Stephen Harper on sociology, radicalization and terrorism -

Stephen Harper on sociology, radicalization and terrorism

The Prime Minister’s response to a question about root causes


From the Prime Minister’s news conference this afternoon, his response to a question about the radicalization of young men and when it would be okay to discuss root causes.

Look, I think that in terms of radicalization this is obviously something we follow. Our security agencies work with each other and with others around the globe to track people who are threats to Canada and to watch threats that may evolve. I think though … this is not a time to commit sociology, if I can use an expression. It’s time to treat this.

These things are serious threats, global terrorist attacks, people who have agendas of violence that are deep and abiding threats to all the values that our society stands for. I don’t think we want to convey any view to the Canadian public other than our utter condemnation of this kind of violence, contemplation of this violence and our utter determination through our laws and through our activities to do everything we can to prevent it and counter it.


Stephen Harper on sociology, radicalization and terrorism

  1. It seems asking why, is a tantamount to complicity in SH’s narrow little world.. Unless you happen to be him or a member of of his govt.

    There are whole departments[edit: within govt, security institutions] dedicated to finding out why as well as when n how in all major countries, including i’m sure Canada. Harper knows this, but the man’s the ultimate political opportunist. Luckily Harper is only a very small fish in a large pond.

    • And what are ‘whole departments dedicated to finding out”?

      Justin is trying to search for the root causes as to why people feel excluded. Harper, and other governments around the world, are not looking for root causes as to why people feel excluded, but are thinking about security, how to work together with security institutions around the world. None of the worldly leaders, including Harper, are of the opinion that we should leave the impression that we are looking for anything else other than trying to find the people who are working against what we stand for.

      Read Harper’s words as quoted above. Listen to Joe Byden when he gave his speech yesterday.

      • Or Obama, or the British PM…can’t be bothered to check them all…whatever you say Francien.

        • Yes, I have checked that out.

          Obama and Cameron have NOT said that they will search for root causes in regards why people feel excluded.

          Such search remains Justin’s and Justin’s alone. Too bad Justin has not told us yet what those root causes might be.

          In the meantime, the CPC government and other governments around the world are looking most seriously how they can make cooperation between security institutions stronger. I hope they will succeed in that quest.

          Have you heard what Justin has found so far what the root cause(s) might be in regards to terrorists feeling excluded?

          • Why should I shut up about what? I should shut up because you don’t like me bringing up the subject of Justin searching for root causes in regards to people feeling excluded?

            Why are you trying to exclude me? Why are you asking me to shut up? To exclude me? And would that not be considered a root cause by Justin as to why I would feel excluded? Would you then not be the ‘root cause’ as to why I would feel excluded?

            Who else would you want to exclude? All those who seem to annoy you? Would you want to make them feel excluded? Tell, me, please, how will Justin’s search end? I am anxious to know, as are many others. I wish Justin would explain himself better and I wish commentators such as Wells and O’Malley and Solomon would admit that it was only Justin who said we should search for root causes as to why people feel excluded! Don’t pretend Justin did not say that because he did say it.

          • Why is it a problem to investigate the root causes of terrorism? Terrorism is hard to fight. It’s asymmetric warfare. So, an effective way of addressing it is to deal with what motivates the commission of acts of terror. This should not be controversial to reasonable people. Those who picked up on this are just bloody-minded partisans who wanted to find a topic to bleat on about.

          • Ok, are you ready to debate this topic? If not then I will give you some piece of advise:

            finding root causes as to why people feel excluded (and yes, that is what Justin has been asking) cannot be done. Why can it not be done?

            Because every individual is different. Some will become feeling excluded because our society is too free. Others will become feeling excluded because our society is not free enough.

            Now, in which camp, when considering why people have become feeling excluded, would terrorist ‘a’ belong and in which camp would terrorist ‘b’ belong? Or are both subjects feeling excluded because they are both in agreement that our society is too free? Or are both subjects feeling excluded because they are both in agreement that our society is not free enough? Tell us how it works. What is the root cause in regards to feeling excluded?????????????

          • That’s rather defeatist. Better to accept that people are driven to kill us for ideological reasons? Just accept the growing police state as the price we pay for treating the symptoms rather than the disease?

          • What are you talking about? You try time and again to avoid the real issue.

            How to search for root causes as to why people feel excluded in order to stop terrorism is the topic under discussion. Why the need to avoid the topic when trying to debate the topic?

