I spoke recently to Colonel Steve Day, former Commanding Officer of Canada’s Joint Taskforce Two (JTF2) special forces military unit. Colonel Day, addressing questions concerning acts of terror in Canada, said it was always a question of “when and not if.”
It was October 22 of last year when terror shook Canada and might have created carnage among this nation’s parliamentarians.
Michael Zehaf-Bibeau first shot and killed Hamilton Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders Corporal Nathan Cirillo at the National War Memorial, then with antiquated hunting rifle in hand stormed into this nation’s parliament firing as he went. Huddled behind caucus room doors were many of Canada’s members of parliament, including Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
Zehaf-Bibeau was killed by parliamentary Sgt at Arms Kevin Vickers and immediately terror on Canadian soil and particularly acts of home grown terror dominated national debate.While the nation had been shocked just two days earlier when Army Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent was killed after being run down by a Quebec jihadist sympathizer, the federal government’s introduction of new anti terror legislation became a certainty the moment the national parliament came under ridiculously easy and potentially deadly attack.
Canada’s new legislation will permit the detention of a terror suspect without charges for an increased period of time. Anyone suspected of attempting to leave Canada in order to participate alongside terror groups internationally will be eligible for interdiction. Private and commercial information-sharing between federal agencies will be enhanced. The promotion of terrorism, including doing so online, will be a criminal act and Ottawa will initiate new measures to fight radicalization.Not everyone is onside. Colonel Day, and to be clear I spoke with him prior to the introduction of the current anti-terror bill, said there are already sufficient laws on the books to combat terrorism in Canada. That sentiment has been expressed by others more recently.
This is a federal election year and even the protection of Canadians from terror attacks will face political challenge. Instead of working cooperatively on at least this measure, politicians will attempt to score electoral points. As long as this nation and other Western democracies define and find themselves under direct attack, and at this juncture most dangerously from within, each act of terror will result in a tightening of restrictions of personal freedoms, coupled with an increase of military and other action against terror groups in their defined areas of operation. Areas growing rapidly.
Paris and Charlie Hebdo, the Sydney hostage-taking incident, the Brussels pre-emptive police and military intervention, as well as October 20 and 22, 2014, in Canada served notice that life will not go on as usual. Perhaps not for a very long time.
By: Roy Green