"Our first priority, at this time, is supporting the families and friends of the 57 Canadians that lost their lives in this tragedy. While we can’t bring back their loved ones, we can make sure that they receive compensation to help them navigate this difficult time," Garneau said.
Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister Omar Alghabra said Ottawa is also actively exploring providing additional compensation to affected families, while the due process of obtaining remuneration from Iran proceeds.
Alghabra added that Ottawa is pursing a number of avenues to assist families with repatriation efforts, including by waiving or refunding visa fees, expediting the visa application process, and providing mental, spiritual, and legal counseling to those affected. So far, no deceased Canadian nationals in the crash have been repatriated, according to Alghabra.
News that the Ukrainian International Airlines (UIA) flight 752 plane crash was the result of an errant missile fired by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) of Iran amid escalating tensions with the United States spurred calls for Tehran to fully compensate the families of the victims, most of whom were Canadians.
Garneau noted that Iran is still in possession of the downed UIA jet’s black boxes, and Canada has not yet been granted access.
“The black boxes are with Iran, which is leading the investigation,” the transport Minister said.
Garneau pointed out that the Iranian government has indicated that Canadian officials will be allowed to participate in the black box reading, but they have not yet been granted access.
Seeking Expanded Role in The Investigation
The transport minister also said that Canada is seeking to upgrade its status in the investigation of the downed Ukrainian passenger jet in Iran.
"Our government is calling on Iran to formalize Canada’s active participation in this investigation as an accredited representative," Garneau told reporters on Wednesday.
Garneau noted that Canada’s Transportation Safety Board Chair Kathy Fox has said Ottawa has been granted expert status in the investigation. Canada has also been invited by the Iranian Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau to download flight recorder data and to inspect the crash site, which goes far beyond the privileges granted by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) charter.
According to the ICAO, accredited representative status is given to the state of aircraft manufacture, engine manufacture and aircraft registration, as such, this status was given to the United States, France, and Ukraine, accordingly.
ICAO Annex 13 stipulates that a country which has a special interest in an accident by virtue of fatalities or serious injuries to its citizens, is entitled to appoint an expert to participate in an investigation.
The Iranian government has gone a step further, permitting two investigators from Canada access to Iran, the crash site, and has said that it will allow access to the black box recording.
London Meeting on Iran Plane Crash
Garneau said that foreign ministers of the countries whose citizens perished in the Ukrainian jet crash hope to achieve consensus on what they will as of Iran at the first meeting of the International Coordination and Response Group meeting in London.
"It’s very important for us to have that meeting tomorrow, because it will basically achieve consensus, amongst the five countries that had nationals that lost their life on this tragic flight, and will make it to clear to Iran what we expect to ensure a full investigation," Garneau said on Wednesday.
International Coordination and Response Group was created at the behest of the Canadian government and will meet for the first time in Canada House in London on Thursday.
On 8 January, Iran downed an Ukraine International Airlines passenger jet shortly after it took off from Tehran, claiming the lives of all 176 aboard, including crew. Most of the passengers were Canadian and Iranian alongside the 9 Ukrainian crew members. The Iranian government admitted it downed the jet, but said it did so by mistake amid tensions of possible war with the United States due to a threat that emerged following the assassination of top Iranian IRGC General Qasem Soleimani on 3 January by the Trump administration.