London assault that killed four Muslim family members a 'terrorist attack': Trudeau

·3 min read

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the attack in London, Ont., that killed four members of a Muslim family and left one child in hospital was an act of terrorism.

After observing a moment of silence for the victims, Trudeau spoke in the House of Commons and called the assault "a terrorist attack, motivated by hatred."

“Their lives were taken in a brutal cowardly and brazen act of violence,” Trudeau said. “This killing was no accident. This was a terrorist attack, motivated by hatred in the heart of one of our communities.”

Police said a man intentionally drove a truck into the family out for a walk on Sunday evening, and that he targeted them because of their faith.

Nathaniel Veltman, 20, faces four counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder.

Trudeau said he's horrified by the attack and that his government stands in solidarity with the victims' loved ones during this extremely difficult time.

“This is unfortunately not an isolated event,” Trudeau said. “So many other people across the country who faced insults, threats and violence. They were all targeted because of their Muslim faith. This is happening here in Canada and it has to stop.”

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole said he grieves with Muslim community members in London and across the country because this is a pain they have known before.

The latest statistics show that in 2017, the year of the Quebec City mosque shooting when a gunman killed six people, the incidents of police-reported hate crimes against Muslims in Canada rose to 349 cases — a 151-percent increase from the 139 cases recorded in 2016.

However, Statistics Canada says about two-thirds of hate crimes across the country go unreported.

“Some people have said this is not our Canada, and I think about what that means when people say this is not our Canada,” said NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh. “The reality is our Canada is a place of racism, of violence, of genocide of Indigenous people … Muslims are not safe in this country.”

Singh said many people live in fear because of the way they look. He said most of the hatred stems from prejudice based on identity and faith.

“To Muslim Canadians, I’m so sorry that you have to live like this,” he said. “That you have to live in fear.”

Singh said Canada must acknowledge that the urgent threat to public safety comes from extreme right-wing ideology, white supremacy and hate groups that radicalize people, adding there must be resources to address these dangers.

Trudeau said the government will continue to fund initiatives like the Security Infrastructure Program to protect schools and places of worship of communities at risk. He added the Liberals will also continue to fight hate online and offline, which will include more action to dismantle hate groups.

“We will continue doing everything we can to keep communities safe.”

Trudeau is scheduled to be at a vigil outside the London Muslim Mosque this evening. Singh is also expected to attend.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 8, 2021.

Arvin Joaquin, The Canadian Press