Ken Taylor remembered by politicians, journalists

by | Oct 16, 2015 | News

Marino Greco

Taylor with actress Semikina at the 2015 Screen Awards in Toronto. Reuters/Mark Blinch

Ken Taylor with actress Elena Semikina at the 2015 Screen Awards in Toronto. (Reuters/Mark Blinch)

Politicians and journalists are remembering former Canadian ambassador to Iran Ken Taylor for rescuing six Americans in 1979.

Taylor died Thursday only a few months after being diagnosed with colon cancer.

The 81-year-old diplomat was called a hero after he covertly sheltered the American diplomats during the Iran hostage crisis and orchestrated their escape in what became known as “The Canadian Caper”.

Taylor was respected by politicians worldwide.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry took to Twitter and praised Taylor’s courage.

But for many Canadians born after the crisis Taylor’s name may be unfamiliar.

Or, at least, relegated to a part in Ben Affleck’s 2012 adaptation of the caper, Argo.

That movie won an Oscar for best feature but director Ben Affleck received criticism for downplaying Taylor’s role.

Affleck would later change to postscript of the film to correct that.


An Iranian protester in Washington D.C. (Marion S. Trikosko/Wikimedia Commons)

A group of Iranian students stormed the U.S. embassy in late 1979 and took control of the American embassy.

Six Americans, however, eluded capture and found refuge in the Swedish embassy.

Taylor took the task of splitting the hostages up and storing them for a tension filled year before a daring escape that involved a fake movie company and help from the CIA.

Argo Final

A fake poster for a fake movie. The hostages were passed off as a film crew in a ruse designed to ‘exfiltrate’ them. (CIA/Wikimedia Commons)

The government of Canada has a detailed profile about the caper, and it reads like a spy novel.

Taylor spent his later life as an educator, frequently talking about his experiences during the crisis.

Federal party leaders praised Taylor on Twitter, including Prime Minister Harper, who released a statement on his death.

Journalists also expressed their condolences on social media.

Some even took the opportunity to rib Ben Affleck.

Funeral arrangements for Taylor have not been announced.