Prime Minister Justin Trudeau drew parallels between Bastille Day and Canada Day in offering his condolences and sympathies to the victims and survivors of the terrorist attack in Nice late Thursday. “The victims are families that were celebrating their national holiday, like many of us did two weeks ago today.…They are the ones who were targeted. They are the ones who were attacked,” Trudeau said in French during a Calgary press conference.
“And it is with great determination that we extend to the government of France all possible assistance. We will work with our allies to combat terrorism in all possible forms and to bring those responsible to justice,” he added.
Trudeau went on to say that almost every nation around the world right now is preoccupied with terrorism and that Canada would work with its allies to continue the fight.
NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair, who has family in France, including his wife Catherine Pinhas who is there on holiday, said his first thoughts were for his family and friends but once he learned they were all OK, his concern shifted to those caught up in the attacks.
Mulcair said the attacks were an “unbelievable situation” in which an annual holiday commemorating the storming of the Bastille — an event that marks the beginning of French democracy — was seen by terrorists as an opportunity for mass killing.
“I don’t think there is anyplace in the world right now where you can be completely safe from this,” he said. “I think that people have to be able to just get on with their lives and have confidence as I do in Canada’s system to take care of us.”
Mulcair said no one country can defeat ISIS-inspired terrorists and that in order to combat the scourge the whole world needs to come together and craft a global solution.
Canada’s terror threat still at medium
At least 84 people were killed when a truck full of weapons plowed into a crowd of Bastille Day revellers in Nice late Thursday. Of the 202 injured, 25 were on life support, French authorities said.
There were no initial reports of Canadian casualties and Lawrence Cannon, Canada’s ambassador to France, tweeted that there were no reports of Canadian victims.
Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said the federal government has no information stemming from the attack that would necessitate a change in Canada’s terror threat level, which is currently at medium.
Still, Goodale urged Canadians to stay vigilant and alert.
“Canadians can rest assured that when the security and intelligence sector receives credible warnings on a specific threat, they work with the appropriate government partners to ensure the safety of Canadians,” he said in a statement to the Canadian Press.
Goodale noted that while in Paris in January, he signed a declaration with his French counterpart, Bernard Cazeneuve, to work together on terrorism, organized crime and irregular migration.
The Quebec premier, meantime, called the truck attack “insane” and said it highlights the unpredictability of terrorist-related incidents.
“Unfortunately, nobody is safe from this insane kind of act,” Philippe Couillard told the Canadian Press while on a trade mission in Munich.
“Let’s hope there are no more. You can’t totally protect yourself, and our security forces must be vigilant in order to detect radicalization and planned acts ahead of time as much as possible. But when you’re dealing with an act perpetrated by one person alone, it’s difficult to prevent.”
Canadians caught up in Attack
All 85 Grade 9 to 12 students from a Nanaimo, B.C. school who were just metres from the site of the terrorist attack are safe. The students are on a two-week visit to France and Spain and are considering an early return home.
Edmonton’s MacEwan University said that five students and one faculty member were also in the French resort city of Nice participating in a program at the European Innovation Academy, but one of those students is missing.
“We are very concerned and are currently working with the government of Canada to get further details on his status,” the school said in a statement to the Canadian Press.
French police have identified the attacker as Mohamed Bouhlel, a 31-year-old Tunisian who lived in Nice.