The head of a Canadian food giant appeared to blame US President Donald Trump for the deaths of Canadians, including an employee’s wife and child, in the downing of a jetliner in Iran.

The Ukraine International Airlines Boeing 737 was shot down by a missile shortly after taking off from Tehran before dawn last Wednesday, killing all 176 passengers and crew on board.

Fifty-seven of the victims were Canadian.

Maple Leaf Foods chief executive Michael McCain said late Sunday in a Twitter message that a colleague lost his wife and child to a “needless, irresponsible series of events in Iran.”

“US government leaders unconstrained by checks/balances, concocted an ill-conceived plan to divert focus from political woes,” he said.

Without naming Mr Trump, the head of Canada’s largest meatpacking company pointed the finger at “a narcissist in Washington” for destabilizing the Middle East region.

“The world knows Iran is a dangerous state, but the world found a path to contain it; not perfect but by most accounts it was the right direction,” Mr McCain said.

By Monday morning, the message had been shared by more than 14,000 Twitter users.

Long-standing US-Iran tensions have soared since January 3 when missiles fired from a US drone killed a top Iranian commander, Qasem Soleimani, near Baghdad’s airport.

Iran responded with a barrage of missiles at two US bases in Iraq, inflicting no casualties in what was seen as an attempt to prevent a spiral of escalation.

But hours later, an Iranian Revolutionary Guard unit mistakenly shot down the Ukrainian passenger jet, in what Iranian President Hassan Rouhani called a “human error”.

UK talks set over plane shot down by Iran

Five countries whose citizens were killed when an airliner was shot down by Iran last week will meet in London on Thursday to discuss possible legal action, Ukraine’s foreign minister has said.

Speaking on the sidelines of an official visit to Singapore on Monday, Vadym Prystaiko said the five nations would also discuss compensation and the investigation into the incident.

All 176 people on board the Ukraine International Airlines flight were killed in the crash on Wednesday, minutes after the plane took off from Tehran airport.

After days of denials, Iran said on Saturday its military had shot down the plane in a “disastrous mistake”.

A relative of passengers and crew members of the crashed Ukraine International Airlines Flight PS752 reacts at the Boryspil airport outside Kiev.

A relative of passengers and crew members of the crashed Ukraine International Airlines Flight PS752 reacts at the Boryspil airport outside Kiev.


In Kiev, a top security official said a senior Iranian investigator would visit the Ukrainian capital in the coming days to determine whether a Ukrainian laboratory is suitable to decode the plane’s black box flight recorders.

“We have created this group of foreign ministers from the grieving nations. On January 16, we will meet in person in London to discuss the ways, including legal, how we are following this up, how we are prosecuting them (Iran),” Prystaiko said.

He said the five nations also included Canada – which had at least 57 passport holders aboard the doomed flight – Sweden, Afghanistan and a fifth country which he did not name. Canada has previously said these four countries and Britain had established a coordination group to support victims’ families.

Many on board were Iranians with dual citizenship.

Prystaiko also insisted suggestions from Iran that the plane was shot down as it flew near a sensitive military base during a time of heightened tensions were “nonsense”.

Oleksiy Danylov, secretary of Ukraine’s national security and defence council, told Reuters in Kiev that Iran would have the final say on where the black box recorders would be decoded.