While Canada – like most other Western nations – has been watchful of the threat of terrorism in the post 9/11 world, the country had not seen terror attacks – until, apparently, this week. Moments after the Quebec incident on Monday, where the two members of the military were hit by a car, a Conservative backbencher – a low-ranking Member of Parliament (MP) – was given a scripted question about the attack to ask Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who immediately spoke of (unconfirmed reports of) a terror attack, before the details of what had transpired had fully emerged. While reports have emerged that the perpetrator had recently become radicalized, the Canadian media have been cautious in reporting on this issue as “possible” terrorism. Today’s attack, which is still unfolding as this is being written, is of a much different nature and will certainly cause Canadians to rethink their analysis of what happened on Monday.
These new attacks – and the daunting reality that Canadians are now a target for terrorism – will support the government’s position that these domestic and foreign policies are necessary and justified. Of course, many will ask whether the decision to join the fight against ISIS and the posturing against radical Islam will have created the conditions for radicalized individuals to commit these crimes. When the guns quiet down, there will be a very important debate in Canada about how to handle the delicate balance between civil liberties and the – now very real – threat of terror in the country.