Harper not attending Polish funeral
Volcanic ash closes airspace in Poland and other European countries
Prime Minister Stephen Harper has cancelled his planned trip to Poland to attend Sunday's state funeral of President Lech Kaczynski amid widening airspace restrictions in Europe.
His spokesman, Dimitri Soudas, announced the cancellation at a media briefing Saturday.
Harper and a delegation of dignitaries, including the leaders of all three federal opposition parties, were scheduled to fly out of Ottawa early Saturday for the funeral in Krakow.
The flight was first pushed back to the afternoon, and later cancelled altogether, as a growing volcanic ash plume forced extended no-fly restrictions over much of Europe.
On Friday, Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon postponed a planned trip to Russia, Croatia and Finland because of the airspace closures.
A number of world leaders, including U.S. President Barack Obama, have been prevented from attending the funeral of Kaczynski, who died in a plane crash in Russia last Saturday.
The huge volcanic ash cloud drifting across Europe has grounded flights to Polish airports over concerns the particles could cause aircraft engines to fail.
Twenty-one European countries have closed their airspace in whole or in part. Airports are closed in all of Britain and Germany, northern France and northern Italy. The restrictions have been in place for many of those countries for a third straight day.
Flights in southern Europe, including those in Spain, Bulgaria, Greece, Portugal, Turkey and the southern regions of Italy, are still taking off and landing.