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World No increased threat to Canada after Brussels attack, Ottawa insists

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks in the foyer of the House of Commons on March 22, 2016., in response to the deadly attacks in Brussels.

Sean Kilpatrick/THE CANADIAN PRESS

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau condemned the "cowardly" terrorist attacks in Belgium, but his government insisted there was no need to change the threat level in Canada.

Mr. Trudeau learned of the attacks in Brussels before 6 a.m., in a phone call from his chief of staff, Katie Telford. He was briefed in the morning by his national security team, which then provided an update to cabinet at a regularly scheduled meeting.

Afterward, shortly past noon, Mr. Trudeau offered his condolences to the victims' families and promised to keep up Canada's participation in the international fight against terrorism.

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"Canada strongly condemns these cowardly attacks and stands with Belgium at this most difficult time," Mr. Trudeau said in the Foyer of the House of Commons. "What happened today in Brussels was an act of terror. It was violence directed at innocent civilians and its goal was to take lives and instill fear. This cannot and will not be tolerated."

Earlier in the day, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said there are no indications of an increased threat of terrorism in Canada, while adding national-security agencies remain on the alert.

"We have at this moment no reason to change the existing threat level for Canada. That threat level was established in October of 2014 at medium and it remains unchanged," Mr. Goodale said. "It's constantly being assessed and reassessed, but at this moment there is no reason to believe that that threat level for Canada should in any way be changed."

Mr. Goodale warned Canadians to "stay alert, stay vigilant."

"If you notice anything that you consider to be unusual or out of the ordinary, then you should report that circumstance immediately to your local police," Mr. Goodale said.

The deadly bombings sparked sombre moments of mourning in Ottawa, but also a debate over the Liberal government's handling of the fight against the Islamic State and the global jihadist movement.

During Question Period, Conservative MP Jason Kenney called on the Liberal government to clearly state that it is "at war" with the Islamic State and that it recognizes the ongoing "genocide" in Iraq and Syria.

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"ISIS is also engaged in a campaign to eradicate the ancient indigenous peoples of Mesopotamia, the Assyrian Yazidis and other people. The previous Conservative government recognized this as a form of genocide, an example followed by the EU parliament, the U.S. Congress and the Obama administration," Mr. Kenney said.

In the House, Foreign Affairs Minister Stéphane Dion accused the Conservatives of playing politics.

"Canada recognizes five genocides in the history of the world. If we have to recognize a sixth one, it will be done properly with the view of the international organizations appropriate for that. I remind the member that this is also the view of the United States, of the EU and of the United Nations," Mr. Dion said.

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