Canada’s threat level unchanged, police assessing mosque security after New Zealand attacks
Published Friday, March 15, 2019 12:13PM EDT
Last Updated Friday, March 15, 2019 3:06PM EDT
Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale says the threat level remains unchanged in Canada and police are re-assessing the security of Canadian religious facilities in the wake of attacks on two New Zealand mosques that left at least 49 dead.
One man has been charged with murder following the attack, which appears to have been racially motivated.
"At this time there is no known nexus to Canada and Canada’s threat level remains unchanged at 'medium,'" Goodale said in a tweet.
According to the government’s website, a medium threat level means a violent act of terrorism "could occur." Canada’s threat level has remained at medium since October 2014.
Speaking to reporters Friday, Goodale also said police are visiting mosques and other religious facilities in Canada to assess their safety and security in a direct response to the attack.
"You may have seen over the course of the last number of hours that various police services across the country are visiting religious facilities, including mosques in particular, to check in on their current status," he said.
Goodale added that the RCMP is in touch with local law enforcement around the country to ensure that appropriate security is in place in all religious facilities.
"Obviously they are paying particular attention to Muslim communities, mosques and Muslim facilities across the country," Goodale said.
Political reaction pours in
Goodale affirmed that Canada is both supporting and standing in solidarity with New Zealand following the attacks.
"Everybody has the right to practise their faith + culture without fear. Canada is closely following the appalling terrorist attack in New Zealand," Goodale said in a tweet.
Other political reaction has also been pouring in throughout the day, including from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who called the attacks "appalling."
"Far too often, Muslims suffer unimaginable loss and pain in the places where they should feel safest," Trudeau said in a statement. "To move forward as a world, we need to recognize diversity as a source of strength, and not a threat."
Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer also tweeted two statements following the attack. The first came under fire after he failed to mention that the attack took place at a mosque and targeted the Muslim community. Later in the day, a subsequent statement specifically condemned the "hateful attack on the Muslim community."
Echoes of 2017 Quebec City mosque attack
Many of those reacting to the shooting, including Trudeau, also pointed to the January 2017 attack on a mosque in Quebec City, which killed six people.
"Canada remembers too well the sorrow we felt when a senseless attack on the Centre culturel islamique de Québec in Ste-Foy claimed the lives of many innocent people gathered in prayer," he said.
The president of the centre where the attack took place, Boufeldja Benabdallah, also weighed in on the tragedy. He said it was "terrible" and acknowledged that it brought memories of Quebec City shooting racing back into his mind.
"My God, this is terrible. All the images came back like it was yesterday...for them, this must be a terrible and very difficult day," Benabdallah said in French.
He also said governments must work to stop the spread of hate on social networks.
"There are tools out there that are being used by these people that are just fuelling the hated, and this is the problem," he said. "You’re strangers in your own country."
Ottawa Police say they are increasing patrols around all mosques and facilities where the Muslim community gathers. Police say they want the community know they are here for them.— Annie BergeronOliver (@AnnieClaireBO) March 15, 2019