Reflections on a violent day in Ottawa

The murder of a young Canadian reservist and the Parliamentary shootout that followed was shocking because of its seemingly out-of-the-blue.


The murder of a young Canadian reservist and the Parliamentary shootout that followed was shocking because of its seemingly out-of-the-blue nature.

But rather than viewing the tragic events last week as a wake-up call to seriously examine Canada’s negative role on the world stage and its war in Iraq, we got references to the “loss of innocence” and pronouncements that “things will never be the same.”

The events have understandably had a congealing effect on Parliamentarians who shared a trauma together.

But the shooting is already being used as an excuse for greater militarization and as justification for the war against ISIS, not to mention for “strengthening” our laws in the area of “surveillance, detention and arrest.”

Coincidentally, last Wednesday was also supposed to be the Harper government’s opportunity to unleash a new round of legislative measures designed to give CSIS and the RCMP even more freedom to monitor people overseas and take part in extraordinary rendition programs. After last week’s events, what opposition leader who wants to appear prime-ministerial would feel comfortable saying no to such an agenda?

We don’t know much about the shooter, but media have been quick to point out he was a recent convert to Islam.

When Prime Minster Stephen Harper addressed the nation, his discourse was unchanged from his bellicose rumblings spoken before the Parliamentary vote to bomb Iraq and Syria: “Canada will never be intimidated… redouble our efforts… savagery… no safe haven….”

While Canadian soldiers have been told to stay indoors and not show themselves in public in uniform, Muslims or those perceived as ones may have second thoughts about being out in public, too.

I have to wonder if this direct experience of fear and trauma will force us to examine our own addiction to violence as the solution to conflict.

Matthew Behrens coordinates the Homes Not Bombs non-violent direct action network. A longer version of this column appeared at rabble.ca.

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