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Thank you, Amir. Thank you to everyone here today. Thank you Hamed for sharing your words, and your strength, your concern and your passion, and speaking so strongly for the families. Thanks everyone for being here today.
I’m happy to be joined with some strong voices who’ve been by your sides and connecting with you for the past two years, whether it’s Ralph Goodale, our special representative. Whether it’s Ministers Joly, Alghabra, and Fraser. Whether it’s MPs like Ali Ehsassi and Majid Jowhari. We have a team of people accompanying you through these difficult moments and working with you to achieve the justice, the answers, and the closure that is so incredibly important.
Early January is usually a time when we look forward to the year ahead. Whether we’re going back to work or school, or just turning over a new leaf, it’s a moment for fresh starts. But for the loved ones of the Flight PS752 victims, January 8th is a day of pain, of sorrow, of grief. Because on this day two years ago, Canada lost so many people who were part of our country.
Today, on the National Day of Remembrance for Victims of Air Disasters – and every day – we remember those who were taken by unthinkable tragedies. Tragedies like Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752, Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302, Air India Flight 182. Tragedies that took sisters, brothers, parents, children, and friends. They were newlyweds returning home after celebrations abroad. They were students hoping to become engineers, scientists, or simply get their high school diploma. Doctors and teachers who were loved. Small business owners who gave back to their community.
We remember all of them.
Today, I’m thinking about the conversations I’ve had with many families. I’m thinking about the stories you told me. I’m thinking about the strength and resilience you have shown during these extremely difficult moments. And I can tell you that Canadians are also thinking about you. You are not alone. We are here for you, and we will continue to help.
Whether it’s by honouring the memory of your loved ones with a scholarship program, or by developing a new pathway to permanent residence for certain family members, we’ll continue to support you. And to the families of those we lost on PS752, for whom today marks such a terrible anniversary, let me say this directly: I promise you we will always continue fighting for the accountability, transparency, and justice you deserve.
Flight PS752 was shot down because of the recklessness and complete disregard for human life of Iranian officials. We cannot allow that to stand. Now that Iran has failed to meet the deadline for negotiations, we’ll be vigorously continuing with other international mechanisms for accountability and justice. Canada will stand together with the members of the Coordination Group as a unified front, and we will not rest until Iran is held accountable.
On this National Day of Remembrance for Victims of Air Disasters, we are honouring those we have lost. We are honouring them, and we are committed to continuing our preventative efforts because tragedies like these should never happen.
It is obvious to all that no country responsible for shooting down an aircraft should then also be in charge of the investigation. That doesn’t make sense and it needs to change. Whether it’s stopping civilian airplanes from being put in danger, or preventing accidents and terrorist attacks, we’ll continue our work to keep people safe.
Alongside our partners on the world stage, Canada is leading the Safer Skies Initiative to improve safety and security of air travel worldwide. We’ve also created a new Conflict Zone Information Office at Transport Canada, and we’re pushing for international reforms to improve investigation processes and transparency.
The bottom line is this. We’re making progress to create real change, even as we continue to fight for justice and accountability for the families of those who have been lost and who were murdered.
I know this won’t bring back the people you lost and I know nothing can take away your pain.
But let me say this. Each person was special and loved. They will never be forgotten.
Across the country, your fellow Canadians are thinking of you. And they want you to know that even in the darkness of your loneliness and of your grief, your despair and your anger, you are never alone as we continue to stand with you as Canadians and as a country.