AuthorCraig Forcese; Kent Roach
The October 2014 Attacks
On  October , Martin C outure-Rouleau drove his car into two uni-
formed members of the Canadian Armed Forces, killing Warrant Ocer
Patrice Vincent. Authorities had seized Couture-Rouleau’s passport that
summer, in order to stop the recent convert to Islam from leaving Canada
to ght with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Nevertheless, he had
not been arrested or charged under new terrorism oences that Canada en-
acted in  to penalize those who attempted to leave Canada to participate
in foreign terrorist groups. Nor did authorities restrict his liberties with an
anti-terror peace bond (a form of restraining order).
Two days later, Michael Zehaf-Bibeau — whose passport application had
also been delayed within the government for reasons that remain unclear —
murdered Corporal Nathan Cirillo, a soldier who was standing ceremonial
guard at the National War Memorial. Zehaf-Bibeau red three shots from
his long gun into the back of the defenseless Corporal Cirillo. Incredibly,
and despite intelligence issued a few days before about increased threats of
terrorism, Zehaf-Bibeau was then able to enter the Centre Block of the Par-
liament building where the prime minister, the leader of the opposition, and
some  members of Parliament were in caucus meetings. He wounded the
unarmed parliamentary guard who had tried to disarm him before he was
killed by Sergeant-at-Arms Kevin Vickers and RCMP ocers.
Legislating in Fearful and Politicized Times
Canadians a nd their political representatives were united in their shock and
grief at these attacks. But only for a time. Prime Minister Harper introduced
Bill C- in an election-style rally on  January . He defended the legis-
lation on the basis that “violent jihadism is not a human right. It is an act of
war, and our government’s new legislation fully understands the dierence.”
e bill made the most far-reaching changes to Canadian security laws since
/. Bill C- was introduced not only in response to the October  at-
tacks, but also as a politica l reaction to terrorist attacks in Janua ry  in
Paris and Copenhagen. ose attacks targeted the Jewish community and
those perceived to have insulted Islam, most famously the French satirica l
newspaper Charlie Hebdo.
e cold Canadian winter of  was then beset by secu rity fears. Police
charged two people with conspiracy to commit murder on Valentine’s Day
and alleged that t hey had planned to shoot people in a Halifax mall. Mini ster
of Justice MacKay stated that this was not an act of terrorism because of the
absence of a “cultural” element, a peculiar t urn of phrase given the absence
of such a concept in the law. For some, it was a coded phrase suggesting a
double standard for Islamic-related terrorism, but the arrests aroused more
fear. A week later, al-Shabaab, the al-Qaida-linked Somali terrorist group,
issued threats to shopping malls, including the West Edmonton Mall. is
led to thirty-ve teams withdrawing from a cheerleading competition, one
that was fortunately sti ll held without incident and with , competitors.
is al-Shabaab th reat was cited by government politicians as an indication
of the need to enact Bill C- in a hurry and was reproduced in part in a
Conservative part y fundraising video.
In March , Jahanzeb Mali k, a permanent resident, was arrested
and held in immigration detention pending his subsequent deportation to
Pakistan. He had al legedly told an undercover ocer of plans to bomb the
American consulate in Toronto and that he had trained in Libya and was
interested in joining ISIS. He reportedly told the undercover ocer that it
was legitimate to attack ta xpaying Canadia ns because of Canada’s role in
bombing ISIS. Other developments included a mysterious tunnel near a To-
ronto Pan Am Games venue that turned out to be a “man cave” and a white
powder sent to federal ministers from Quebec that turned out to be innocu-
ous. Nevertheless, these incidents also ra ised the fear level. As a resu lt, Bill
C- was debated and enacted in a fea rful and politica lized environment.
Public opinion polls suggested that over  percent of Canadians supported
Bill C- in Februar y . is support declined as Canadians debated the
bill, with a slim majority of those who closely followed the debate actual ly
opposing the bill. But Canadians were scared a nd they wanted to be safe.

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT