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Canadian political leaders & citizens condemn deadly Paris attack

BT Toronto | posted Thursday, Jan 8th, 2015

A man holds a placard which reads "I am Charlie" to pay tribute during a gathering at the Place de la Republique in Paris

Canadian political leaders and citizens reacted with horror and anger Wednesday to the attack on a Paris newspaper, with the prime minister touching on Canada’s own recent tragedies involving jihadist sympathizers.

In a statement, Stephen Harper offered condolences to the families and friends of the 12 people killed in the assault and said Canada stands with France. The Canadian embassy in Paris is flying its flag at half mast.

Masked gunmen stormed the office of the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, killing a dozen people — including police officers and journalists — before making their escape.

Hundreds gathered in Toronto’s downtown core at Yonge and Bloor streets Wednesday night for an emotional vigil.

French President Francois Hollande called the attack on the weekly paper, whose caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad have frequently drawn condemnation from Muslims, “a terrorist attack without a doubt.”

“This barbaric act — along with recent attacks in Sydney, (Australia), Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, and Ottawa — is a grim reminder that no country is immune to the types of terrorist attacks we have seen elsewhere around the world,” Harper said.

“Canada and its allies will not be intimidated and will continue to stand firmly together against terrorists who would threaten the peace, freedom and democracy our countries so dearly value. Canadians stand with France on this dark day.”

NDP Leader Tom Mulcair said he was shocked and disgusted by the mass shooting, calling it senseless violence.

“Freedom of speech is a fundamental, universal value,” Mulcair told a news conference on Parliament Hill. “We cannot allow ourselves to be silenced by cowardly acts such as these.”

On Twitter, Canadian politicians delivered an outpouring of condemnation and fury. Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau tweeted his support for the people of France, the victims and their families.

Added Employment Minister Jason Kenney: “Outraged by the brutal terrorist attack against free speech in Paris today. This cult of violence must be stopped.”

Former governor general Michaelle Jean, now the secretary general of the Francophonie, called the killings a “frontal attack” on freedom of expression.

“This goes against the fundamental values of tolerance, diversity and democracy upheld by the Francophonie,” Jean said in a statement. “The fight against terrorism is also that of the francophone community.”

With files from The Associated Press, The Canadian Press, CityNews.ca

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