Canada learned this week that it is not immune from the scourge of Islamist terrorism. First a Canadian military officer was killed when his vehicle was run off the road by a terrorist in Quebec. On Wednesday, an Islamist terrorist Canadian, who chose to radicalize himself, killed a Canadian soldier serving as an honor guard at Canada’s War Memorial just across the street from the grandiose Chateau Laurier Hotel in Ottawa. This terrorist then successfully entered the nearby Canadian Parliament on a day when parliamentarians were having their party meetings. In fact this terrorist passed right by the room where the governing Conservative Party of Canada and its Prime Minister Stephen Harper were meeting. It was truly providential that the parliamentary Sergeant-at-Arms used his gun to kill the terrorist.
Several hours of uncertainty ensued as Canadian authorities locked down the Parliament for several hours before allowing employees and parliamentarians to return home. That evening Prime Minister Harper, a steady pair of hands and a statesman with a realistic understanding of human nature and international security trends, rightly announced that Canada had been a victim of a terrorist attack. This tragedy occurred just two weeks after the Canadian House of Commons voted to participate in air strikes, but not ground attacks, against the Islamic State in Iraq.
Canadian forces have done a good job serving in Afghanistan. Initially sent by a Liberal Government over a decade ago Canadian military personnel have lost 150 men killed in this conflict which we as Americans should honor and respect. Canada has been an ally to the U.S. in most of our major conflicts including World Wars I, II, and Korea.
Unfortunately, a strain of utopian idealism has characterized Canadian foreign policy and national security policymaking for the past several decades. This was particularly pronounced during the governments of Liberal Prime Ministers Lester Pearson (1963-1968) and Pierre Trudeau (1968-1979, 1980-1984). Pearson was a Nobel Peace Prize winner for negotiating agreements between Israeli and Egyptian forces in the Sinai Peninsula. Both Pearson and Pierre Trudeau maintained a childlike faith that international organizations like the United Nations were the only way to achieve international peace and that they should transcend the authority of national governments. Both of these leaders promoted the delusion of Canada as a peaceful kingdom that should not “sully” itself with international conflicts.
Even though Canada has had expansive territorial and rhetorical claims in the Arctic Ocean competing with the U.S. and the Soviet Union/Russian Federation, it has never put its money where its mouth is and backed up its claims with enhanced military spending and a credible military force in the Arctic. This has changed somewhat under Stephen Harper’s Conservative Government which has been in power since 2006. However, even this more intelligent government still is not committing sufficient resources to make its military a significant and credible Atlantic and Arctic power.
Canada’s ability to understand the ugly and bloody realities of Islamist terror has also been compromised by the multi decade long cult of multiculturalism which has enfeebled Canadian political debate for several decades. Some change has occurred under the Harper Government which now refers to its military branches by using the British derived phrase “royal” to describe individual armed service branches, by having their Department of Canadian Heritage seek to inculcate pride in Canadian History into educational curriculum, and by changing the name of the Hull, Quebec-based Canadian Museum of Civilization to the Canadian Museum of History.
However, much of academe and the Canadian cultural cognoscenti, headed by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, still adheres to the ideological delusions of secular leftist internationalism. These scions of the Canadian left are enthusiastic supporters of Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau, Pierre’s son, who is an intellectual lightweight yet leads in some public opinion polls as Canada faces a federal election in about a year. This is the case even though the Harper Government has done a generally good job in keeping Canada relatively less damaged from the global economic recession and has been a strong supporter of Israel. Unfortunately, many Canadians hold a prepubescent fascination with the Trudeau’s in a way comparable to the liberal American establishment infatuation with the Kennedy’s.
Hopefully, Canadians will soon be able to visit their Parliament and have access to their representatives without undue security restrictions. However, Canada’s Parliament must drastically improve its security. A 2012 report by Canada’s Auditor-General noted that four different security forces had responsibility for parliamentary security. This must be consolidated into one entity with liberal rules of engagement. Above all, Canadians should realize that this week’s events demonstrate the end of “peaceful kingdom mythology” and force them to realize that they are an intimate part of the global struggle against Islamist terrorism and that stern resolve and unflinching reality must mark their attitudes toward this phenomenon for decades to come.