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by Alan L. Chrisman
Im writing this from Ottawa, Canadas capitol, a couple days after a shooter killed
a soldier next to the War Memorial and then attacked the Canadian Parliament
buildings. Many have said this is when Canada lost its innocence.
I dont often write about politics (although I sometimes comment about social
effects), preferring to try and change things through music and art.
Understandably, Canadians are still in shock and upset. And as when it happened
in the U.S. with 9/11, people are reacting emotionally, waving flags, and calling
for more security and surveillance. And like then, there will be politicians waiting
to exploit this upset.
But as, perhaps in the Ebola scare (where doctors have now said the biggest fear
is fear itself), things must be kept in perspective. Some have tried to characterize
the shooter, for example, as a Muslim extremist (he was a convert to Islam, but
was born in Canada). But more information is becoming available about him: He
was also a cocaine and heroin addict and had several criminal offenses. At one
point, he even tried to rob a McDonalds in Vancouver with only a stick so hed get
put in jail, he had said then, to force himself to kick his drug habit. He clearly was
a very disturbed person and a portrait is emerging, more of a loner, with a history
of problems, closer perhaps to several of the school shooters in the U.S. He also,
as far we can tell, came from a good home; his mother had a high-level Canadian
Immigration government job, and he came from a decent family, although his
parents were divorced. His mother hadnt seen him for 5 years, except the week
before the tragic incident, for lunch.
There had been a hit and run killing of another Canadian soldier with a car in
Quebec, a couple days earlier, by a Muslim sympathizer, so some are trying to
connect the two. But people, who had talked with the Parliament attacker at a
homeless shelter where he had stayed in Ottawa the past couple weeks, said he
told them he was in Ottawa, from Vancouver, to try and get a passport to go Syria
or maybe Libya, where his father had been from. In fact, the Canadian
government had been holding up his passport, because they wondered if he
might have been a security risk. So the Canadian authorities already knew about
him (although they didnt think he was dangerous). And he may have resorted to
this desperate act partly, out of anger, over that.
He might well have just been, as one former FBI profiler described it, a misfit and
copycat killer, who had latched on to radical religion, to try and justify his drug
habit and personal problems. We will probably never know, as with so many of
these mentally-confused people, what exactly were their motivations, if any. We
cant understand irrational individuals and acts, so we too often look for re-
assuring easy answers.
But thats not the picture, the media and politicians are presenting to an insecure
public. Like in the U.S., there are calls for more guns and guards and giving the
intelligence services more far-reaching eavesdropping powers. He was killed by
an armed guard at the Parliament buildings, who bravely, defended the Prime
Minister and Members of Parliament and staff. The soldier, who sadly died, was
ceremoniously guarding the War Memorial, but had been unarmed. But more
guns and security even may not prevent someone, clearly bent on the destruction
of others or himself, from carrying out these kind of attacks. The U.S. White
House, has been breached already 7 times this year alone, despite being one of
the most guarded places.
The present Canadian Conservative government will, no doubt, try to use this
latest incident to push through legislation for tougher security and surveillance.
The Conservatives, had right before this, because of their majority status, been
able to send Canadian warplanes to fight ISIS in Iraq (although its unclear
whether most Canadians really wanted that). The Conservatives had sent soldiers
to Afganistan, despite the earlier Liberal government not sending Canadian troops
to Iraq. Obama (despite not intervening in Syria and saying he wouldnt allow
chemical weapons- we dont hear much about if Assad really is complying with
that, in the media, these days), and now Canada too, is back once again in that
quagmire. It will be hard for even the opposition parties in Canada to resist in this
mood of fear.
Canadian Remembrance Day for war veterans is coming up November 11 and
there will be calls for supporting soldiers and the military, much as there was for
the First Responders and U.S. military after 9/11. George Bush exploited that
mood in America, and intelligence budgets blossomed and privacy rights were
lessened. Edward Snowden revealed that at one time, the NSA wanted every
device sold to the public, to be secretly outfitted with eavesdropping
capabilities (and they almost got it!).
So things, as I say, should be kept in perspective. This killer, appears to have been
more of a disturbed lone gunman, more influenced by personal demons and with
religious leanings. There could well be more lone wolf copycat attempts, as
there was after the school shootings (there was the following day, reports of an
attack on two NYC policeman with a hatchet, which they again have called
terrorism, although his friends said he more just hated police and whites). But
all the emotional calls for more guns and tougher public surveillance laws should
be tempered in an atmosphere of public unease. The medias and politicians
own agendas should be examined too. But all the flag waving and
understandable emotional outpourings, now in Canada too, brought up by this
senseless act, arent necessarily going to solve the problem.
In that sense, yes, Canada has lost its innocence.


IMAGINE by John Lennon
Imagine theres no countries
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living Life in Peace
Watch below Lennons words of wisdom: