Terror incidents in Quebec, Ottawa touches all Canadians
By Patrick Vaillancourt, Senior Columnist
Formerly published in The Other Press. October 27, 2014
On the morning of October 22, my phone got awfully busy with Twitter notifications: alerts from news networks. Everything seemed to be abuzz, and the peace that was 7 a.m. in Vancouver was halted with the headline: Terrorist strikes Parliament Hill. It would be the second “terrorist” act last week, but the latter one would make headlines worldwide because it struck at the very heart of Canada’s democracy. This wasn’t a simple shooting, but an act of aggression against every citizen of this country and the shared values that make us distinctly Canadian.
I share with all Canadians a sentiment of anger, disbelief, and sadness at these events. Our hearts go out to the families and friends of those killed in last week’s attacks: Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent of Quebec and Corporal Nathan Cirillo of Ontario.
While many in the world have commented that, in comparison to other terror attacks around the world, the events of last week constitute a mild attack, such a distinction doesn’t comfort Canadians, nor does it bring our soldiers back. As bad as the deaths of our two uniformed military men were, I’m glad it wasn’t any worse—and it could have been much worse.
The attack on Parliament Hill, for example, was exceptionally bold. The gunman was less than 50 yards away from the committee rooms being occupied by the federal political parties for their weekly caucus meetings. All of our elected officials, the Prime Minister included, would have been walking the same halls roamed by the gunman only one hour later, once the caucus meetings were concluded.
It’s in times like these that our vast country seems to shrink, where people from Vancouver Island to the Maritimes share in the anguish felt by those in the country’s heartland. The outpouring of emotion was as real on the streets of Victoria as it was in the streets of Ottawa, and I, having adopted Vancouver as my home 11 years ago, was all-too-mindful of the day’s events in Ottawa—it happens to be my hometown.
But it’s also in times like these that people tend to unjustly seek someone or some group to blame. Canadians should come together, understanding that included in the Canadian family are persons of various background and ethnicities, of differing faiths and creeds. These events were perpetrated by two men hell-bent on causing death and destruction and ruled by hate. They conveniently invoke their own bastardized version of Islam to rationalize their activities. We must reflect carefully, understanding that Islam didn’t kill our soldiers—two sociopaths did.
We’re a nation of diversity, and we all call Canada home because we share in its ideals. As we continue to process this heinous act, let’s remember to keep our country’s values of diversity and tolerance in mind. Let us, as Warrant Officer Vincent and Corporal Cirillo have for us, stand on guard for each other.