LETTER: Balancing rights and safety

How we react to this threat will say volumes about Canadians

Cpl. Nathan Cirillo and Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent were not the only casualties of terror in Canada last week.

A nation’s innocence died as Canadians unwillingly became part of international terror on our own soil.

RCMP were already monitoring 90 people, including one of the two men who killed Canadian soldiers in sudden, unprovoked attacks.

Security will increase as the terrorist attacks play into the existing law-and-order agenda of the governing Conservatives.

More surveillance cameras is a given. Beefed-up security at airports and border crossings is inevitable.

Who but the most ardent civil libertarians would oppose such measures when all signs point toward more terrorism within Canada?

Last month, the spokesman for the Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham called for attacks on Canadians.

Abu Muhammad Al-Adnani urged ISIS supporters to kill Canadians, Americans, Australians, French and other Europeans whether they are members of the military or civilians.

Extra security to defend against such attacks will be expensive.

Canadians will lose some civil liberties in a tradeoff for feeling, and hopefully being, safer.

How far will the pendulum swing? How much will our country change from its reputation as a peacemaker?

The most disturbing aspect of both incidents is that both killers were Canadians.

Perhaps the most insidious aspect of terrorism is that radicalized fanatics can walk among us undetected, especially if they are Canadian citizens.

Besides whatever increase in domestic suspicion that would naturally occur, this cannot help but raise intolerance toward anyone in this country with an odd name, suspicious accent or swarthy skin.

This will provide an excuse for anyone already inclined toward intolerance, outright racism or paranoia.

Finding a healthy balance in the times that will come will not be easy. Maybe we were just fooling ourselves, content with our international reputation as the nice guys in the long shadow of our U.S. neighbours.

Still, nothing unites a people like an external threat, and we could come out of this more united.

How we react to this threat will say volumes about Canadians. The trick will be protecting ourselves from fanatics without becoming extremists ourselves.

Mark Allan

Courtenay

 

Mark Allan is a former Black Press editor, now retired.