Friday, January 6, 2012

Canada Defence Minister Marries Nazanin Afshin-Jam In Mexico

Defence Minister Peter MacKay quietly married his girlfriend Nazanin Afshin-Jam at a private, civil ceremony in Mexico on Wednesday, while Heritage Minister James Moore and girlfriend Courtney Payne tied the knot on Dec. 29.

MacKay, whose love life has been the subject of often breathless media attention, released a statement on his constituency website announcing the nuptials, which took place in front of family and friends.

"Since coming into my life many of you have met Nazanin on her many visits to Nova Scotia. She is the most important person in my life and over the coming months, Nazanin and I look forward to spending more time at home in Central Nova and sharing our happiness with all of you," said MacKay.

The website crashed late Wednesday, presumably from the amount of traffic.

Friends say MacKay popped the question last summer.

Separately, a spokesman for Moore, James Maunder, confirmed his boss also got hitched over the holidays, but declined to comment — or give any details, saying it was a private matter for the minister and his new wife to address.

In contrast to MacKay's resort nuptuals, Moore's wedding took place in snowy Ottawa.

Payne is a communications staffer in Prime Minister Stephen Harper's office.

MacKay's new wife holds degrees in international relations and political science.

Afshin-Jam, 32, is also a human rights activist and president of Stop Child Executions, which tries to draw attention to the young people who are on death row in Iran.

She garnered wide attention and acclaim in 2003 for her successful campaign to stop the killing of Nazanin Mahabad Fatehi, an Iranian teenager who was sentenced to death by stoning for killing one of three men who were trying to rape her and her niece.

The plea received a lot of attention because Afshin-Jam had just been crowned Miss World Canada at the time. She was subsequently named the first runner up in the Miss World contest.

The couple was first spotted in public together last year, although they reportedly met seven years ago when Afshin-Jam was in Ottawa to speak about human rights abuses.

The new bride was born in Iran, but fled Tehran with her family following the 1979 Islamic revolution and immigrated to North Vancouver, B.C.

The wedding was a closely held secret, although both MacKay's parents, former Tory cabinet minister Elmer MacKay, and his mother, Macha MacKay, are reported to have attended the ceremony.

The news first filtered out over the social networking site Twitter when Conservative MP Laurie Hawn congratulated the couple and sent best wishes for a long life together.

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