Rosemary Westwood: The voice of Metro.
Domestic terrorism is a terrible fact of life, even in Canada. We can’t let it drive us to hate
Canada’s borders, and our distance from Islamic terrorism’s epicentre in the Middle East and North Africa, can’t shield us.
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All kinds of things are “the kinds of things” that happen in Canada.
Among them, acts of terror.
Police are still investigating whether Toronto was hit by a terror attack Monday, when Montreal-born Ayanle Hassan Ali barrelled into a military recruiting centre in Toronto, stabbing two Forces members and shouting, “Allah told me to come here and kill people.”
But whatever this investigation reveals, we should be prepared for domestic terrorism. And our reaction should, I think, be split: some outrage, and something more like preparedness. Not complacency, not anything so passive as acceptance, but understanding that this is the world, and the country, we live in now.
Extremism has a platform on the web it has never had before. Dangerous ideas spread rapidly. Individuals can commit terrorism unaided, untethered to an organization. People born in Canada, and people radicalized here. Witness Parliament Hill, 2014.
Canada’s borders, and our distance from Islamic terrorism’s epicentre in the Middle East and North Africa, can’t shield us. Our intelligence and law enforcement agencies, however, aren’t doing such a bad job, according to security expert Martin Rudner. Last year, the RCMP prevented 30 terrorist plots targeting Canada, Rudner said.
Rudner, founding director of the Canadian Centre of Intelligence and Security Studies at Carleton University, argues lone-wolf attacks should be taken very seriously.
People don’t need the support or direction of an established terrorist group, he notes. They only need inspiration for an attack, which is easily found online from groups like Islamic State that explicitly advocate targeting Canada.
Preventing attacks is obviously the top priority, but Rudner says trial and conviction of terror suspects (something we’ve done, notably with life sentences for both suspects in the Via Rail plot) is also key to disrupting any terrorist’s key goal: to sow fear.
The real question going forward, Rudner says, is “What happens beyond this?”
How do we prevent attacks from inspiring others to act? How to we stem hate?
Partly, by dealing with our own hate. So it was a relief to hear the Toronto police chief’s almost-exasperated comments yesterday.
“I don’t want this categorizing a large group of people; that will be very unfair and very inaccurate,” he told media.
“Don’t go to that Islamophobic nonsense.”
Terrorist acts are a “new normal,” to quote New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. That’s not to accept them, but to recognize where we stand. And what we stand against.