Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is facing frustration from his countrymen after he had been chatting, shaking hands, and also bowing to Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif after the rogue country took down a commercial airplane with 57 Canadians aboard.
Iran reportedly took down the plane in January, after releasing several missiles at Iraqi military bases housing American, an attempt taken in to respond to the United States’ assassination of Iranian general Qassem Soleimani who, the White House stated at the time, has been in Iran looking to foment anti-American sentiment and set up anti-American militia operations.
Iran initially denied downing the airliner, but after the United States and international intelligence organizations pinned the crash on a pair of surface-to-air missiles registered from inside Iran, the country finally issued a statement taking responsibility and also blaming “human error” for the “unforgivable mistake” that killed more than 150 passengers and flight crew, per The Guardian.
There are 57 Canadians aboard the Ukrainian Airlines plane, going to Kyiv, Ukraine, in which they planned to catch a connecting trip to Toronto, according to the BBC.
“The plane was bound for the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, and many onboard had a connecting trip to Toronto, Canada’s biggest city and a transit hub,” the British outlet reported, identifying why many Canadians were killed in the assault. “Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said that, all told, 138 people on that flight were en route to Canada.”
“There is also no direct flight between Canada and Iran, and the Ukraine International Airlines flight from Tehran to Kyiv and then to Toronto is popular because it is one of the most affordable options for the journey,” the BBC added.
At the moment of the attack, Trudeau insisted that he would demand “closure, accountability, transparency and justice” from the Iranians. But last week, at a conference in Munich, Germany, Trudeau looked oddly comfortable with the Iranian delegation, according to the GlobalNews.ca.
“Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is facing criticism over new photographs showing him shaking hands with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif,” the outlet described. “The meeting on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference on Friday quickly sparked criticism online given that Iran shot down a passenger plane last month near Tehran, killing all 176 on board, including 57 Canadians. Since then, it has refused to hand over the black boxes recovered from the crash site.”
Trudeau, who has fallen under criticism for declining to address American president Donald Trump with due respect, defended his harmonious communication with the Iranians when questioned concerning this by reporters, even as Iranian state tv reportedly performed the handshake off as a sign of forgiveness.
“I made a promise to families in Canada to do everything I could to make sure that they get answers, that we have a complete investigation, that we understand exactly what happened,” Trudeau advised the reporters. “I went by to impress upon the foreign minister of Iran how important it is that we work together.”
Not everybody was impressed with Trudeau’s gesture.
“Not a good look to see PM Trudeau with smiling FM Zarif of Iran after Canadians killed at the hands of Iranian incompetence and malice on Ukrainian plane- not to mention the innocent Iranian protestors‘ killed,” one expert on Iranian-Canadian relations tweeted.
Others, like a senior fellow with the Macdonald-Laurier Institute in Canada, suggested Trudeau needs to have better considered the effects of being filmed palling around with Iranian officials.
“Look, I get that leaders sometimes have to shake hands with unsavory people,” he tweeted. “But Iran just killed 63 Canadians. Maybe the PM could’ve avoided this particular photo op. Maybe a UNSC seat isn’t worth a firesale of every last thing Canadians hold dear.”
And, GlobalNews.ca reports, families of the plane crash victims are “furious.”
The Canadian delegation tried to wave off the controversy, suggesting that Trudeau was forceful in private meetings, demanding that Iran switch over the flight’s black boxes to international authorities. Still, they offered no evidence of Trudeau’s position.
Oddly enough, Trudeau did possess some harsh words for at least one party he holds responsible for the aircraft being taken down: Trump. Back in January, the Canadian Prime Minister pinned the incident squarely on the president’s shoulders, Business Insider reported at the time.
“If there were no tensions, if there were no escalation recently in the region, those Canadians would be right now home with their families,” he said.