Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland vowed to “get justice” while speaking to about 1,700 mourners at a Toronto vigil for the victims of the Iranian passenger jet disaster.
Premier Doug Ford and Mayor John Tory were also among those who turned up at the University of Toronto’s Convocation Hall on Sunday for the emotional 2 1/2-hour vigil.
Some of the 176 killed when Iran shot down the Ukrainian passenger jet attended U of T. Iran has said it shot down the plane accidentally with a missile.
“This is this university’s loss. This is Toronto’s loss. This is Ontario’s loss. And this is Canada’s loss,” said Freeland. “We mourn together and we will seek answers together. We seek accountability together. And we will seek and we will get justice together.”
Men, women and children wept uncontrollably at the gathering. The loudest applause — and a standing ovation — was reserved for Conservative MPP Michael Parsa who said he knew several of the victims.
“I’m shocked,” said Parsa, whose voice was cracking with emotion.
“I’m grieving for the loss of my friends and I’m upset at the circumstances under which their lives were taken,” he added. “Now that the Iranian regime has admitted fault for this heartbreaking disaster, we must make sure that we do everything in our power to ensure that the regime is held to account for what they had done.”
The vigil, which also featured musical performances, got off to a bit of a rocky start when an anti-Iran government protestor climbed on the candle-laden stage and began shouting in Farsi. Those gathered just started applauding loudly in an attempt to drown her out before she was eventually led away by security.
One thing became clear as two women read the names and ages of all 53 Iranian-Canadians killed and their pictures were shown on a large screen: The victims were accomplished citizens who included doctors, dentists, professors, researchers, grad students, students, scientists, and architects.
“My heart is broken thinking of the victims of this absolute terrible, terrible tragedy and the suffering of all the loved ones,” said Ford.
“I know the Iranian community is in pain right now but I want you to know that you are not alone,” added the premier. “The people of this province stand behind you. The nation and the world mourns with you. And I know, standing shoulder to shoulder with our federal government, we will bring these people to justice.”
Tory said he stands behind Canada’s demand for answers to questions about what happened to the doomed jet.