Although there’s “still much to know about” the unidentified object shot down over Yukon, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said it posed a “reasonable threat” to the safety of Canadians.
Speaking to reporters at a press conference in Yukon on Sunday, Trudeau said the unidentified object “unlawfully” entered Canadian airspace and was shot down by an American F-22 on Saturday.
“The safety of Canadians is our number one priority,” Trudeau said. “And that’s why I made the decision to shoot down the object that was a threat to civil aviation and a potential threat to Canadians.”
On Saturday afternoon, Trudeau said he ordered the object to be shot down after it violated Canadian airspace. The announcement came minutes after an exclusive Global News report, published at 3:36 p.m. ET, that North American Aerospace Defense Command NORAD was monitoring an object that could be another potential spy balloon.
The high-altitude airborne object was downed at approximately 3:41 p.m. ET.
Trudeau said he also spoke with U.S. President Joe Biden and they agreed that both countries will continue to protect the sovereignty of their shared North American airspace and keep citizens safe.
He then continued to thank members of the Canadian Armed Forces and NORAD for “doing everything necessary to keep us safe.”
“Their service is extraordinarily important to all of us,” Trudeau said.
Amid speculation on whether the airborne object has ties with China, Canada’s Defence Minister Anita Anand said Saturday that “it’s far too early” to comment.
“I will not be speculating on the origins of this object this evening. It is far too early in our analysis of the debris as we are still collecting,” she said Saturday.
Trudeau said recovery teams are on the ground looking to find and analyze the object. He added that the government would inform Canadians when more information is available.
The U.S. shot down a balloon off the coast of South Carolina last weekend, saying the balloon was equipped to detect and collect intelligence signals. However, China claimed that the balloon was a weather research “airship” that had blown off course.
According to the White House, the object downed over Yukon did not resemble the Chinese surveillance balloon shot down off the coast of South Carolina last week.
In an email to Global News sent Sunday, a spokesperson for the White House National Security Council said the airborne objects over Canada and Alaska “did not closely resemble” and were “much smaller” than the Chinese spy balloon.
“We will not definitively characterize them until we can recover the debris, which we are working on,” the spokesperson said.
— with files from Global News’ Mercedes Stephenson, Alex Boutilier, Irelyne Lavery and Reggie Cecchini