Update: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan was not in attendance. In fact, he was. We regret the error.
The body of Canadian Armed Forces Bombardier Patrick Labrie, who was killed during a NATO exercise last week in Bulgaria, was returned to Ottawa on Saturday for a memorial service. However, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was not present to pay his respects.
Labrie was a non-commissioned member of the 2nd Regiment, Royal Canadian Horse Artillery based at Petawawa, Ontario. He was sent to an airborne training mission in Bulgaria, Croatia, and Romania called Exercise “Swift Response 19.”
Labrie died after something went wrong during a training jump from a low altitude Monday night.
According to CBC News, his body arrived at around 8 p.m. on Saturday at the Ottawa airport.
Soldiers hoisted Labrie’s casket, draped in a Canadian flag, onto their shoulders and carried it off the plane and into a hangar. Labrie’s family members held hands and walked behind.
Afterwards, Labrie’s parents spoke about their son, his father in French and his mother in English.
“When we heard about our son’s death … it was devastating. We can’t even describe it. Our life has been torn apart,” said Labrie’s mother, Julie Rivard.
“Patrick was a ray of sunshine in our life. He loved everyone, and he was loved by everyone.”
The Department of National Defence is investigating what lead to Labrie’s death. Three other soldiers, including two Americans, were injured in the U.S.-led exercise. However, Labrie was under Canadian command during his exercise.
Lt.-Gen. Jean-Marc Lanthier, commander of the Canadian Army, said in a statement that he was “deeply saddened” by the loss.
“Not only is his death a painful loss to his family and friends, but we feel this loss across the Canadian Army and throughout the entire military community,” he said.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted on this matter:
We contacted the PMO for comments and mentioned that the PM’s schedule doesn’t specify what he was doing on Saturday. Currently, we are awaiting a response.