Trudeau asks Canadians to resist fear after Toronto van attack
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is asking Canadians not to give into fear after a van struck and killed at least 10 pedestrians on a busy Toronto street on Monday afternoon.
A growing memorial near the intersection of Yonge Street and Finch Avenue marks the northern tip of a sprawling crime scene after a rental van mowed down dozens of pedestrians on a crowded sidewalk.
Police arrested a male suspect without firing a single shot. Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders identified the suspect as Alek Minassian, 25, of Richmond Hill, Ont. Minassian appeared in court Tuesday morning. He was charged with 10 counts of first-degree murder and 13 counts of attempted murder.
“We cannot as Canadians choose to live in fear every single day as we go about our daily business,” Trudeau told reporters on Tuesday. “We need to focus on doing what we can, and we must do to keep Canadians safe while we stay true to the freedoms and values that we all as Canadians hold dear.”
The incident is a chilling reminder of other deadly incidents in recent years, in which cars, trucks and vans have been driven into crowds. Many experts agree that defending against such attacks is difficult given the destructive power and wide availability of vehicles in busy urban centres.
Federal Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale reiterated that there is currently no “discernable connection to national security” based on current information, at a Tuesday morning meeting in Toronto with Canada’s G7 counterparts.
“You can’t protect against absolutely everything,” Goodale later added ahead of a federal cabinet meeting. “I would say that Canada, compared to other countries, is a country where people can go out and feel safe.”
CTV Public Safety Analyst Chris Lewis is calling the incident Ontario’s largest murder.
“Not only is it the largest in terms of the number of people killed. It’s one of the largest crime scenes ever,” he told Your Morning on Tuesday. “A continuous crime scene with this many dead, this many injured, it’s huge.”
Toronto now joins New York, Barcelona, Charlottesville, Va., London, Stockholm, and several others on the list of cities where a vehicle was used as a deadly weapon against an unsuspecting crowd.
Lewis said the incident on Monday has shaken Toronto’s image as one of the safest large cities in the world.
“It’s fractured the tranquility of what is such a great city,” he said. “It’s mindboggling. It’s tremendously sad.”