Toronto van attack: A subdued Justin Trudeau answers questions

Trudeau: 'All Canadians are with Toronto today in our hearts, in our prayers, in our thoughts'

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told reporters on Parliament Hill this morning that he will visit Toronto “as soon as it makes sense to do so,” but that in order not to distract from the investigation into yesterday’s fatal van attack, and also to let the focus remain on marshalling support for the families of victims and the injured, he won’t be going to Canada’s biggest city immediately.

From behind a podium in the foyer of the House of Commons, Trudeau read prepared remarks in a low voice and then answered a few questions in a noticeably restrained tone. He was in the space familiar to many Canadians as the TV backdrop for countless media scrums of politicians. But both the Prime Minister and journalists who put questions to him were, of course, far more subdued than, say, after a routine question period.

Here are four key quotes from what Trudeau said about the aftermath of the attack on Toronto’s Yonge Street:

On his plan to hold off on travelling to Toronto:

“I think all Canadians are with Toronto today in our hearts, in our prayers, in our thoughts. I will of course go to Toronto for this as soon as it makes sense to do so. But right now it’s very much an active, ongoing situation, and I wouldn’t want to distract or remove any personnel or any focus away from the important work that’s being done, both for the victims and their families and for the investigation.”

On early indications that there’s no national security threat:

“Obviously all Canadians continue and will continue to have questions about why this happened, what could possibly be the motives behind it. As was indicated last night by our public security minister [Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale], we have no reason to suspect that there is any national security element to this attack. But obviously investigations continue.”

On the reports of how paramedics, police and others reacted:

“We can be comforted in seeing the extraordinary response of our first responders, folks who stepped up with courage and ability and ensured that in the face of such terrible tragedy and attack that we are pulling together, and trying to find answers, while keeping people safe. We have extraordinary folks across the country in our police services and our intelligence agencies who work hard every day to keep Canadians safe, and they will continue to do just that.”

On his hope that Canadians won’t let this change how they live:

“Obviously we need to continue to reflect on the changing situations that we are in, and do everything we can to keep Canadians safe. But we cannot as Canadians choose to live in fear every single day as we go about our daily business. We need to focus on doing what we can, we must, to keep Canadians safe, while we stay to true to the freedoms and values that we all as Canadians hold dear.”