The murder of the CAF member in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu by an avowed ISIS sympathizer had political implications, and within minutes. Yesterday, the Prime Minister stood in the House of Commons to speak about the terrible event – even before the rest of us knew it had happened – and explicitly linked it to terrorism.
“The individual who struck the two CAF members (Canadian Armed Forces) with his car is known to federal authorities, including the Integrated National Security Enforcement Team,” PMO later said in a written statement issued Monday evening. “Federal authorities have confirmed that there are clear indications that the individual had become radicalized.”
All that may be true, but all of us should be profoundly uncomfortable that any politician would be speaking about this tragedy – and assigning motive – before the police. That is not the way our system works. And it raises the distinct possibility that Harper and his advisors are willing to reduce a soldier’s death to a talking point.
If that’s true, then we are piloting through some very dangerous waters, indeed. In the aftermath of the (strikingly similar) May 2013 murder of British Army soldier, Fusilier Drummer Lee Rigby of the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, British public opinion became dangerously inflamed.
English hate groups, like the English Defence League (which, by the by, is partnered with the Jewish Defence League here in Canada) used Rigby’s murder to whip up support. There were riots and violent street clashes, and dozens of arrests. Anti-Muslim sentiment exploded.
The Prime Minister and his government have a responsibility to (a) let the police do their job (b) ensure public opinion isn’t needlessly inflamed (c) resist the temptation to politicize a soldier’s death.
Will they do any of those things? Don’t hold your breath.
As someone once said, we live in dangerous times.