Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Monday subtly suggested that President Trump and the U.S. bear some blame for the Ukrainian passenger plane that Iran said it mistakenly shot down, killing all 176 people on board, including 57 Canadians.
“I think if there were no tensions, if there was no escalation recently in the region, those Canadians would be right now home with their families,” Trudeau said during an interview with Canada’s Global News Television posted Monday.
Some Canadians, including a leading corporate leader in Canada, have in part blamed Trump for the deaths. But Trudeau has been careful not to outright blame the U.S. president.
Iran initially blamed the Jan. 8 plane crash on a technical failure and denied that its armed forces were responsible. Amid mounting evidence to the contrary and accusations by Western leaders, Iran admitted to accidentally shooting down the plane.
Iran downed the flight as it braced for possible American retaliation after firing ballistic missiles at two bases in Iraq where U.S. and coalition personnel are stationed. The attack, which caused no American casualties, was a response to President Trump’s authorization of an airstrike that killed Gen. Qassem Soleimani, Iran’s top military general, on Jan. 3.
Trudeau said he would have liked a warning beforehand, given that Canada has troops in Iraq as part of a NATO training mission. He said that he has spoken with Trump on the matter.
“I’ve talked about the tremendous grief and loss that Canadians are feeling and the need for clear answers on how this happened and how we’re going to make sure it never happens again,” Trudeau said, adding that there is anger among Canadians directed at Iran.
“The grief they’re going through is not to be consoled right now. They want answers, they’ve expressed anger and outrage and also immeasurable pain,” he said. “There is a demand for justice. And that is entirely, entirely to be expected and should be heeded very carefully by the Iranian government.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.