enough in response to the attack.