Solidarity and security concerns follow Paris attacks
MONTREAL – Some Canadian political leaders were calling for vigorous action against terrorism including continued involvement in military action against Islamic State militants in the wake of Friday’s terrorist attacks in Paris that killed at least 129 people.
The terrorist attack in France should prompt Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to rethink his government’s plan to withdraw from taking part in coalition air strikes against ISIL, Opposition leader Rona Ambrose said Saturday.
“The signal that it sends to abandon that role at this time is not prudent,” the interim Conservative leader said in a news conference in Ottawa.
“It doesn’t show our resolute support for our allies at a time when we need to stand shoulder to shoulder with them.”
Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard said the world faces a crisis in the wake of acts that “defy imagination” and he warned the democratic world was facing a mortal enemy that “threatens us too, even if we’re some distance from Paris.”
Couillard told reporters in Quebec City Saturday that Canada’s participation in the combat mission would depend on what the international community asked, although his personal support for military action hadn’t changed.
Saskatchewan’s premier voiced similar sentiments in a statement where he indicated that all flags at the province’s legislature would be flown at half-mast.
“Yesterday’s attack was a deadly reminder that there are people in the world who do not share our values and who will stop at nothing in their attempts to impose their twisted, evil ideology through violence, destruction and death,” Brad Wall said in the statement.
“They must be defeated. There truly is no other option,” said Wall who also indicated he supports Canada continuing to take part in air strikes against militant members of the Islamic State and the Levant.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has indicated he intends to end the combat mission against ISIL. Canada has contributed fighter jets and is involved in training Iraqi forces to fight the militants.
Trudeau’s office said Saturday the Prime Minister was briefed by the RCMP and Canadian Security Intelligence Service officials on the Paris attacks. Trudeau did not speak publicly on the matter Saturday, but a senior official in his office who briefed reporters said Canada would stick to its plan to end the air mission and refocus its efforts on training ground troops.
ISIL claimed responsibility for the Paris attacks.
A spokesman for the French Embassy in Ottawa said Saturday morning that police patrols had been increased following the attack.
A spokesman for the Department of Foreign Affairs said that as of Saturday morning there were no reports of Canadians killed or injured in the series of co-ordinated attacks.
Charlottetown resident Josh Coles was at a Paris soccer stadium watching a friendly match between France and Germany Friday when he heard a “couple of large explosions.”
He said that because loud noises are common during games he didn’t make much of it.
It was only when he and his friend went to leave and saw a rush of people running back towards them that they realized something serious had occurred.
“All of the sudden, as though someone had flipped a switch, people started sprinting back to the stadium.”
Coles, who made it safely back to a friend’s house, described it as “a surreal experience for the whole city.”
Hundreds attended vigils in Montreal and Toronto to remember the dead from Friday’s attacks.
Sophia Namvarazad, who was one of the hundreds that attended the Toronto vigil, said she has family in Paris. While they’re all safe, she still mourns for those who have lost their lives.
French citizen Jordy Pinel was attending the Montreal rally in honour of his school friend Melodie, who died in Friday night’s attack at a Paris concert hall. Pinel said he learned of the death from another friend, who was able to escape.
“I’m just shattered,” said Pinel, who has lived in Canada for four years. “I feel we aren’t safe anywhere anymore.”
With files from Nicole Thompson in Toronto.
By Morgan Lowrie, The Canadian Press