As a proud Canadian I am usually pleased to see the world’s media congregate here for one reason or another. Olympic Games, a World’s Fair, even Quebec’s two independence referendums all drew international attention. Once again numerous international media agencies, including CNN and BBC, are setting up camp in Canada, but for all the wrong reasons.
On many occasions I sit down in front of this computer screen and document my take on a current item in the news. Given that the blood that flows through my veins has a good dose of Irish in it, I usually find some way to work humour into my piece, even when the subject is anything but funny.
Today, in the wake of yesterday’s calamity in Ottawa that saw the nation’s government locked down, and Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, a brave soldier and young father with his whole life ahead of him, gunned down in a cowardly ambush while on ceremonial guard duty, nothing seems funny.
Virtually an entire city was put on lock-down as police searched for possible additional terrorists, and a whole country came to a stop and held its breath. No doubt as the days pass there will be many questions that must be answered. But yesterday the only question on people’s minds was “How is it possible that this could be happening here, this is Canada?”.
Living as close as we do to the United States, Canadians are all too familiar with senseless attacks on democracy by terrorists. We have always extended a hand to our neighbours in times of trouble, but we were, at least until this week, one step removed from such events, even if just a short step. We have now lost our domestic terror innocence.
I feel it is important to point out that we are not quite as naive as some would have you believe; we have had our share of mindless tragedies, the most revolting of which was Montreal’s École Polytechnique Massacre in 1989 when a gunman took the lives of 14 young women. This incident, the work of one deranged madman, was a blow to the school, the city and the country.
Yesterday’s killing, and the brutal slaying on Monday of Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent just outside of Montreal, may be unrelated. But, frankly, we Canadians were never so naive as to believe that. These murders appear to be links in a chain of random, insidious and cowardly acts of terror that has been unleashed on Canada. Are we being targeted because of our much criticized but democratically determined decision to join in the US fight against ISIS? If so we may have our hands full.