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The Threat from the Attack on Parliament

“They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” -Benjamin Franklin

Forty-four years ago this month terrorists of the Front de libération du Québec (FLQ) kidnapped Quebec Cabinet Minister Pierre Laporte and British diplomat James Cross. Mr. Laporte was subsequently murdered, his body left in the trunk of a car.

In response to the crisis, the Liberal government of Pierre Trudeau invoked the War Measures Act, effectively imposing marital law on Montreal and Ottawa. Hundreds of Canadian citizens were rounded up and arrested without charge or warrant. They were detained on suspicion; guilty by association and a frightened government suspended their constitutional rights and ordered troops into the streets of Ottawa and Montreal.

Long after the crisis was resolved, the government’s actions were re-examined and widely criticized. Cooler heads determined that the ability of a government – any government – to have the power to arrest and indefinitely inter citizens based on nothing more than suspicion was an even greater threat to Canadians than the terrorists themselves.

As a result the War Measures Act was repealed effectively removing the power to override every citizen’s rights and freedoms under the law.

This morning a gunman shot a member of the Honour Guard at Canada’s National War Museum and then proceeded to the Canadian Parliament buildings where he engaged in a gunfight with security staff and law enforcement. He was subsequently shot by the Sergeant at Arms.

                  

It remains unclear as to how many additional attackers, if any, are involved. There have been reports that a second shooter was killed, that there were shootings at the Rideau Centre shopping mall down the street from Parliament Hill and that law enforcement is searching for a third and possibly more shooters.

None of these reports have been confirmed at the time of writing this post but it has been confirmed that the young honour guard who was shot at the war memorial has has died from his wounds.

This is an event that is more than just a news story for me and for our family.

My wife, Maggie, is in lockdown in a government building that is literally across the street from Parliament Hill where the shootings took place. Her daughter and various other members of our family are in similar situations in government buildings across the downtown core. They are all safe as I write this but I share the same concerns for Maggie, and them all, that countless others share for their wives, husbands, parents and children who are in a similar position.

In a phrase, we are worried for the safety of the people we love especially because the situation is chaotic, fluid and unresolved. Nobody really knows the full extent of what may happen and it is the fear of the unknown that amplifies our concern.

I’ve been following coverage on our local news/talk radio station; a station with a definite conservative bent and what I am hearing has served to remind me of just how far amplified fears can take us if we allow them too.

The attack was horrific enough but the commentary of the four on-air personalities is more than just frightening. Before it has even been established as to whether the shooter(s) is a radicalized terrorist or a psychopath like Kimveer Gill the Dawson College shooter, they would hand government more powers than were ever available to it under the former War Measures Act.

One commentator thinks that satellite television and the Internet should be censored. Another has been emphacizing his belief that Canadian citizens should be arrested and held indefinitely without either charge or warrant. All that would be required is that the government ‘thinks’ someone might be capable of committing a terrorist act at some point in the future.

It is the giving the government unrestricted power to ‘decide’ someone is guilty rather than being required to ‘prove’ they are either a threat to the state or have a committed a crime.

What kind of Orwellian totalitarianism is this? It hasn’t even confirmed that the shooter(s) are radical jihadists.  Are these really conservatives I’m listening too? Have they so easily forgotten the lessons learned when the War Measures Act was imposed forty-four years ago?

These are some the same people who opposed the Gun Registry because it was an abuse of government power; an intrusion into the lives of citizens. How much more of an intrusion into a citizen’s life is it to arrest him or her on suspicion and then to hold them without trial or conviction for as long as the government wishes?

Many have tried to compare various progressive legislations, like the Gun Registry, to the government oppression of countries like the former Soviet Union. Despite the number of gun crimes committed in this country, they scream about the infringement of personal liberty at any attempt to further regulate gun ownership. And yet, here we have four conservative commentators advocating that citizens be arrested and detained indefinitely despite having committed no crime.

“Individual rights are not subject to a public vote; a majority has no right to vote away the rights of a minority; the political function of rights is precisely to protect minorities from oppression by majorities (and the smallest minority on earth is the individual).” -Ayn Rand

It isn’t merely hypocrisy, it’s fear elevated to panic; the concession of the very freedoms that make us who we are in order to obtain the illusion of security and which are guaranteed to us in our Charter of Rights and Freedoms. If we give in to that level of hysteria, the terrorists have already won.

