Details about the fatal plane crash that occurred near the Tehran airport, taking the lives of all 176 people on board, continue to emerge but questions about what happens next are still up in the air.
A total of 57 Canadians died on the plane and 138 passengers on the flight were travelling to Toronto.
In a press conference on Thursday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the plane was struck down by an Iranian surface-to-air missile.
“We have intelligence from multiple sources...including our own intelligence, that the plane was shot down by an Iranian surface-to-air missile,” Trudeau said. “This may well have been unintentional.”
Armed Forces’ internal investigation has concluded that regrettably missiles fired due to human error caused the horrific crash of the Ukrainian plane & death of 176 innocent people.— Hassan Rouhani (@HassanRouhani) January 11, 2020
Investigations continue to identify & prosecute this great tragedy & unforgivable mistake. #PS752
On Saturday morning Iran acknowledged that the plane was accidentally shot down earlier this week. Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh, the head of the Guard's aerospace division, said his division accepts full responsibility for the accident, adding that he raised the possibility to his superiors because of “the simultaneous occurrence of the launch and crash was suspicious.”
Hajizadeh added that an officer made a “bad decision” to open fire after mistaking the plane for a cruise missile.
“I am of course outraged and furious...that families are grieving the loss of they loved ones…that all Canadians are shocked and appalled at this senseless loss of life,” Trudeau said at a press conference on Saturday.
“Iran must take full responsibility. Canada will not rest until we get the accountably, justice and closure that the families deserve.” Trudeau demanded a full investigation including Canadian officials including the possibility of compensation for Canadian victims.
The crash occurred just hours after Iran's missile attacks on Iraqi bases, housing U.S. troops, on Tuesday, following the killing of Iranian military leader Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani by the U.S. last week.
In a press conference on Saturday, Trudeau was asked if he, like many, places any blame on the U.S. The prime minister responded by saying that it is still early in the investigation process and he has had several calls with U.S. President Donald Trump.
“The reality is there have been significant tensions in that region for a long time and what we are calling for now is de-escalation…as well as moving forward with the peace and stability that is deserved for everyone in the region,” Trudeau said.
Shortly after Trudeau’s Thursday announcement, Yahoo asked readers to share their thoughts on the new information from the prime minister and the results found that over 70 per cent of respondents believe Iran is at the centre of the tragic crash.
What has happened since the crash?
Shortly after the plane crash occurred, a mechanical issue was named the cause of the Boeing 737-800 accident by Iranian officials.
An Iranian investigative report released Thursday indicates pilots never called for help and claimed the aircraft was trying to turn back for the airport when it crashed.
The report also states that the black boxes have been recovered but have sustained damage causing some of the memory to be lost. On Wednesday, Iran’s Civil Aviation Authority said they would not be handed over to Boeing or America.
On Friday, following press conferences from Canadian and Iranian officials the day before, the U.S. promised “appropriate action” following the missile strike.
“We do believe it is likely that that plane was shot down by an Iranian missile," U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said.
What are Canada’s next steps?
The prime minister has stressed multiple times that it is imperative that a “thorough, credible and complete investigation” is conducted.
“I want answers. That means closure, transparency, accountability and justice,” Trudeau said. “This government will not rest until we get that.”
Foreign Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne has made it clear that Canadian officials must be granted access to Iran.
“I made the case that Canada had the legitimate need to access…we wanted to bring Canada’s expertise and Canada’s commitment to be an active participant in the investigation,” Champagne said in a press conference.
The prime minister said Iran has “indicated an openness” to Canada being involved in the investigation.
“I asked that we be fully included in the investigation…that all the answers be worked on together and we be able to have our investigators involved,” Trudeau said on Saturday. “I asked to ensure consular access to Canadian officials for support...Canadian family members.”
Canada has not had a presence in Iran since 2012, when former Prime Minister Stephen Harper closed the embassy in the country, after Iran’s non-compliance with a UN Security Council resolution on its nuclear program. Since then, Italy has acted as the voice for Canada in the country.
How much influence can Canada have?
Since the plane crashed on Iranian soil, they are leading the investigation, but Canadians are wondering how likely it is that Canada will truly play an active role in investigating of the tragic event and get restitution for Canadian families, particularly when Canada doesn’t have a diplomatic presence in Iran.
Many experts have expressed that it will be difficult for Canada to get the answers we are looking for.
“If it is confirmed that the lives of at least 63 Canadians were needlessly destroyed as a consequence of decisions taken in other capitals, in a conflict to which we were not a party – what will we do about it? The answer, of course, is nothing. There is, alas, very little we can do.” - Andrew Coyne, The Globe and Mail.
“This is a really tricky spot, because there’s just really few levers that Canada can pull here that will have any kind of quick response.” - Leah West, a professor at Carleton’s Norman Paterson School of International Affairs and a former national security lawyer, to the Toronto Star.
“Canada doesn’t have any leverage. What pressure could it apply?” - Nelson Wiseman, professor of political science at the University of Toronto, to the National Post.
Canadians and others around the world have also taken to social media to share their thoughts on the tragedy, what the Canadian government should do and who should bear responsibility for the crash.
@JustinTrudeau knows he must lay blame @realDonaldTrump feet. Trump is wholly responsible for all of this happening. The USA must be held accountable for their actions. #ukraineplanecrash #Boeing737 #cdnpoli #IranVSAmerica— JamarTheGay🌈 (@JamarTheGay) January 10, 2020
The #IranPlaneCrash shows us:— Kevin Whyte (@kevinwhyte87) January 10, 2020
- The strength of the Canadian immigration system as we lost doctors, professors, grad and PH.D students, among others that built up Canada
- The importance of int'l partnerships. We're relying on Italy & Ukraine for diplomacy with #Iran right now.