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Ben Affleck’s Argo Irks Diplomat for Slighting Canadians

Ben Affleck from the motion picture Argo. Ken Taylor inset.

Ben Affleck from the motion picture Argo. Ken Taylor inset.

Ken Taylor, the Canadian ambassador who sheltered six Americans in Iran, will be watching the awards show tonight with a jaded eye because he thinks Ben Affleck’s film, “Argo,” slighted Canada’s role in the crisis.

In a remarkable statement, Taylor told Canadian newspapers he still feels upset by the movie because it makes Canada look like a “meek observer” in the Americans’ rescue.

He said he would be particularly disappointed if Affleck fails to mention Canada’s role in the 1979 crisis, and the danger it faced for harboring the U.S. embassy workers. “Then it’s a further reflection” on him, he said.

“I would hope he would,” Taylor told the Calgary Herald. “But given the events of the last while, I’m not necessarily anticipating anything.”

Taylor took in the Americans after two other embassies had refused to grant them entry in the hectic hours after Iran’s Revolutionary Guards seized the U.S. Embassy. The remaining 54 workers were taken hostage, and Iranian authorities were searching feverishly for the six who escaped.

Taylor sheltered them in secret until an escape plan was hatched. Argo focuses on the efforts of CIA agent Tony Mendez, whom Affleck played himself.

But former President Jimmy Carter, who was in office at the time, told CNN earlier this week that “90 per cent of the contributions to the ideas and the consummation of the plan was Canadian.” But the CIA gets most of the credit in the film.

“In general it makes it seem like the Canadians were just along for the ride. The Canadians were brave. Period,” Taylor said.

“There would be no movie without the Canadians. We took the six in without being asked so it starts there,” Taylor said.

“And the fact that we got them out with some help from the CIA then that’s where the story loses itself. I think Jimmy Carter has it about right, it was 90 per cent Canada, 10 per cent the CIA.”

Affleck said he thought he had ironed out Taylor’s differences with the film earlier. “I am surprised that Ken continues to take issue with the film,” he said in a statement.

The film touched off widespread criticism when it debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival because of the secondary role it gave to the Canadians.

“Argo” is the frontrunner to win the Best Picture Oscar after winning similar honors from the Golden Globes and Directors Guild, Producers Guild and Screen Actors Guild.

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