We are a free people and just as gun owners have every right to the responsible acquisition and ownership of firearms without government interference, so too do we as citizens have every right to the protection our constitution guarantees us to the presumption of innocence and habeus corpus.

This country does not need a Guantanamo Prison where suspected radicals are held without trial at the whim of the government of the day.

What would be next? Would we then agree that we should arrest anyone we think might be capable of murder or armed robbery or opposition to the current government’s policies? Should we arrest and detain a legal gun owner who is has voiced opposition to the government because he might have the potential of committing an act of violence against that government? Where does it end?

Do we allow ourselves to become like Germany as the Nazis rose to power; a people willing to remain silent as our neighbours are rounded up and interred because of their religion or their political ideology? Who decides who should be arrested? Will it be the Prime Minister and his or her Cabinet? Will it be CSIS or the RCMP or local law enforcement and will the reasons why someone has been arrested be hidden and kept secret? Will the person arrested be entitled to legal representation?

I believe this kind of power in the hands of government is an even greater threat to our freedom and our security than anything a terrorist organization can proffer. The opportunity for abuse by a government willing to use it against its political opposition is glaring.

“Freedom and justice cannot be parceled out in pieces to suit political convenience. I don’t believe you can stand for freedom for one group of people and deny it to others.”  -Coretta Scott King

What is happening downtown even as I write this is horrifying and made all the more so because my wife is in the middle of it. I am more than just worried about her. I am left feeling helpless to do anything to protect her. The downtown core is in lockdown and I can’t even drive down to pick her up and bring her home.

But having admitted to the fear that this senseless act has brought into our lives, I remain even more afraid of those who would hand over to government, the very protections that guarantee our freedom and our way of life. It is more frightening that many who are advocating it are conservatives.

The real threat of terrorism is not the these horrific acts of violence but rather what many are prepared to give up in response to them. Our way of life is under attack and as much from those who would trade away our freedoms and rights, for the illusion of security as it is from terrorism.

A free people need to remain vigilant and to remember that it is more difficult to reclaim freedoms that have been lost than it is to defend those you already have.

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© 2014 Maggie’s Bear

all rights reserved The written content of this article is the sole property of Maggie’s Bear but a link to it may be shared by those who think it might be of interest to others

Twitter: @maggsbear – Facebook: Maggie’s Bear  – ivmaki@sympatico.ca

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  • charlie98

    Coincidence? 2 radicalized individuals have their passports revoked and start killing soldiers in Canada. Clearly this is a hint that you are being watched and, assuming you are committed to terrorism, forces you to action within Canada. Anyone else think we should encourage these individuals to leave and go to where they might well be killed?

    The RCMP have admitted that they are powerless until the potential terrorist does something illegal. New tactics to get these people off our streets need to be employed.

    • MaggiesBear

      It is an illegal act in Canada to go abroad to join with recognized terrorist groups or to join with forces fighting Canada’s allies. The law is there and exists. If law enforcement is not invoking the law at the time it revokes passports, providing it with even more laws to ignore will not change much.

      • charlie98

        Until they go and actually join who’s to say they will. One of these men wanted to go to Turkey. Turkey is a member of NATO, not a terrorist organization. Wanting to do something and actually doing it are two different things.

        I repeat, let them go. Don’t let them back in once they’ve left if you can prove they were involved in any way with a terrorist organization.

  • morri

    something that bothers me is the inability of Canadians to understand who our current enemies are. I doubt very much that an un controlled immigration of german Nazis would have been allowed during the second world war, yet the circumstances regarding islam are much the same. we are at war but refuse to recognize it even when our military has been in afganistan, and are currently going to confront isis. soldiers are now being killed in Canada yet we are not supposed to be at war. shall we reduce the freedom of those who would kill us or shall we have them succeed and completely take our freedom from us? the choice will not be an easy one but a choice will have to be made.