            What is so defeatist about telling Justin that no root cause can be found for why people feel excluded. There are simpy too many individual possibilities why people would feel excluded. That is the point! Everyone in life is saddled with the same question: Why are we here?

            Some have a difficult time accepting the struggle while others learn to cope with it. Why the difference? You tell me. How do you and I cope with life? How have we learned to cope with life? And why do some from one family turn out so completely different than someone else coming from the very same family???

          • Ah, I think your fixation is on the word ‘excluded’. I’m not sure why JT chose that particular way of expressing it. I think alienation is perhaps a better way of expressing it. Regardless, I think any reasonable observer would understand what he said to mean root cause of what drives people to terrorism. I don’t think JT is only interested in ‘exclusion’ root causes.
            I’m a bit puzzled as to why you are focusing on this point. The CPC seems to have been attacking JT for speaking about ‘root causes’, whether they have anything to do with exclusion or not.

          • Why the need for you to try and change what Justin has said? Why are so many others trying to do just that? Today on P&P, Solomon was at it again, trying to convince us that Justin’s words should not be repeated as said by Justin?

            Why all this need to try and hide what in fact Justin has said?

            It won’t work this time around. That is why I believe that Harper and the CPC government is trying to make themselves crystal clear, in that the government’s and Harper’s position is completely different than what Justin believes. There is no need to change Justin’s story. There is a need for Justin to come clean or clarify himself. What does he have to hide? Why does he not want you and others to keep talking about the words spoken by him? Did Justin make a mistake?

          • I think I’ve already said that he ‘made a mistake’ by expressing his thought unclearly. For the rest, those are questions Trudeau might be able to answer, but I don’t know why you’re asking them here. He’s not likely reading these comments.

          • But is it not important for all of us to find out what Justin stands for, even if he is not reading these comment boards?

            I always thought these comment boards are for having free discussions as to what our political or other leaders are up to?

            Yes, I agree with you; Justin has made a mistake. And I think it would be better for him to make it clear to everyone that he did make a mistake, or at least clarify his position, because this will come to haunt him otherwise.

            Harper is a stickler for wanting to find reasonable arguments. The only way, in my opinion, for Justin to beat Harper in the next election, is to show he is more reasonable than Harper. But he has to show that by declaring what he stands for, not by telling us what he dislikes about Harper.

          • Maybe that’s where we disagree. I don’t think average Canadians will care about the nuance here. Casual observers would not, I think, find egregious fault with what JT said. It strikes me as nitpicking. Certainly nothing compared to his ‘Albertans should all go home’ gaffe.

          • I appreciate your comment. Interesting thoughts, for sure.

            And yes, I agree that we must disagree on those points. I think that it would be wise for Justin to try and rectify both gaffes; the root cause search as to why people feel excluded and the Alberta one, the other one of being excluded. Interesting how those two gaffes tell a lot of how Justin manages to lay claim to inconsistency within his own thinking…………………………….

          • As Emerson wrote, a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.
            And inconsistency would hardly be a point of differentiation between JT and his rivals. Harper has been all over the place on climate change policy, for instance, though you could probably ascribe that to shrewd duplicity rather than sincere changes of position

          • Yes, very good point to bring up Harper’s outlook on climate change policy! But not because of inconsistency. In no way can Harper’s view on climate change policy be pinned down on inconsistency of reasoning. Yes, he is ambivalent about climate change policy, but that is because, in my opinion, he is not yet convinced by reason as to what is the right course of action to take. If Harper was convinced by reason that climate change was as imminent as some try to make us believe, he would have acted in a resolute manner already.

            But as far as I can tell, Harper is not convinced, by reason, that climate change is that much of a threat (and perhaps spending money on adaptation is an option,ultimately) and he is not convinced, by reason, that certain actions are the correct ones to take. That is not to say that Harper does not believe in science; I am convinced that he does take science seriously. But I don’t think he has been convinced, by reason, that the verdict is clear enough. Harper will undoubtedly connect his next moves to that of the US, for reasons well understood.

          • I think you’re giving him too much credit. He’s spent the last 6 years ragging the puck on climate change, never intending to actually act. He has not been forthright with Canadians about his intention not to act. And now he is implementing sector-by-sector command-and-control regulation with the stated objective to reduce emissions. More likely it is just more puck ragging, with the primary goal of protecting his power base in the oil and gas sector from having to comply with onerous regulations, instead letting the burden fall on consumers through electricity prices, etc.

