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Good evening, let’s start with today’s top stories:

The Ukrainian plane was ‘shot down’ by an Iranian missile, Justin Trudeau says

“We have intelligence from multiple sources including our allies and our own intelligence: The evidence indicates that the plane was shot down by an Iranian surface-to-air missile,” Trudeau said today. The revelation comes as the Iranian-Canadian community reels from the Ukraine International Airlines disaster, which killed 176 people, including 138 headed to Canada.

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“This may well have been unintentional,” Trudeau added, saying that the latest information “reinforces the need for a thorough investigation into this matter.”

Go here for the latest updates.

Here’s what else is being said as the situation unfolds:

  • Foreign Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne has spoken with his Iranian counterpart and demanded Canada be “granted access to Iran to provide consular services, identify the victims and participate in a thorough investigation,” Trudeau said.
  • Asked whether he feels the U.S. is partly responsible for what happened – given that the killing of General Qassem Soleimani led to heightened U.S.-Iran tensions – Trudeau said: “I think that’s one of the many questions that people will be thinking about and trying to find answers to.”
  • Iran’s initial report said the plane had caught fire due to a technical failure and that the pilots attempted to return to the airport when the crash occurred.
  • U.S. President Donald Trump suggested earlier in the day that Iran shot down the jet. “I have my suspicions,” he said, after reports citing U.S. officials who pointed to Iran’s missile system.
  • Before Trudeau spoke, the head of Iran’s Civil Aviation Organization said “it is impossible” that a missile hit the plane.
  • Iran has agreed to conduct a joint investigation with Ukraine into the crash. But it has refused to share the black boxes with the U.S., where plane manufacturer Boeing is headquartered. Iran’s initial report said the boxes had been damaged and some parts of their memory had been lost.

Iranian-Canadians are mourning the loss of their loved ones and community members

Mourners attend a vigil at Amir Bakery. (Shaghayegh Moradian/The Globe and Mail)

Shaghayegh Moradian/The Globe and Mail

In North Vancouver, mourners gathered last night at Amir Bakery. The shop is owned by Amir Pasavand, who lost his wife, Ayeshe Pourghaderi, 36, and daughter, Fatemah, 17, in the crash.

“The dad was wishing he was in the airplane instead of them,” said a friend, Reza Varasteh. “He had a hard time realizing he lost his family.”

In Edmonton, people gathered outside the Alberta Legislature to remember around 30 members of the local community who were killed in the crash.

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People lay flowers and light candles in Edmonton. (Todd Korol/The Globe and Mail)

Todd Korol/The Globe and Mail

“This was a flight many of us had a friend, a neighbour, a fellow community member on and it’s devastating,” said Payman Parseyan, a former president of the Iranian Heritage Society of Edmonton.

“We’re here to make sure they’re remembered forever … that we’re here for them and they were important to us and were loved by us.”

The crash victims included academics and students, newlyweds and families. Go here to read about those who were on board.

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Champagne ‘condemned’ Tehran’s missile strikes in a call with his Iranian counterpart

Champagne used Canada’s first ministerial contact with Iran in more than 18 months to protest Iran’s missile attacks that targeted bases in Iraq where Canadian troops were located.

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Champagne spoke with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif Wednesday night, after Canada relocated some of its troops from Iraq to Kuwait for safety reasons amid heightened U.S.-Iran tensions.

Trump has approved further sanctions on Iran and called for a new nuclear deal. An Iranian military commander, meanwhile, warned of “harsher revenge soon” despite Zarif’s comments on Wednesday saying Tehran didn’t want an escalation.

ALSO ON OUR RADAR

Ontario teachers ramp up job action: The province’s elementary-school educators won’t supervise extracurriculars or participate in field trips starting next week – and their union is promising rotating strikes starting on Jan. 20 if the Ford government doesn’t address their demands in contract talks.

Kinsella’s consulting firm didn’t break elections law: The Commissioner of Canada Elections has concluded Warren Kinsella and his Daisy Group didn’t violate the Canada Elections Act when it worked to “seek and destroy” People’s Party of Canada Leader Maxime Bernier by portraying him and his supporters as racist.

Royal ‘Megxit’ causes sensation in Britain: The decision by Prince Harry and Meghan Markle to step back from royal duties has caught the Queen and other members of the Royal Family off guard. And British media, from tabloids to the BBC, have been going full throttle with their coverage, including the prospect of the couple spending more time in Canada.

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MARKET WATCH

Equity markets around the world set new highs as tensions eased in the Middle East between the United States and Iran. Canada’s main stock index hit a record high, boosted by gains in the technology and energy sectors. The S&P/TSX composite index closed up 0.39 per cent to 17,235.57.

On Wall Street, stock indexes gained on news in the Middle East and comments from China that it will sign a Phase 1 trade deal in Washington next week. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.74 per cent to 28,957.44, the S&P 500 gained 0.67 per cent to 3,274.69 and the Nasdaq Composite added 0.81 per cent to 9,203.43.

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TALKING POINTS

B.C.'s gas-pipeline protest will end in a whimper, not a bang

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Gary Mason: “While uncertainty surrounds the final outcome of a blockade that has halted construction of an important natural-gas pipeline in northern B.C., be assured that the protest by a small group of Indigenous leaders and environmental activists has zero chance of jeopardizing completion of the project.”

For the Wet’suwet’en peoples, justice has been denied. What else is new?

Stephen O’Neill: “Denying Indigenous law any effectual meaning as “law,” and potentially criminalizing the actions taken under Wet’suwet’en customary law and authority, will not lead to reconciliation. Indeed, it is the antithesis to reconciliation, however that word may be interpreted in law or in practice.” The Honourable Stephen O’Neill was a judge on the Ontario Superior Court of Justice from 1999 to 2015.

LONG READ FOR A LONG COMMUTE

Memories inspire refugee playwright Ahmad Meree

When Ahmad Meree sits alone in his living room, he misses his family. When he eats his meals, he tastes the food he once ate with them. When he sleeps, he dreams of the happy and the horrible moments he had in Aleppo, Syria.

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This inescapable stream of memories, writes Maan Alhmidi, inspired Meree to write Adrenaline and Suitcase. The two plays will run for two weeks at Toronto’s Theatre Passe Muraille starting Jan. 16.

Evening Update is written by Arik Ligeti. If you’d like to receive this newsletter by e-mail every weekday evening, go here to sign up. If you have any feedback, send us a note.

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