    • MaggiesBear

      Your points are worth consideration but I would suggest that the comparison between Nazis and Muslims is inaccurate. We wouldn’t have allowed Nazis to immigrate into Canada and we shouldn’t allow radical Islamists in either but the vast majority of Muslims are not terrorists. It is Kurdish Muslims who are fighting IsiL on the ground in Kobane and Iraq. They are our allies. Should we ban the immigration of Kurds? Likewise, our allies include Egyptian, Jordanian and Iraqi Muslims. Should they also be banned? I believe the problem is less that Canadians don’t know who the enemy is than it is that a majority of Canadians are unwilling to stereotype all Muslims based on the actions of a sizable minority. That’s too close to the stereotyping that bot the Canadian and American governments applied when they rounded up citizens of Japanese descent during the War in the Pacific.

      Giving into fear is the first step in destroying the very values upon which your society is built and it is fear that clouds the thinking of too many and that boils enemies down to stereotypes that usually include far more innocent people than those who would do us harm.

      • morri

        the comparison is accurate because they are enemies even more dangerous than the Nazis were. if the kurds are Islamic, yes. if the Egyptians are Islamic, yes. Jordanian, yes. Iraqi, yes. all followers of islam. period. no question end of discussion. you are an intelligent man, please read the Koran the hadiths and any other so called Islamic teaching you can find. there is nothing in it that is of value. they are supposed to kill all non believers, at least those that they cannot enslave. it is a fact. jeez, what is wrong with Canadians?

        • MaggiesBear

          My wife was in lockdown yesterday with a Muslim immigrant from Iran; a man who has been a Canadian citizen for more than twenty years and who was just as afraid of Islamic radicalism as she is. The condemnation of an entire group of people because of the actions of a few is fear elevated to paranoia. We’ve had Muslims living among us for almost as long as we have been a country. We have Muslims sitting in Parliament and provincial legislatures. In Ottawa, last year’s United Way campaign was co-chaired by two Canadians – one Jewish, one Muslim. And last week in Toronto, it was an the Muslim congregation of a local mosque that came to the financial aid of a Jewish sinagogue facing bankruptcy. There are over 1 million Muslims in Canada — if they were all terrorists, this country would already be in flames.

          • morri

            I had muslim neighbours and they did not talk to us would not associate with us and kept their children away from all we infidels. when they were not in school they could not leave the house. when each and every one of those muslims stands up and is willing to fight their fellow muslims and they are willing to sit down with me and not practice taqiyya then maybe I will accept them. read the freaking koran. you sir are doing what all western dhimmis do, justify by virtue of your cultural background. people cannot be evil because they are just like us. they are not.

    • charlie98

      the latest terrorist is not an immigrant. Mosques and the internet appear to be effective in the radicalization process. Spending time in jail and meeting like-minded individuals works as well.

      Uncontrolled immigration might be an issue but it is hardly the only one.

      • morri

        without islamic immigration please explain to me how he would have encountered islam.

        • charlie98

          access to the internet and ideas thereon do not require immigration.

          encountering Islam without immigration is as easy as a Canadian-born citizen travelling and encountering Islam on those travels and then returning to Canada

          ideas don’t have borders

          • morri

            so he went to a mosque on line? no he did not. apathy and denial will kill us. read what is happening around the world. the followers of islam are killing people everywhere. only a fool could possibly think it cannot happen in Canada. this will get worse with the simple minded attitude that the average Canadian has.

            • charlie98

              I get it, this is actually our fault because Canadians are apathetic, in denial and simple. Presumably you’re above all that.

              It’s easy to say there’s a problem. I suggest you figure out how to solve this problem, propose a solution and then work towards implementing your solution.

              The danger for you is that your proposed solution just might suggest that you are as simple as the rest of us, or at least as simple as you perceive us to be.

              • morri

                good God your circular logic is distressing. we know what has to be done but spineless liberal socialists will not do it. I sincerely hope the next casualty is not someone close to you. that might open your eyes but I doubt it. also, stop calling the current government conservative.

                • charlie98

                  You seem to know what needs to be done, everyone but me apparently knows but I confess to not knowing.

                  Enlighten me as my simple mind clearly has yet to see what is obvious to you

    • Devin Ens

      Have you not noticed that all of Canada’s terrorists come from the one province that does not believe in multiculturalism? Your reasoning is seriously flawed.

      • morri

        please check what is happening around the world with the followers of islam.

      • MaggiesBear

        That isn’t true. Home-grown terrorists both past and present as well as many others on the watch list have come from many provinces including Quebec, Ontario and Alberta.

        • Devin Ens

          You’re right. I should have said “Canada’s most successful terrorists.”