OTTAWA: Victims of an Iran-downed jetliner would still be alive if not for a recent escalation of tensions partly triggered by the United States, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Monday.

“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 in an interview with Global television.

He added that the international community had been “very, very clear about needing to have a non-nuclear Iran”, but also in “managing the tensions in the region that are brought about by US actions as well”.

By Ottawa’s count, 57 of the passengers were Canadian citizens, many of them dual Iranian nationals, on the Ukrainian plane that crashed in Iran last Wednesday.

Trudeau also said he would have “obviously” liked a heads-up from Washington about the drone strike on Iran’s military commander, Gen Qassem Soleimani.

Over the weekend, Trudeau called upon Iran to provide Canada with “full clarity” on the airliner’s downing.

The prime minister said he made the demand in a call with Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani, who admitted on Saturday that the airliner was mistakenly shot down by Iranian missiles.

At a televised press conference, Trudeau said he told Rouhani the admission was “an important step”, but “many more steps must be taken”.

“A full and complete investigation must be conducted,” he said. “We need full clarity on how such a horrific tragedy could have occurred.

“Iran must take full responsibility,” Trudeau said.

A Toronto law student who lost his mother in the crash echoed Justin Trudeau’s statement in an interview.

“Once you start to cope with the sorrow a little bit, then came the tragic news that it was downed by a missile, and it was almost as if she died again,” Amirali Alavi said.

The 27-year-old said “thinking how it could have been avoided, how somebody’s responsible for it” made him furious and inconsolable.

The accident was a deep blow to the Iranian community in Canada, which is home to North America’s largest Iranian diaspora. According to the last census, there were 210,000 people of Iranian origin living in Canada in 2016.

“I am, of course, outraged and furious that families across this country are grieving the loss of their loved ones, that the Iranian-Canadian community is suffering so greatly, that all Canadians are shocked and appalled at the senseless loss of life,” Trudeau said at a press conference on Saturday.

Published in Dawn, January 15th, 2020