The Prime Minister was delivering an apocalyptic warning to his country. Like an ancient Hebrew prophet, Stephen Harper conjured a satanic spectre: "A great evil has been descending over our world, an evil that has been growing more and more powerful." This ogre is "violent jihadism ... one of the most dangerous enemies our world has ever faced."
Harper was speaking with the conviction that comes from personal experience. After all, he had only recently emerged from the closet where he hid while a "violent jihadist" was gunned down by the parliamentary Sergeant-at-Arms. Out of the closet, he had morphed into the Avenging Angel, and he had a lethal weapon of his own: Bill C-51, The Anti-terrorism Act 2015. But what is this weapon pointed at?
Last year, a mentally disturbed young man in Moncton, Jason Bourque, who had conceived a violent antipathy to police, without provocation shot and killed three RCMP officers. This was terrible, but it was, by common consent, a law enforcement problem resolved by the police who arrested Bourque and the courts that sentenced him to 75 years in prison.
A few months later, another mentally disturbed, sometimes crack-addled young man, Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, armed with a 19th-century vintage hunting rifle, shot and killed Nathan Cirillo, a young soldier peacefully standing guard at the National War Memorial in Ottawa, then shot his way into the Centre Block of Parliament before his own violent demise. That too was terrible, and apparently something far worse than a mere law enforcement problem: a "great evil descending over our world."
Besides frightening the Prime Minister into a closet, how exactly did Bibeau differ from Bourque? Bourque just hated cops, while Bibeau had attached his personal demons to extremist Islamist gibberish and to a trendy brand name, Islamic State, to which this generation of violent wingnuts happens to be attracted. A few years down the road, the next generation of Bibeaus may be invoking the Global Movement to Liberate Chickens from Factory Farms. But today the words Islamic State are a trigger setting off Apocalypse Now.
To be sure, there is a real force calling itself the Islamic State that is armed to the teeth, ruthless, cruel and a genuine threat: to Syria, Iraq and the Middle East. To Canada, not so much. There have been attacks here, including another soldier tragically killed in Quebec, and other plots apprehended and disrupted by good police work. But there is no credible...