'I want answers': Trudeau says Ukraine International Airlines plane was shot down by an Iranian surface-to-air missile

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau holds a news conference in Ottawa on Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2020. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press via AP)

On Thursday afternoon, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Ukraine International Airlines flight PS752 was struck down by an Iranian surface-to-air missile on Wednesday.

“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.”

Foreign Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne reiterated the prime minister’s statement later in the day.

“The preliminary conclusions we have been able to draw, based on intelligence and evidence, are clear enough for me to share them with Canadians,” the prime minister added in his address.

Trudeau’s message follows statements from two U.S. officials that it is “highly likely” an Iranian anti-aircraft missile took down Ukraine International Airlines flight PS752, with Trump suggesting that Iran was responsible, without directly blaming the country, but adding that the plane was flying through a “pretty rough neighbourhood.”

“Somebody could have made a mistake on the other side," the U.S. president said. “Some people say it was mechanical...I personally don't think that's even a question."

When asked directly if he believes the U.S. is responsible for this tragic event, Trudeau said it is “too soon to be assigning blame or responsibility.”

The prime minister stressed multiple times during the press conference that is it imperative that a “thorough, credible and complete investigation” is conducted, going on to say that the information the government has “suggests very clearly a possible and probable cause for the crash but it is all the more necessary therefore to gather all the information.”

“I want answers. That mean closure, transparency, accountability and justice,” Trudeau said. “This government will not rest until we get that.”

Foreign Affairs Minister 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, but the degree of that involvement is being “worked out.”

“We have consular officials who are en route to Ankara, Turkey and Iran is open to issuing visas so that consular assistance can be given on the ground,” Trudeau said.

The foreign affairs minister described his conversation with Iran as “open” and “encouraging,” adding that he has received information that the discussion from Wednesday night was followed up on, regarding to the issuing of visas.

A total of 63 Canadians died on the plane, with 138 passengers bound for Toronto on the flight.

The crash occurred merely 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.

An Iranian investigative report released Thursday indicates that 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, but Garneau said Canada is prepared to with black box data interpretation.