While we may be more threatened than before, let not 2015 be the year we give up freedoms.
Author: Jae Hur
On Oct. 22, 2014, Ottawa fell into disarray when Michael Zehaf-Bibeau killed Cpl. Nathan Cirillo at the Canadian War Memorial while continuing onto breach the Parliament buildings. The capital was locked down while an entire nation held its breath during this terrifying day. Two days earlier, Martin Rouleau struck two members of the Canadian Forces in a car near Montreal, killing one soldier in the process.
In a year immersed in headlines of Hamas-Israel conflicts, ISIS radicalism, and Russian aggression in Crimea, Canada was certainly not immune to violence. The previous paragraph is only a microscopic view of difficult situations confronting our country. To exacerbate matters, various radical groups have been terrorizing humanity, such as the hostage situation in Sydney or the school bombing in Pakistan.
2014 reminded us that Canada is not immune to violence and domestic security booted into the political forefront.
Legislatively, the Conservatives moved to strengthen the Canadian Security Intelligent Service’s ability to conceal informants’ identities and to streamline communication between the agency and Parliament. Additionally, the government is also considering measures that make it illegal to support terrorist acts online, allow police greater freedom to use preventive arrests, and implement harsher penalties against people found to be supporting terrorist groups. At the same time, they also shelved planned legislation that would have loosened restrictions on gun ownership.
As we look forward to 2015, several thoughts occur to me in regards to national security. First off, although we live in an age where criminal activity is often tangled with radical religious bigotry, we absolutely must not respond with isolating certain religions or cultures. In contrast to our neighbors to the south, who undertook a series of legislation, including the Patriot Act, which singled out Muslim Americans in response to 9/11, Canada must adhere to its distinct badge of democracy, acceptance and respect; the contrary will shape a corrupt nation led by segregation, intolerance and racism. Radical religious groups solely utilize religion as a scapegoat for their aggressive agendas and it would be against Canadian ideals for certain Canadians to bear the blame as a result.
Secondly, as Canada’s democracy is tested through these violent acts, I’m reminded of the greatness of Canada as a country. Only when we are faced with adversity and terror we realize the freedoms and security we often overlook. In accordance, we must always remember to keep close to our hearts the sacrifices that have been made to keep us safe in the past and present. From Vimy Ridge, Passchendaele, Dieppe, Korea, Yugoslavia and Afghanistan, Canadian soldiers and peacekeepers have acted as our guardian angels, risking their lives in battle to maintain Canadian democratic ideals and identity. Let us never forget the sacrifices they’ve made for our freedoms.
2014 included days of hardships and adversity for Canadians. Forces threatening Canadian values and ideals were visibly present throughout the year far and near. However, as we look forward into 2015, Canadians must entrust politicians to strengthen Canadian security preventing attacks against Canada, while maintaining Canadian values of acceptance.