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World Canada offers assistance to France after ‘barbaric’ attack

Prime Minister Stephen Harper answers a question during question period in the House of Commons, Tuesday, Dec. 9, 2014 in Ottawa.

Adrian Wyld/THE CANADIAN PRESS

After gunmen stormed a French newspaper's offices and killed 12 people, Prime Minster Stephen Harper instructed his cabinet and senior officials to reach out to their French counterparts and to offer assistance.

Mr. Harper called the attack "a barbaric act" that serves as a "grim reminder that no country is immune to the types of terrorist attacks we have seen elsewhere around the world," including the killings of soldiers in Ottawa and Quebec as well as the December shootings in Sydney, Australia.

"Canada and its allies will not be intimidated and will continue to stand firmly together against terrorists who would threaten the peace, freedom and democracy our countries so dearly value. Canadians stand with France on this dark day," the Prime Minister said in a statement.

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The Prime Minister was briefed on the incident by David Vigneault, assistant secretary to the cabinet on security and intelligence. The government announced one day earlier that it was appointing Richard Fadden as the Prime Minister's new national security adviser, but he has yet to assume the position.

The terror-alert level remained stable in Canada, according to a government official. The domestic-terrorism threat level was raised from low to medium three months ago, around the time of two terror attacks on Canadian soil, and was not changed after the attack against the offices of Charlie Hebdo.

Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Minister Steven Blaney laid a dozen roses in front of the French consulate in Quebec City, stating it was an expression of Canada's solidarity with the French. He said freedom of expression was a crucial value in all modern societies, and that terrorism must be fought by all allied countries.

"France and Canada are in tears for these families who have lost loved ones, we are standing together and we share your grief," Mr. Blaney said in Quebec City, alongside French Consul-General Nicolas Chibaeff.

Earlier in the day, Mr. Blaney reached out to his French counterpart, Bernard Cazeneuve, to offer Canada's assistance if necessary.

NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair, whose wife is French and who holds dual Canadian and French citizenship, condemned the "senseless violence."

Mr. Mulcair made a point of holding a news conference on the matter in the National Press Theatre in Ottawa, saying he wanted to speak out in the home of the parliamentary press corps.

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"Everybody in the world who treasures fundamental values like freedom of expression, freedom of religion, freedom of assembly, understands the importance of standing up to this sort of cowardly gesture," he said.

Mr. Mulcair added that he remains concerned about the security of his family. The NDP called on the RCMP for increased protection last fall, after the shooting on Parliament Hill, but Mr. Mulcair said he was not satisfied by the response.

"We continue to be concerned. So far, there has not been any conclusive answer from the RCMP," he said.

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