Politics

'We cannot live in fear': Trudeau reacts to deadly Toronto van attack

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau sought to reassure Canadians on Tuesday that the deadly van attack in Toronto has no connection to national security, while urging people to go about their daily lives after 10 people were killed and more than a dozen were injured.

Alek Minassian, 25, is charged with 10 counts of first-degree murder and 13 counts of attempted murder

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke in Ottawa in the foyer of the House of Commons on Tuesday, saying, 'At this time, we have no reason to suspect that there is any national security element' to the van attack in Toronto. (Justin Tang/Canadian Press)

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau sought to reassure Canadians on Tuesday that the deadly van attack in Toronto has no connection to national security, while urging people to go about their daily lives after 10 people were killed and more than a dozen were injured.

Speaking to reporters in Ottawa, Trudeau said police are conducting an active investigation to learn what was behind the attack.

A 25-year-old from Richmond Hill, in the Greater Toronto Area, has been charged with 10 counts of murder and 13 attempted murder counts.

PM Justin Trudeau issues a statement and answers questions about the Toronto van attack that killed 10 people and injured 15 others. 2:59

"All Canadians continue and will continue to have questions about why this happened, what could possibly be the motives behind it," Trudeau said in the foyer of the House of Commons.

"At this time, we have no reason to suspect that there is any national security element to this attack." 

The Toronto Police Service arrested Alek Minassian after a rental van rammed a number of pedestrians near a busy intersection. 

Trudeau said: "We need to continue to reflect on the changing situations in which we're in and do everything we can to keep Canadians safe. But we cannot, as Canadians, choose to live in fear every single day as we go about our daily business."

Former Toronto Police Chief now Liberal MP spoke to reporters before Question Period on Tuesday 1:05

Trudeau praised Toronto police for handling the "extremely difficult situation" with "professionalism and bravery."

The officer who brought Minassian into custody, Const. Ken Lam, was praised for apprehending the man without firing a gun, even as Minassian threatened he was armed with a weapon. 

A video of the arrest shows Minassian standing next to the open door on the vehicle said to have been used in the attack, his arm outstretched, pointing a black object at the officer.

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer also praised the work of the police.

"The safety and security of Canadians must be the number one priority of any government and the individual responsible for this horrific attack must be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law," he said in a statement on Twitter. "The men and women of our police services represent the best of what it means to be Canadian, and today we thank them."

When asked why he didn't travel to Toronto on Tuesday following the attack, Trudeau said he didn't want his presence to be a distraction "or remove any personnel or any focus away from the important work that's being done."

Toronto officers were seen combing over shuttered portions of Yonge Streets, one of the busiest streets in the country, looking for any physical evidence from the attack. The street remained closed to traffic Tuesday as police continued their investigation.

"I think all Canadians are with Toronto today in our hearts, in our prayers, in our thoughts," Trudeau said. "I will, of course, go to Toronto for this as soon as it makes sense to do so."

Trudeau said he spoke with Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne and Toronto Mayor John Tory on Monday night, and offered the full support of the federal government.

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale, who is in Toronto for a meeting with other G7 national security ministers, called the attack "a very large homicide investigation" that will be handled by the city's police with federal and provincial governments in a supporting role.

Goodale also thanked his international counterparts for their condolences.

U.S. President Donald Trump, speaking to reporters as he welcomed French President Emmanuel Macron to the White House, offered a few words about the attack.

"I also want to express our deepest sympathies to the Canadian people following the horrendous tragedy in Toronto that claimed so many innocent lives. Our hearts are with the grieving families in Canada."

Macron, who spoke to Trudeau by phone on Monday night, reaffirmed the solidarity between France and the people of Canada, and offered any assistance that France could provide.