            I think Harper understands the science well-enough. He’s just not acting in the public interest, and rather in his narrower political interest. I mean, he’s resisting calls from the O&G sector to implement a carbon tax. And a carbon tax, well structured, is fairly benign instrument (as BC demonstrated). There are no dire costs that we have to be afraid of to begin to act, so there is no cause to pretend to wait until the science is settled. A carbon tax is reasonably good tax policy whether or not you are concerned about carbon emissions.

          • Fair enough. We must agree to disagree once more.

            What you are talking about is mostly conventional wisdom, for instance by saying that you think “Harper understands science well enough. He’s just not acting in the public’s interest, and rather in his narrower political interest.”

            Time will tell; I don’t believe that the majority of Canadians believed that Mulcair’s speech in Washington was the right direction other than being overly narrowed by ideology. And we have not heard anything of substance from Justin yet. Justin, too, will have to make a decision on climate change, eventually, whether he wants to or not. Will the voter then react in the same way, if Justin has no clear answer, as to say that therefore he is in the pockets of the oil industry, or will he be regarded as being in the pocket of Quebeckers! Beware; Canada is full of controversy for all leaders.

            But hey, that’s why we have elections.

          • You’re earning your pay today Francien!

          • Terrorists do not feel alienated, they do not want Western views contaminating their way of life. They only see Islam and ultra conservative islamic views as being correct and everything else as impure, toxic and a danger to their way of life. They have no intention of trying to get along or “agree to disagree”. JT going for a group hug, and singing kumbaya isn’t going to solve anything. He needs to grow up and get his head out of the clouds. These are dangerous people who will die for their cause and JT barely spent a moment on the victims of this violent act. He is way too inexperienced and wearing rose coloured glasses to be a PM of a country.

            Look at the uncut version of the question not the LIberal CBC’s version trying to make JT look less foolish and insensitive. After seeing the uncut footage their is no way I would vote this fool in. He can’t speak like a leader, “you know”, “like”, drama teacher, I expected him to be a much better speaker. Very disappointed. Shows how desperate the Liberal Party has become.

          • Somehow I doubt there was ever any danger of you voting liberal.

          • “Why should I shut up about what?”

            Exactly. Because. You wish.

    • Right. The Americans have been talking about nothing else for the past week.

  2. Apparently, in Stevie’s world, maintaining active vigilance and “committing sociology” are mutually exclusive. Cons are capable of doing one or the other, but not both.

  3. Wherry is now placing the root causes in quotation marks. Good for you Wherry; still trying to squeeze in the words ‘root causes’ when Harper is making a point, namely the point that he is not looking for root causes!

    But keep on trying Wherry! Within another comment, kcm2 says that “It seems asking why, is a tantamount to complicity in SH’s narrow little
    world.. Unless you happen to be him or a member of of his govt.”

    But who is trying to squeeze meaning here into the narrowest of spaces where none can be found? Well, that would be Wherry, of course, not Harper.

    All is fair play when trying to put Harper in his place, non?!

  4. In a time of economic turmoil it’s no time to commit economics …

    I’ll have to think about that ..

  5. of course Harper is right! If a Rabid Dog comes into my backyard – I shoot it! case closed then I start worrying about looking for the source – in other words folks what Harper says is right! who the heck cares about sociological issues of alienation and religious intolerance and or bla bla bla bla bla : the moment you start playing this game when faced with danger the sooner that you and yours are culled from the gene pool! The job of a PM is not to play touchy feely with our inner collective psyches the job of our PM – is to lead and protect – case closed!!! now you can argue this till the sows come home if you want and go ahead now thumb me down. However like Harper here I am right ! This is where Justin is making a huge mistake he is going the easy way and he will end up proving the point just like Dion proved to be his own worst enemy and just like Iggy who indeed was just visiting, never seen soemone abndon his party and country as fast as he did – like the next day poof!!!! gone !!!! so to willl JT be judged to be another empty suit with a talking head and a flair for being a drama queen as well !

    • Who let that dog get loose? Are there more coming? Am I safe now or is it just time to reload? Aren’t you supposed to vaccinate for rabies. Oh sorry, we don’t believe in vaccination.

