Today, a tragedy.
A lone gunman, driven by a perverted religious message or insanity, or both, attacked our Parliament buildings. A soldier, whose sole infraction was to be guarding our National War Memorial, is dead.
To his family, of course, go the condolences of an entire nation.
But soon after our nation relaxes again, and it will, we will face a choice.
We actually already do.
In times such as this, we will be tempted to fall into xenophobia, islamophobia, overreaction, and the sacrifice of our liberal values.
Unfortunately, in many ways, America stands as an example of what not to do.
After 9/11 (this is not Canada's 9/11 most certainly), America has undertaken unique steps. It's undermined the freedom of its citizenry through spying (Canada has started down this road too), sacrificed its morals in interrogations, and stumbled into Iraq. America's reputation is damaged and its actions in Iraq have disrupted the entire Middle East with still unknown results. Hardly any attack could've damaged America the way that America's overreaction has.
Now is the time to ensure Canada does not fall into the same trap.
Stephen Harper has not been the greatest Prime Minister. Sometimes too conservative, sometimes not conservative enough and oftentimes willing to substitute research with ideology, his legacy is so far mixed. And he has certainly not followed Canada's general tradition of peacekeeping and bridge building in foreign affairs. Though his recent decision to join the fight against ISIS was controversial, he was right. But now he must be measured. The conservative instinct to react, often on base instinct rather than consideration, must be avoided. Security should be assured and this crisis must be allowed to pass. Then deep discussions about poverty, immigration, Islam and Canadian identity must be undertaken. Today may be his biggest test.
I just hope that, in years from now, we don't see a Canada that sacrificed its open and tolerant culture over fear. I hope that we don't destroy the very thing that these religio-fascists are seeking to destroy.
Let's not allow today's already horrible tragedy to turn into a much more dangerous one. Let's remember that many Muslims are Canadians and many Canadians are Muslims and that military actions or police maneuvers are not always the answer -- in fact they hardly ever are.