These are the top stories:
Remembering the victims of the plane crash in Iran
“See you soon,” Ghanimat Azhdari wrote in an e-mail to her PhD supervisor just before boarding. Iman Aghabali posted a selfie with his friend Mehdi Eshaghian moments before takeoff. Fareed Arasteh got married on Sunday and had been talking about the dreams he and his wife shared.
The four were among the 176 people killed after Ukrainian International Airlines Flight 752 crashed minutes after departing from Tehran’s airport. Of the 176, 138 were headed to Canada, and at least 63 were Canadians. They were academics and students, new immigrants and families, young and old.
The disaster – the largest Canadian death toll in a plane incident since the 1985 Air India bombing – has left communities reeling. In Edmonton alone, about 1 in every 100 Iranians living in the city were on the flight. You can go here for our profiles of the victims; it is being updated as we learn more.
This is what we know so far about the crash and the response
- Foreign Minister François-Philippe Champagne has held a rare phone conversation with his Iranian counterpart, Foreign Minister Javad Zarif. However, Ottawa has had no diplomatic representation in Iran since 2012, and this is expected to limit the federal government’s ability to investigate and offer assistance to families of the victims, with Canada turning to allies for diplomatic support.
- Iran released its initial report into the disaster, saying the jet had been trying to turn back when it crashed. It also said both black boxes from the Boeing 737-800 jet had been recovered but that some data was lost due to damage. Iran has refused to hand over the black boxes to Boeing or U.S. aviation authorities.
- The plane’s transponder, which broadcasts flight data, stopped transmitting before the jet plunged. It’s not clear what event led to the system failure; one expert ruled out engine failure.
- Initial assessment pointed to a “technical malfunction,” not a missile. Still, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau would not rule out any scenario, saying, “It’s too early to speculate.”
- The jet had been built in 2016 and was last serviced two days before the disaster. Both pilots had thousands of hours of experience flying 737 aircraft, UIA said.
- Unlike the 737 Max, this 737 series has been around for years and has among the industry’s best safety records. There have, however, been a handful of major crashes in recent years.
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Some Republicans are backing a Democratic attempt to limit Donald Trump’s powers on Iran
Motions will soon be put forward in the House of Representatives and the Senate to curb the U.S. President’s ability to fight Iran. If a two-thirds majority is achieved, Trump wouldn’t be able to override the measure with a veto.
The congressional measures come as Trump vows to impose further sanctions on Iran. So far, he has stopped short of announcing further military retaliation and has called on NATO to become “much more involved in the Middle East.” Trump said he is continuing to “evaluate other options” for dealing with Iran.
Konrad Yakabuski writes that “when it comes to defining the core problem that Iran represents, there is plenty to suggest that [Trump] is right.”
The Globe’s editorial board argues that Iran’s measured counterattack, which produced no casualties, “seems to have temporarily vindicated Trump’s unprecedented and impetuous decision to kill the second-most-powerful person in Iran.”
Paul Heinbecker, a former Canadian ambassador to the UN, says that “while [NATO] membership requires loyalty to allies as dictated by Article 5, it does not require blindness to rogue behaviour.”
The future of Canada’s mission in Iraq is in question
Canada, which has 500 troops in Iraq, shifted some army trainers to nearby Kuwait amid a pause over security concerns.
Iraq’s parliament has demanded that U.S. troops leave the country, and if Trump decides to pull those 5,000 soldiers, then allies including Canada likely wouldn’t go back to Iraq for those training operations.
ALSO ON OUR RADAR
Japan, Carlos Ghosn trade shots in the media: After Ghosn held a press conference where he said he was treated “brutally” by Tokyo prosecutors in a system that allowed him “zero chance” of a fair trial, Japan’s justice minister slammed the former Nissan boss for “looking to justify his unlawful exit from Japan by propagating a false recognition of our justice system.” In Lebanon, where Ghosn fled to avoid his trial, a prosecutor imposed a travel ban on the former Nissan boss on Thursday.
Expert warns of Alberta Pension Plan risks: Premier Jason Kenney has pointed to Alberta’s younger work force disproportionately paying into the national plan as a reason to create a provincial one. But Keith Ambachtsheer, who was central to the 90s debate over reforming the national pension, is concerned Alberta’s demographics will reverse should oil-patch woes deepen.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle eye North America: The couple has announced plans to “step back as ‘senior’ members of the Royal Family and work to become financially independent” – a shift that will see them spend more time on this continent. That could include living in Canada; they recently vacationed on Vancouver Island and Markle previously resided in Toronto.
World markets back from the brink: World markets looked to have overcome their new year wobbles on Thursday, as the United States and Iran backed away from conflict in the Middle East. In Asia, Tokyo’s Nikkei jumped 2.31 per cent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng gained 1.68 per cent. In Europe, Britain’s FTSE 100 was up 0.53 per cent just before 6:30 a.m. ET. Germany’s DAX rose 1.21 per cent and France’s CAC 40 advanced 0.21 per cent. New York futures were higher. The Canadian dollar was trading at 76.61 US cents.
WHAT EVERYONE’S TALKING ABOUT
No, the NHL all-star game shouldn’t be a priority
Cathal Kelly: “At this time of year, everyone in the league is a little dinged up and weary of the travel. The playoffs still seem a long way away. The pros don’t get many holidays in December. Everyone would appreciate some time off.”
TODAY’S EDITORIAL CARTOON
MOMENT IN TIME
Confederation Train opens its doors to visitors
Jan. 9, 1967: The railway helped knit Canada together, so it is fitting that a train journey was part of the year-long celebrations to mark the 100th anniversary of Confederation. The purple-hued Confederation Train, a kind of museum on wheels, opened its doors to visitors for the first time on this day in 1967 in Victoria. It remained there for a week before setting off across the country, stopping in cities and towns along the way. Displays in its six exhibition cars, featuring sound effects, lighting, artifacts and photos, traced this land’s history back to the most recent ice age and told the story of the first inhabitants’ arrival across the Bering Strait. The exhibits also covered the arrival of European explorers, Confederation and the evolution of Canada as we know it today. The train sounded its arrivals with the most Canadian of signals: the first four notes of O Canada. It arrived in Nova Scotia in October then headed back west to Montreal, ending its trip on Dec. 5. Along the way, 2,739,700 visitors stepped aboard. – Ian Bailey