Justin Trudeau has demanded that Canada should have a significant role in the investigation into the crash of a Ukraine International Airlines Boeing 737-800 NG near Tehran yesterday. The Canadian Prime Minister insisted that he could not rule out the possibility that the plane was shot down.
Of the 176 people who died in the crash just after take-off en route to Kiev, 63 were Canadian citizens. A joint investigation has been launched by Iran and Ukraine, but Tehran has refused to hand over the black box flight recorders from the aircraft to the American manufacturer or US investigators.
While the crash is the worst loss of life in an airline disaster to hit Canada since the terrorist bombing of an Air India plane in 1985 — which killed 328 people, including 268 Canadians — Trudeau did not cite that as his reason for wanting Canada to take a more prominent role. His country has a “high degree of expertise when it comes to these sorts of accidents,” he explained. According to the Financial Times, when asked by reporters if he could rule out the possibility that the plane was shot down, he replied that “it is too early to speculate.”
The Prime Minister conveyed the growing suspicion that the plane crash was not simply an accident. The timing of the crash occurred as Iran launched missile strikes against US air bases in Iraq in retaliation for the killing of Revolutionary Guard commander Qassem Soleimani, which has prompted speculation about misconduct and terrorism.
It’s not clear how Trudeau will be able to talk his way into getting Canada a prominent role in the investigation, as Ottawa does not have diplomatic relations with Iran. Ties were severed in 2012 when the former right-wing government closed its embassy in Tehran and expelled Iranian diplomats from Canada, citing what it claimed was Iran’s support for terrorism.
Although Trudeau expressed his intention to normalise ties with the Islamic Republic when he was first elected in 2015, he has failed to do so.