      • How unpatriotic of you to think about anything other than the fact that there is a dog, and it must be stopped. You’re just a rabid-dog sympathizer.

        • Well at least through Francien we’re getting a stark reminder of how the mind of a Stephen Harper Conservative really works. Maybe she’s writing just a bit too much!

          • And ohhh, how that annoys you………..:))))

      • But that is not what Justin is talking about. Justin is talking about searching for root causes as to why people feel excluded.

        And as Wayne Young says:”who the heck cares about sociological issues of alienation and religious intolerance and or bla bla bla bla bla” because there is no end to such a search looking for root causes as to why people feel excluded or feel at war with the world.

        Justin made a great mistake. Not because he was interviewed in the heat of the Boston moment, but because Justin does NOT understand that searching for root causes as to why people feel excluded CANNOT be done with any degree of certainty, ever. People are all individuals. We all have lives to live. I may feel offended by your behaviour and therefore decide that enough is enough and now I would become a terrorist. How would you ever know why I would feel that way? Was it your fault I feel excluded?

        • This is the same argument for not doing anything about crime prevention by addressing root causes there. Who cares that reducing poverty and improving social mobility reduces crime? That’s just hug-a-thug, better to accept a higher crime rate and fill the prisons. That will teach those no-good scoundrels.

          • But why to the poor AND the rich commit crimes?

          • They tend to commit different crimes and at different rates.

            Your thinking reminds me of people who wonder why some non-smokers develop lung cancer.

          • Well, I scored one thumbs down on my post, so I must have said something right…. :))

    • Or if you have a bunch of cases of cholera in a city. You don’t investigate root causes, you just start leeching people and pile up the bodies.

      • Yes, let’s equate terrorism with a biological disease. We could cure terrorism if we just got them the proper treatment.

        And even in your terrible analogy, no, you don’t investigate the root causes, because the root causes of Cholera are well known. You find the source, and you quarantine.

        Same thing when you fall out of a tree and break your arm. You don’t sit around wondering why you fell out of the tree, you go to the hospital and get patched up.

        • Is that not identifying root cause?

          And not wondering why you fell out of a tree means you don’t learn how to prevent it from happening again. This time you only had a broken arm, maybe next time you will get a concussion, suffer spinal injury… But who cares: all that matters is the broken arm, not preventing future injury.

          • While you’re sitting under the tree contemplating how to prevent falling out of it again, you’re bleeding out because your not getting medical attention, which makes the whole “root causes” discovery process useless because you’ll be dead.

          • Are you incapable of walking and chewing gum at the same time? No one, including JT, suggested we do nothing to respond to the immediate threat of terrorist attacks. That’s just you being stupid, thinking you can trick anyone with strawmen.

          • Um, actually Trust Fund Trudeau was the one who said that he would be “contemplating root causes” in the aftermath of the attack, after sending condolences.

            No, he didn’t say “lets do nothing”. But he didn’t say he’d be trying to track down the attackers either. That, apparently, wasn’t even on his mind until Peter Mansbridge suggested it to him.

            You can infer and assume what you want about the “root causes” of Trudeau’s terrible response, but the video’s live on the internet for everybody to see. In the immediate aftermath of a terrorist attack, his main concern was not with ensuring public safety or catching the perpetrators.

          • So, you expect Canadian politicians to hop on a plane and start canvassing door-to-door in Boston?

            The condemnation, the saying ‘we must act’ is all just a bunch of meaningless platitudes. The condemnation goes without saying. And there is nothing a Canadian opposition politician can do in any way aid in the investigation. Maybe the terrified little children need to have the reassuring words uttered every time something like this happens, but the adults dispassionately go about looking for solutions.

          • A) Masbridge asked him what he would do “if he were Prime Minister”, not “as leader of the 3rd party in parliament”. Are you going to now suggest that there’s nothing the federal government can do to aid an investigation in Boston?

            After an attack like this, the government should be sending condolences, and whatever aid they can to help the investigation. A Liberal government under Trust Fund Trudeau would be sending condolences, and then trying to find out how they can criticize American society for encouraging such an attack.

            And of course, only children fear terrorism. Terrorists are like the boogy man, a fictional concept created in the mind of children. It’s not like there are thousands of terrorists out there who would attack Western nations at the drop of a hat. No, only children would think taht.

          • Terrorism is exactly like the boogeyman. That’s the point.

