For a moment yesterday, I thought Power and Politics was doing a comedy format. Pierre Poilievre, Conservative MP from Nepean-Carleton, had just declared on the esteemed CBC newshow, that “The root cause of terrorism is terrorists.” I didn’t know what was funnier, Poilievre’s failure to understand how ridiculous he sounded, or host Evan Solomon’s incredulous reaction. But when Solomon asked the hapless MP to repeat his comment, Poilievre did so, not once, but twice more for emphasis. It was then I realized he was absolutely ernest, and Canada was in serious trouble.
It came across as such a clear Conservative talking point that I had to research its origins. Sure enough, I found it in the depths of a Sun Media editorial penned on Saturday, April 20 in the Ottawa Sun by reporter John Robson. Robson had concluded his anti-Trudeau diatribe that day with the words: “So yes, the ‘root causes’ of terrorism are important. Namely terrorists and the ideas they choose to adopt.”
I e-mailed Mr. Robson the next morning to ask if he was offended or relieved that Poilievre hadn’t quoted him. To which he responded, “I’m neither. Because yes, it really is true and I’m glad he said it regardless of what inspired him to.” That response, beyond the offense of ending a sentence with a preposition, led me to conclude that the root cause of stupidity is stupid people.
My young son, a grade eight public school student, had seen the original broadcast, my reaction to it, and the Sun reporter’s response. I asked him what he thought. “Terrorists are the instruments of terror, not the root causes of terrorism. Those are two different things – even a kid knows that.”
Catching a terrorist is like splurging with your first paycheck; eliminating the root causes of terrorism is like saving fifty years for your safe retirement. The later requires the kind of long range thinking that neither Sun reporters or Conservative Reform Alliance Party MPs have yet to demonstrate.
They say that timing is everything, which makes me seriously question the timing of the RCMP announcement on Monday, April 22/13, that they had arrested two suspects in a plot to derail a VIA train in Canada. To raise the fear meter even higher, it was indicated that these two suspects supposedly had al-Qaeda and Iranian connections. Backtrack to the horrifying scenes from Boston last Monday and the media frenzy that swept the new leader of the Liberal Party of Canada from the front pages and replaced hopeful smiles with tears of horror.
While the world was transfixed with the search for the Boston bombers, Forum Research quietly released a poll showing that the Liberals under Trudeau would win a crushing majority if an election were held now. The new Liberal leader went for the Conservatives' weak spot by calling for a debate on the speaking rights of back-benchers. That would not be good news given the recent revolt in the Conservative rearguard, so taking advantage of a terror alert on high, the Conservatives did what they do best – they changed the channel.
Now, the train plot in Canada had been under investigation for quite some time, with Canadian law enforcement waiting for American intelligence to get all the data they needed before the RCMP moved in for an arrest. Was it just a fortunate coincidence that, as the Conservatives cancel the backbencher speaking debate to replace it with a debate on the Combatting Terrorism Bill, the mounties announce a terror plot in Canada? I think not. I would bet a litre of pure Canadian Maple Syrup that the phone lines were humming late last week between the PMO and RCMP headquarters to get on with the arrest, and, let's see, make the announcement on Monday, April 22. After all, to paraphrase Vic Toews, "You're either with us, or you're with the terrorists."
This gives the PM time show Canadians that he is Tough on Terror, and to hold a disciplinary caucus meeting with his MPs before the backbench debate can resume on Wednesday.
After all, it's much better to be seen as "tough on terror" than to be seen terrorizing your own backbenchers.