OTTAWA — Justin Trudeau is scheduled to attend a vigil in Edmonton today to pay his respects and mourn the loss of the victims of the Ukrainian jetliner crash in Iran.
The prime minister will also be speaking at this afternoon’s memorial service at the Saville Community Sports Centre.
There were 57 Canadians among the 176 people killed in last Wednesday’s tragedy, including 13 from the Edmonton area.
Another vigil to honour the victims will be held later this morning at the University of Toronto’s Convocation Hall.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has acknowledged that an Iranian missile shot down Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 minutes after it took off from Tehran’s airport. Iran’s military said the plane was mistaken for a hostile target.
Trudeau told a news conference in Ottawa Saturday he was “outraged and furious” that so many Canadians are grieving because of Iran’s actions, and that Iran must take “full responsibility” for the “horrific” incident.
“This is a tragedy that should not have happened,” he said, and he called for an immediate effort to de-escalate the regional tensions that he says contributed to the “great loss of innocent life.”
In addition to the 57 Canadian citizens on the plane, dozens more were bound for Canada, many of them students and professors returning after spending the December break visiting relatives in Iran.
Rouhani spoke with Trudeau by phone Saturday after posting on Twitter that investigations would continue to “identify and prosecute this great tragedy and unforgivable mistake.”
Trudeau said he told Rouhani he expected Canada to be fully involved in the investigation including gaining access to the airplane’s black boxes, and being allowed to participate in DNA identification of the victims. He also demanded consular access for Canadian officials to work with grieving families of Canadian victims in Iran.
Three officials from Global Affairs Canada landed in Tehran Saturday to set up the first Canadian consular presence on the ground since the crash happened. Seven more diplomats and two investigators from the Transportation Safety Board were also waiting for visas to travel to Iran to help.
Canada severed diplomatic ties with Iran in September 2012, closing its embassy and recalling all diplomats. With no diplomatic presence, Italy and Turkey have been aiding Canadians in Tehran.
The Canadian Press