Article Originally published on Defunct Mayhem
It has only been 10 days since the Ukrainian Airlines plane was shot down in Iran. It seems like it has been so much longer.
The global response was quick, and Canada’s response has been empathetic and proactive.
I see, on a regular basis, criticism of anything the Prime Minister does from pundits at outlets like the National Post and especially from the Conservative Party. Their messages are counter-intuitive to me and have caused some resounding cognitive dissonance. Not nearly as much as listening to the Republicans wax poetic fiction during the impeachment hearings, but distracting nonetheless.
Recently, the CPC tweeted the thought that Trudeau will have no impact in Iran, and that the Canadian government will need to list the IRGC as a terrorist organization to effectively respond to the downing of airline PS752.
Due to the Iranian regime’s actions, 57 Canadians lost their lives. Justin Trudeau and the Liberals must ensure those responsible are held accountable for this terrible atrocity. #cdnpoli pic.twitter.com/pGV8gwle6o— Conservative Party (@CPC_HQ) January 13, 2020
For a federal political party, the unfortunate reality of international diplomacy seems to be entirely lost on them.
Trudeau’s press conference on Saturday, January 11th – following the news that Iran had indeed shot down the plane – was leveled and clear. I watched it live, and I saw someone who understands the mechanisms of communication. I watched the Prime Minister speak diplomatically; Trudeau admitted to sadness and anger but refrained from demonizing the country – and people – of Iran.
The Canadian government has focused on acquiring Visas for their investigators – a point well emphasized to the press.
In the statement from the Prime Minister’s office following a phone call with the Iranian President on the 11th, it says PM Trudeau “noted that Canadians were angry, hurt and grieving, and said it was imperative that there be justice, accountability, and compensation for the families of the victims. The Prime Minister insisted on the need for a complete and thorough investigation.”
I am not a politician, but I have been around enough bureaucratic board tables and meeting rooms to know that this statement is polished. Trudeau’s messaging is clear and focused. On January 13th, when the TSB investigators were granted visas in Iran and made their way to the crash site, Trudeau’s messaging evolved again.
In an Interview with Donna Friesen just after the Canadian government got word from Iran that their investigators were approved, Trudeau finally remarked that without the United States killing of Iranian general Soleimani, there would not have been the need for Iran to retaliate. An accusation finally. Blame, but leveled. One that for anyone following the events as they unfolded is indisputable and should be uncontroversial, but alas our world.
PM Trudeau: “…if there was no tensions, if there was no escalations recently in the region, those Canadians would be right now home with their families… this is something that happens when you have conflict & war, innocents pay the brunt of it…”pic.twitter.com/jquXox7kNK— Bessma Momani (@b_momani) January 13, 2020
Just like anything else said on the internet about the movements of our incumbent government, this statement drew the ire of commenters and Trudeau-detractors.
Prime Minister Trudeau has continually, since the evening the plane was shot down, called for de-escalation. I think this consistent message is the most productive stance Canada could have taken and where I think most of the people who feel like Canada’s reaction should have been different are missing the point.
On January 10th, both the Toronto Star and National Post published articles asserting that the Prime Minister should have reacted with more aggressive emotion. In The Star, Heather Scoffield wrote that “sympathy is just not enough” and in The Post, John Ivison wrote “the prime minister expressed a bizarre solidarity with Iran. The tragedy “binds us together in our grief””.
While quick thinking and hot heads are an easy course of action, the recognition and knowledge of the processes that need to be utilized after a catastrophe to prevent it from escalating seem to be continuously limited to those on the inside or the insatiably curious. Since the 10th, Canada’s response has played in our favour. Working with the Iranian government after their admission of guilt rather than impose sanctions and declarations of terrorism has mitigated the risk that Iran would put up barriers to Canadian investigators or nationals entering the country to assist in reclamation and resolution.
PM Trudeau’s point all along seems to be that there are people living in Iran who lost loved ones too; they are also people. Where a goal is to de-escalate, retaliating in a way that closes dialogue rather than opens it would have been an arrogant course of action.
We are lucky that the United States has yet to retaliate in a like-way.
Once the damage from the crash is sorted and families have been connected with their loved one’s remains, and the victims have been laid to rest, then would be the time to begin discussing repercussions.
Ivison ends his article by saying of Iran, “This is not a regime that wants to “engage”. This is not a regime that is going to admit its mistakes.” And yet we have seen them admit mistakes and engage with Canada.
On January 11th, Hafeez Noorani from FU Politics tweeted; “Diplomacy works. Giving a country in the wrong an opportunity to save face works. A level headed foreign policy works. Because our government reacted in the right way…”
Diplomacy works.— Hafeez Noorani 🇨🇦 (@FEEZYDoesIT) January 11, 2020
Giving a country in the wrong an opportunity to save face works. ALevel headed foreign policy works.
Because our government reacted in the right way and we get this admission#cdnpoli #Flight752https://t.co/3rGNNzDaPk
If pundits and commenters could put aside their political alignment and see this diplomacy as coming from Canada rather than coming from the Prime Minister as an individual, I think it would be easier to see through the fog of war and exist in the moment.
We have not been thrown into an escalating global conflict, the world – specifically Canada – has been given the space and time to grieve appropriately. Our governmental systems do not move as quickly as we want them too, but it does not mean that the system is broken. Not yet.