Metro Morning

Attack in Nice: French elected consular counsellor urges compatriots, Canadians to stay calm

A French consular official based in Toronto is calling on Canadians and the people of France to stay calm and not fall prey to religious and ethnic bigotry after last week's attack in Nice that killed 84 people.

With high emotions following Nice, people must not give in to fear, Marc Cormier tells Metro Morning

Marc Cormier, an elected consular counsellor based at the French Consulate in Toronto, is calling on his people not to give in to fear and bigotry after last week's deadly attack in Nice. (Twitter)

A French consular official based in Toronto is calling on Canadians and the people of France to stay calm and not fall prey to religious and ethnic bigotry after last week's attack in Nice that killed 84 people. 

Marc Cormier, who is a consular councillor representing France in Ontario and Manitoba, spoke to CBC's Metro Morning on Monday, the same day his country observed a minute of silence for the victims who died when a cargo truck plowed into a Bastille Day crowd. It was the third attack in France in 18 months.

"It's deja-vu … it's almost become a routine," Cormier said.  

He shared the response he has heard from people both in France and in Canada since the attack.

He said people in France feel confused, exhausted and angry. He said many are also dissatisfied with the security system, which they believe fails them with each new attack. 

Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, the driver of the truck, was a French resident born in Tunisia. ISIS claimed responsibility days after the attack. The link between Bouhlel and ISIS is still under examination. 

Cormier worries that incident has stoked religious and ethnic hatred. 

"Some of what's coming forth is actually quite scary," he said.

Cormier said he feels compelled to "educate people to the fact that this might not be the right answer. But at the same time you want these people to vent. So it's a balancing act."

He said his role is to "listen first," then educate. With violent events shaking the world, Cormier wants people to remain rational in the midst of confusion. 

People placed flowers on the Promenade des Anglais at the scene of the truck attack that killed 84 people last Thursday. A crowd gathered Monday morning to hold a moment of silence to remember the lives lost on Bastille Day. (AP Photo/Claude Paris) (The Associated Press)

In Canada, the response to the attack is different, he says. Cormier senses "an outpouring of understanding and emotion, of solidarity."

At the same time, some French people based in Canada are afraid to return to France. 

"My message is very clear to my compatriots: If we start changing our behaviours, we're actually giving reason to terrorists to act. So let's not change our behaviour. Let's keep going back to our country."