The liberal leader already had greeted 2020 with a new look: a salt-and-pepper beard that sparked a public buzz.
“The families want answers,” he said Thursday as he revealed to the world that Iran may have inadvertently shot down the airliner, killing everyone on board. “I want answers, closure, transparency, accountability and justice … This government will not rest until we get that.”
“Even if it’s Iran, the blame is on USA. If President Trump hadn’t ordered the drone strike on Soleimani, all this wouldn’t happen, we wouldn’t be here today grieving,” Ardy Gharagozli told CNN before Iran had acknowledged downing the plan. As he spoke, Gharagozli clutched a photograph of family friends who died on Flight 752.
But those expecting rage and fury from this Prime Minister might be disappointed.
Trudeau did not lash out this week at the Trump administration, nor did he take an especially tough stand with Iran, stopping short of calling the tragedy an act of war.
“What Iran has admitted to is very serious. Shooting down a civilian aircraft is horrific. Iran must take full responsibility,” Trudeau said during a Saturday news conference in Ottawa. “Canada will not rest until we get the accountability, justice and closure that the families deserve.”
That must include discussion of bringing home Canadian victims’ remains, financially compensating their families and nailing down how Iranian systems at-large allowed such a tragic accident to unfold, said Trudeau, noting he’d spoken directly with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani since Iran admitted downing the jet.
The Prime Minister, however, sidestepped questions about Canadian sanctions against Iran and any repercussions for its three-day lag in coming clean about the crash.
“I’m furious that there are Canadian families that have lost their parents, their children, their spouses. It’s a huge tragedy for the entire country, not just for the Iranian community,” Trudeau said.
“For many of those families, that has all been struck down out of the blue by a regime that they had fled in the past, that they believed they had gotten away from,” he said. “This is an incident that is truly horrible, and I am angry, I am disappointed, but I am firmly committed to getting answers and compensation and help and justice for the victims.”
Navigating politics in the US, Iraq and at home
Asked Saturday about Iran’s mention of US tensions contributing to the environment in which it shot down the airliner, Trudeau demurred.
“I’ve had a number of conversations with the US President recently and will continue to,” he said. “The reality is there have been significant tensions in that region for a long time … and what we are calling for now is a deescalation.”
Following the crash, the Canadian government considered the crisis an “all hands on deck right now” situation, with various agencies at work to respond, a Canadian government official told CNN. Trudeau also reached out to a variety of allies for help, the official said Friday.
“Frankly, we’re working very closely with the Trump administration,” the official said. “They offered their help. (Foreign) Minister (Francois-Philippe) Champagne just spoke with (US) Secretary (of State Mike) Pompeo.”
Trudeau met face-to-face Friday with families of the victims. He has pledged to keep them informed. But many victims’ relatives and friends who spoke to CNN said Trudeau should do more to press both Iran and the United States on the crash investigation.
“How are they going to respond to the parents of the children of the loss of their sons, daughters, husbands, wives. This is so surreal,” said Rosie, a family friend of a victim who attended a vigil Thursday in Toronto. She asked CNN not to use her last name.
The Canadian government has been waiting for Iran to issue visas so several of its officials waiting in Ankara, Turkey, can access to the crash site, Trudeau said Saturday. Iran’s cooperation on this score will be among the “tangible examples” its leaders can offer to show their commitment to “real cooperation and real openness” in the investigation, he said.
How Trudeau proceeds will impact not only his standing in global affairs but also how he is received at home, where the consequences of the airliner catastrophe is sure to consume victims’ loved ones — and his government’s attention — for months and years to come.
“The Prime Minister is heartbroken, of course, but he’s also focused,” the Canadian government official said. “The Prime Minister knows and recognizes that it is his job to do all this and that the families are counting on him.”
CNN’s Elizabeth Joseph contributed to this report.