November 14, 2015 - 4:30 PM
MONTREAL - Some Canadian political leaders were calling for vigorous action against terrorism including continued involvement in military action against Islamic State militants in the wake of Friday's terrorist attacks in Paris that killed at least 129 people.
Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard said the world was facing a crisis in the wake of acts that "defy imagination" and he warned the democratic world was facing a mortal enemy that "threatens us too, even if we're some distance from Paris."
Couillard, who approved of the former Conservative government's decision to undertake airstrikes in the Middle East in October 2014, called for a strong multilateral response to the crisis when he spoke to reporters in Quebec City Saturday morning.
When asked directly if he supported a renewed military combat mission, he said it would depend on what the international community asked, although his personal support for military action hadn't changed.
Saskatchewan's premier voiced similar sentiments in a statement where he indicated that all flags at the province's legislature would be flown at half-mast.
"Yesterday's attack was a deadly reminder that there are people in the world who do not share our values and who will stop at nothing in their attempts to impose their twisted, evil ideology through violence, destruction and death," Brad Wall said in the statement.
"They must be defeated. There truly is no other option," said Wall who also indicated he supports Canada continuing to take part in air strikes against militant members of the Islamic State and the Levant.
B.C. Premier Christy Clark released a statement saying she is shocked and sickened by the news from Paris.
"All Canadians and British Columbians stand with them, both in grief for those who were killed, but also in resolve," Clark said. "Those who commit such acts of violence want to change us, and our shared values. They will fail."
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has indicated he intends to end the combat mission against ISIL and would not say Friday night if the attacks in France would prompt his government to reconsider its position. Canada has contributed fighter jets and is involved in training Iraqi forces to fight the militants.
Trudeau's office said Saturday the Prime Minister was briefed by the RCMP and Canadian Security Intelligence Service officials on the Paris attacks. Trudeau did not speak publicly on the matter, but a senior official in his office, who briefed reporters Saturday night, said that Canada would stick to its plan to end the air mission and refocus its efforts on training ground troops.
Conservative MP Jason Kenney questioned whether Canada would have any credibility if it withdraws from the combat mission.
"We will show "absolute resolve" by being the only country to withdraw from air strikes against the perpetrators?" Kenney questioned on Twitter.
ISIL claimed responsibility for the attacks.
A spokesman for the French Embassy in Ottawa said Saturday morning that police patrols had been increased following the attack.
A spokesman for the Department of Foreign Affairs said that as of Saturday morning there were no reports of Canadians killed or injured in the series of co-ordinated attacks.
Charlottetown resident Josh Coles was at a Paris soccer stadium watching a friendly match between France and Germany Friday when he heard a “couple of large explosions.”
He said that because loud noises are common during games he didn’t make much of it.
It was only when he and his friend went to leave and saw a rush of people running back towards them that they realized something serious had occurred.
“All of the sudden, as though someone had flipped a switch, people started sprinting back to the stadium.”
Coles, who made it safely back to a friend’s house, described it as “a surreal experience for the whole city.”
A vigil to remember the dead from Friday's attacks was held in Toronto on Saturday and similar events were planned for Montreal and Vancouver for later in the day.
Sophia Namvarazad, who was one of the hundreds that attended the Toronto vigil, said she has family in Paris. While they're all safe, she still mourns for those who have lost their lives.
French citizen Jordy Pinel was attending the Montreal rally in honour of his school friend Melodie, who died in Friday night’s attack at a Paris concert hall. Pinel said he learned of the death from another friend, who was able to escape.
“I’m just shattered,” said Pinel, who has lived in Canada for four years. “I feel we aren’t safe anywhere anymore.”
With files from Nicole Thompson in Toronto.
News from © The Canadian Press, 2015