Trudeau offers support to France after Paris attacks

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pauses as he addresses the media on the terrorist attacks in Paris prior to his departure for the G20 and APEC summits from Ottawa, Friday November 13, 2015. Trudeau says Canada has offered all the support it can to France following Friday’s attacks in Paris. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Mike Blanchfield, The Canadian Press

OTTAWA - Prime Minister Justin Trudeau offered “all of Canada’s support” to France on Friday night in the wake of “deeply worrying” terrorist attacks in Paris that killed at least 120 people.

“Our hearts and thoughts and prayers go out to our French cousins in this dark and terrible time,” Trudeau said Friday, moments before boarding a plane to attend the G20 summit in Turkey. “We have offered all of our help and support to the government of France.”

Trudeau also said he was taking steps to ensure the security of Canadians was safeguarded.

“I’ve been speaking with our national security team to ensure everything is being done to keep people safe,” he said.

The co-ordinated attacks in Paris prompted a state of emergency in the French capital. Some Canadians were uncomfortably close to the violence.

Mike Miltmore from Kamloops, B.C., was eating dinner at a restaurant in the French capital when shots rang out nearby.

“Police came in with machine guns and everything like that, and they were shooing everyone out into the streets,” he told CFJC Radio in Kamloops. “It’s actually a little scary when you don’t know what’s going on.”

The restaurant was evacuated and Miltmore was sent to his hotel room blocks away.

Amelia Aspen and her husband arrived home at their Paris apartment around the time the attacks began.

“We got a message from a friend saying, ‘Something is going on in your neighbourhood, stay inside your apartment,’ and we did,” said the artist, who moved from Edmonton, Alta., with her husband in October.

Aspen said the couple had been watching the events on the news and listening to a lot of sirens.

Carolyne Ouellette was working at The Moose, a Canadian-themed sports bar in the French capital, when reports of the attacks began coming in.

The bar was broadcasting the France-Germany soccer game where one of the attacks reportedly occurred, but there were no signs of terror, said Ouellette, who is from St. Catharine’s, Ont.

Customers were checking their phones to see what was happening, but the mood was calm.

“Nothing seemed out of the ordinary,” Ouellette said.

Despite the state of emergency, Canadian flights to Paris appeared to be largely unaffected.

Isabelle Arthur, a spokeswoman for Air Canada, said the airline was monitoring the situation and planned to operate flights to and from Paris as scheduled. She added that Air Canada had waived the fees for passengers who had tickets to Paris, but wanted to change their flight to a later date.

A spokeswoman for Air Transat said the airline had not cancelled any flights, but one had been delayed.

Trudeau said there was no indication that any Canadians were targeted. As word broke of the attacks, Canadian politicians expressed their condolences.

Federal Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould tweeted that her thoughts and prayers went out to the victims and the people of Paris.

NDP Leader Tom Mulcair expressed shock at the “horrific” attacks and says he and his wife Catherine were praying for the victims and their families.

The Canadian government issued a notice advising Canadians in the capital to be extremely vigilant and the Canadian ambassador to France released a statement saying it had received many worried calls and was in contact with Canadian security officials.

Rona Ambrose, interim leader of the Conservative Party and leader of the Official Opposition, called for “swift action to bring those responsible to justice.”

“No matter who is responsible for these heinous attacks, we will continue to stand firmly with our allies,” she said in a statement. “We will continue to protect the rights and freedoms that define us as Canadians from those who wish to take them away, and strive to ensure Canada remains the peaceful, open, and free nation we value so much.”

The trip to the G20 is Trudeau’s first abroad since he was elected prime minister.

Since it began in earnest during the 2008 Great Recession, the G20 has become charged with dealing with the world’s economy. But because Turkey is at the forefront of the Syrian crisis — it has absorbed more than two million refugees — the G20’s agenda was expanded for the first time beyond pure economic matters.

This weekend’s summit marks the first time the G20 agenda has been expanded beyond the global economy, following a dynamic that also occurred with the G7 and G8 over the previous decades

— With files from reporter Gemma Karstens-Smith in Vancouver

© The Canadian Press, 2015

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