Woman accused of stalking McGuinty says she was being friendly

Police have charged a woman who sent hundreds of e-mails to Premier Dalton McGuinty with conveying a death threat to a member of his staff — but she contends it’s all a huge cultural misunderstanding

Neelam Vir is also prohibited from contacting McGuinty, his family, staff or any other federal, provincial or municipal politician and barred from Queen’s Park.


"I never meant to harm anyone," says a tearful Vir, 40. "My Canadian dream is shattered. I just want to go back to India."

The charge follows an incident on Sept. 30, when Vir sent a packet of mix for making gulab jamun, an Indian sweet, to McGuinty to express her "love and affection," dropping it off to staff member Monica Masciantonio.

The same night, she e-mailed McGuinty, asking whether Masciontonio had given him the mix.

"I said, ‘If she didn’t give it to you, I’ll kill her.’ It’s just slang," Vir said. "I use this term all the time with my husband and my kids. In Hindi, it’s, ‘Mein tumarhi jaan nikal dungi.’"

Vir received no reply, but on Nov. 20, after the election, half a dozen police officers showed up at her door. They confiscated her laptop, cellphone, camera and papers, and hauled her to jail, where she spent a frantic six hours until her husband bailed her out.

Vir’s remark has been taken out of context, said Sunder Singh of the Elspeth Heyworth Centre for Women.

"It’s just a friendly comment … It’s not meant to be taken seriously … Is this a way to welcome someone to this country?"

McGuinty, who is also an Ottawa MPP, was not available for comment yesterday.

making a bad situation worse

  • After the original arrest and in breach of the conditions of her release, Vir sent McGuinty another e-mail, apologizing. A few days later, police rearrested her for the breach. This time, the court ordered her to see a psychiatrist, pending a hearing.

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