The Conservative defence critic says he doesn’t want the Iranian government to block access to investigators from Canada or any other countries that lost people in Wednesday’s plane crash near Tehran.
“I would encourage the Iranian regime to co-operate with the international investigation, and in particular allow Canada, Ukraine and the other nations who lost citizens on that flight to be involved in that investigation, regardless of the regional tensions right now and the politics surrounding the recent attacks,” Tory MP James Bezan said in an interview.
The Ukraine International Airlines Boeing 737-800, bound for Kyiv, crashed shortly after taking off from the Iranian capital, killing all 176 people on board. Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Vadym Prystaiko said the plane was carrying 63 Canadians, 82 Iranians, 11 Ukrainian passengers and crew, 10 Swedes, four Afghans, three Germans and three Britons.
The crash occurred just hours after Iran launched missile attacks on bases in Iraq where American troops are stationed. Iran said the attacks were retaliation for the American killing of its top Iranian general near Baghdad last week.
The Iranian military disputed any suggestion the plane had been hit by a missile, and Iranian aviation authorities said they suspected a mechanical problem brought down the 3 1/2-year-old Boeing 737. Ukrainian authorities initially said it appeared mechanical failure was to blame, but later walked that back, saying nothing had been ruled out.
“Iran’s retaliation last night was a needless attack. But regardless, this (crash) is a human tragedy that goes beyond anything that we were expecting in the fallout from the last few days,” said Bezan.
“Families deserve to get a full report on exactly what happened,” he added. “I don’t think we can speculate on the cause of the crash, but answers have to be forthcoming. I’m sure families would be devastated if Iran blocked access of international investigators from helping out with the full investigation into what caused the crash.”
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said on Twitter: “These families deserve clear answers, but whatever the cause, this is devastating.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canada will work with its international partners to thoroughly investigate the cause of the plane crash.
Foreign Affairs Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne and Transport Minister Marc Garneau are reaching out to their international counterparts, he said.
“Our government will continue to work closely with its international partners to ensure that this crash is thoroughly investigated, and that Canadians’ questions are answered,” Trudeau said in a statement.
“Today, I assure all Canadians that their safety and security is our top priority. We also join with the other countries who are mourning the loss of citizens.”
Champagne described the situation as “extremely fluid.”
“I have been in touch with my Ukrainian counterpart, and will continue to speak to all relevant authorities. The Government of Canada is committed to working closely with international partners regarding any possible investigation,” the minister said in a statement.
Garneau said on Twitter that Canada would offer technical assistance in the crash investigation.
“The United States calls for complete co-operation with any investigation into the cause of the crash,” U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement.
Trudeau also offered condolences to the loved ones of those who died.
“This morning, I join Canadians across the country who are shocked and saddened to see reports that a plane crash outside of Tehran, Iran, has claimed the lives of 176 people, including 63 Canadians,” said Trudeau.
“We also join with the other countries who are mourning the loss of citizens.”
Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer also offered his condolences on Twitter, calling it a “horrific tragedy.”
“Today is a sad day four our country,” Scheer wrote.
Richard Mills, the acting U.S. ambassador to Canada, also offered his condolences to Canadians.
“We join the global community in mourning the loss of all those killed in this tragic incident,” he said in a statement.
— with files from the Associated Press
Mike Blanchfield, The Canadian Press