Trudeau offers Canadian lumber, steel to help rebuild Notre Dame Cathedral

By The Canadian Press
May 15, 2019 - 7:00am

PARIS — Canada is offering softwood lumber and steel to help with the reconstruction of Paris's famed Notre Dame Cathedral, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Wednesday after touring the iconic monument that was partially destroyed by fire in mid-April.

Not long after arriving in Paris, Trudeau visited Notre Dame alongside the cathedral's rector, Patrick Chauvet, and French Culture Minister Franck Riester.

He said it was an honour to be able to exhibit some of the solidarity Canadians feel toward their French cousins.

"Canada will stand with France and ensure we offer all the support — whether it's steel or wood or whatever help we can," Trudeau said. "This is truly a piece — not just of French history — but of world history that needs to be preserved and we will be there to be part of it."

A fire devastated the 12th-century cathedral on April 15, with the dramatic blaze playing out live on television across the globe.

Firefighters finally managed to gain control the blaze after several hours. The main structure and relics were preserved, but the cathedral's roof and its famous spire were destroyed.

Philippe Villeneuve, the architect responsible for the church's restoration, explained to Trudeau the extent of the damage and what it will take to bring the building back to life.

"This was a terrible, terrible fire, but you can't help but marvel at how so much was saved even as we did lose so much," Trudeau said Wednesday.

The Canadian Steel Producers Association and the Forest Products Association of Canada have already indicated their support for the government initiative.

In a letter sent to French President Emmanuel Macron this week, Trudeau said Canada was proud to support France in the reconstruction.

"The success of these sectors reflects the talent and hard work of Canadians, and we will be happy to put these assets to work for France," Trudeau wrote.

Trudeau was in Paris to take part in a series of meetings in the fight against extremism and online violence, some two months after an attack at a mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, left 51 dead.

Alongside Macron and New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, Trudeau attended the Christchurch Call to Action summit and adopted the "Christchurch Appeal," which is a plan to stop the spread of hate online.

He is also scheduled to speak Thursday at the VivaTech summit, an annual event celebrating innovation that brings together startups and industry leaders.

Trudeau also has several bilateral meetings scheduled with the leaders of Jordan and Norway on Wednesday and France and New Zealand on Thursday, when the two-day visit wraps up.

Catherine Levesque, The Canadian Press

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