            Gun deaths, car accidents and air pollution have killed way more North Americans in the last 20 years than terrorists have. Like, orders of magnitude more.

        • Also, I have to wonder if you do any work in businesses where they do process improvement. Root cause analysis is a key component of continuous improvement. Anyone who has been exposed to continuous improvement should not be so suspicious of root cause analysis. This is used because sometimes you gut is wrong, and working solely on gut and instinct leads you to make disastrous errors.

          • Actually, 90% of my work involves business process improvement, thank you very much. And when we discover an issue that’s causing the process to fail, we don’t sit around looking for the ultimate cause of the failure, we find a quick solution that we can implement as quick as possible so business can continue. Once that’s been achieved, then you look at what “root causes” might be the source of the problem, and go from there.

            In other words, you find a solution to the problem currently at hand first, so that life can go on. Once you’ve got that done, then you can start finding what may have caused the initial problem.

          • Then why are you so opposed to finding root causes? You admit its necessary, if not sufficient. No one would disagree with you, and no one did. It’s a figment of your imagination.

          • Nobody has ever said that they’re opposed to finding root causes. It’s the fact that that would be Trust Fund Trudeau’s priority after an attack, before bringing the perpetrators to justice, before ensuring the public is safe.

            2 Hours after the attack, he’s asked “What would you do if you were Prime Minister?”, and his response wasn’t “find the SOBs who did this and bring them to justice”, or even “ensure public safety”. It was “I’d be looking at the root causes”.

          • Harper said: “When you see this kind of violent act, you do not […] figure out its root causes.”

            Seems like a opposition to root-cause finding to me.

    • if you don’t look to the causes of rabid dogs, you’ll soon be overrun by them. It’s a typical right wing false dilemma argument to assume both looking for cause and working on prevention are mutually exclusive.

      • Ummm, it’s not like right-wingers are the exclusive users of false dilemmas and false dichotomies. Just get any lefty talking about health care: either we keep the status quo, or we will turn into the evil United States. Hey, no false dichotomy there . . .

      • Who cares? As long as the Liberals haven’t taken all your guns away, you can just keep blasting them.

        And I take issue with your use of the word “rabid”. It sounds like you’re trying to excuse their behaviour by talking about a “disease”. They’re evil dogs and they should be shot, not “understood” or “treated” or whatever you liberal hug-an-evil-doggers want to do with them.

  6. Commit sociology…now that’s got to rate a mandatory minimum of two years at the very least!

  7. In fact, it is utterly imperative we act while taking active measures to ensure we do not understand!

    • If we think, the terrorists win!

    • Only the left-wing doesn’t understand terrorism. We’re talking about people who would use violence against innocents to further their own evil agenda. What more do you want to understand? Do you think Trust Fund Trudeau is the first person who ever contemplated the “root causes” of terrorism? Is his Teacherness such a hidden genius that he and he alone can figure out why people turn to terrorism, and somehow dissuade them with his curly locks and fancy last name?

      • “We’re talking about people who would use violence against innocents to further their own evil agenda. What more do you want to understand?”

        Seems like it would be handy to understand their evil agenda. But if not, maybe we should save the money we’re spending on CSIS and invest it in border guards and airport security.

        • How can you understand their evil agenda until you know who committed the crime? That’s exactly why, as Harper said, the #1 priority after an attack like this is to find the guilty party and bring them to justice. Without that, all the talk about “root causes” in the world is simply speculation.

          • Ah, so you don’t disagree with Trudeau, you’re just concerned about the timing.

    • “In fact, it is utterly imperative we act while taking active measures to ensure we do not understand!”

      …also a pretty good summary of their environmental policies.

  8. There are some out there who are tracing Harper’s blather to Auden.
    My fading memory of Auden does not include a reference to sociology.
    I recollect a line something along the line of ” thou shalt not commit a
    social science” … which broadens the issue quite a bit … to perhaps include
    elements of marketing … including the political variety.

    • Bang on. The full line, from “Under Which Lyre”, was:

      “…thou shalt not sit
      With statisticians nor commit
      A social science.”

      Further on, he goes on to decree that:

      “Thou shalt not be on friendly terms
      With guys in advertising firms,
      Nor speak with such…”

      It would seem the PM is one of those fancy, book larnin’ elitists. (However, Auden did describe himself as a ‘communist’.)

      If nothing else, one hopes this whole shitshow might rekindle an interest in this fine poet.