The government is fighting terror, don’t you know

Tease the day: The government debates anti-terror legislation as the RCMP foils terror plot


Chief Superintendent Jennifer Strachan addresses the media Monday, April 22 during a press conference announcing the arrest of two individuals charged with conspiring to carry out a terrorist attack against a VIA passenger train. (Photograph by Aaron Vincent Elkaim)

Cynicism abounds in Ottawa. Yesterday, as RCMP officials detailed their case against two suspected terrorists—and detailed is a generous term, to be sure—an Ottawa Citizen reporter, Gary Dimmock, thought something smelled funny about the timing of the press conference, the arrests, and the government’s preferred topic of debate in the House of Commons. “If there was a risk, the RCMP would have ‘foiled’ it back in August 2012, when they knew,” Dimmock tweeted. “They told u today on combat terror debate day.”

Dimmock rightly points out that the two suspects—Chiheb Esseghaier, 30, and Raed Jaser, 35—apparently posed no imminent threat to the public, and their plot to derail a VIA train was in the planning stages. Dimmock also correctly points out that the government made a big deal of its anti-terror legislation, Bill S-7. Candice Bergen, the parliamentary secretary to the minister of public safety, led the government side during yesterday’s debate (the government’s heart wasn’t really in the debate—as Aaron Wherry points out, the discussion mostly comprised interventions from New Democrats and Liberal MP Kevin Lamoureux).

Whether or not the timing of the arrests was a cheap ploy to remind the country of the necessity of increased powers for law enforcement is an open question. If that was the government’s goal, The Globe and Mail took the bait. Seeing things that way requires a bigger-than-usual dose of cynicism—and deep mistrust of government, or at least the current gang in power. Even if it’s all bunk, that a reputable reporter even mused about such things speaks to a constant undercurrent of suspicion that plagues so many government critics in this town.

UPDATE: Somehow, I missed Colleague John Geddes’ own writing last night about the curious timing of the arrests and the parliamentary debate on terrorism. The government officially denied any link.

What’s above the fold this morning?

The Globe and Mail leads with the foiling of a terrorist plot to derail a train on the same day the House of Commons debated Bill S-7, the government’s anti-terror legislation. The National Post fronts the help of the Muslim community in catching the suspected terrorists. The Toronto Star goes above the fold with the devoutly religious nature of the two terror suspects. The Ottawa Citizen leads with the suspects’ alleged “direction and guidance” from al-Qaeda. iPolitics fronts a Tasha Kheiriddin column that supports S-7 and dismisses complaints about the curious timing of the debate on the bill. CBC.ca leads with this morning’s court date for the suspected terrorists. National Newswatch showcases the CBC’s main story on the suspected terrorists’ plot.

Stories that will be (mostly) missed

1. Sex abuse. The Supreme Court tossed out the Crown’s appeal of the case of Ernest Fenwick MacIntosh, whose sexual abuse convictions had been overturned due to “unreasonable delay.” 2. Accounting. Treasury Board President Tony Clement launched a new online portal that listed departmental expenditures for the last three fiscal years—a response to the “digital age,” he says.
3. Elliot Lake. Ontario’s labour ministry charged an unnamed engineer with endangering a worker by providing negligent advice in connection with last summer’s deadly mall collapse. 4. Charbonneau. Frank Zampino, the former president of Montreal’s executive committee, told the Charbonneau commission that gifts he received from construction bosses didn’t influence him.


The government is fighting terror, don’t you know

  1. Nick Taylor-Vaisey has promised to answer questions, don’t you know! (I just wonder: when? When the time is right? When is the time right?)


    Dear Nick,

    On March 25, 2013 you posted an article entitled: ‘Ask me anything about Parliament Hill.’

    At the time, I did put forward a question. As of yet I have not seen an answer to my question coming from you. Could you tell me if the answers to the questions posed are still forthcoming?

    Below, you will find a repeat of my question:

    Excellent idea, Nick. So here is my most serious question:

    Evan Solomon did an interview with Reg Borges for The House, in which
    the so-called overspending of Penashue’s campaign were being discussed.
    Within the interview it came to light, as one thing out of many, that
    Penashue’s wife must automatically be considered a campaign worker (and
    therefore her flight expenses must be included in the campaign’s expense
    account) when she travels on the same plane as her husband when
    commuting to one of her husband’s speaking events. It was clear to both
    Evan and Reg that there were no other means of transportation available
    in Labrador that time of year other than flying. So, would Penashue’s
    wife not have been considered a campaign worker if she had taken a
    flight separate from her husband Peter when going to the event?

    Awaiting your reply.


  2. “The government is fighting terror, don’t you know”

    HL Mencken – Civilization, in fact, grows more and more maudlin and hysterical; especially under democracy it tends to degenerate into a mere combat of crazes; the whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, most of them imaginary.

  3. Muslims are trying to kill us, and making us afraid to go anywhere, we should send all of the Muslims back to Muslimville where they belong, we can’t get on an airplane without search, we can’t run a marathon without being bombed now we can’t safely ride the train, I am afraid of Muslims I want them out of Canada, they hate us and freedom, now I hate them too, I want them gone from here, we must stop them by not supporting them in anyways, what’s next car bombs?, they are bringing their terrorist ways of life here, it is wrong and they must go, next time i see a bearded Muslim I will run, they should all be locked up to protect us, they are not to be trusted at any level at all, they want to hurt us, and we must stop them, they are bad people criminals all of them.

    • “they are bad people criminals all of them.”

      And I suppose you think EVERY Italian is in the mafia, and EVERY Irish person is a drunk, and EVERY Jamaican is in a gang.

      You sound like Mark Steyn, and that is nothing to be proud of.

    • We have more to fear from the likes of you.

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