It would be acceptable to refer to Oct. 22Nd, 2014 as Canada’s ‘Day of Infamy’, for it surely was that with the ruthless and mindless slaughter of Cpl. Nathan Cirillo by a maniac as he guarded our monument to the Unknown Soldier. This event followed closely on the heels of the equally senseless slaughter of Cpl. Patrice Vincent in the Province of Quebec the previous day.
I join my compatriots in feeling aghast and saddened by those events. I will not, however, join in the clarion cry that protests we ‘lost our innocence’ by those events. Nothing of the sort. Canada has been no stranger to acts of hideousness that defy the reason of those of reasoned minds. Sometimes the motivation has been political, at other times it is merely representative of unbalanced minds with politics used as an excuse for the atrociousness.
So, we lost our ‘innocence’ back in 1970 with the FLQ Crisis, for those old enough to remember. It was a tumultuous time in which my recollection is colored by a remembrance of staying in a Montreal hotel only to be awakened by a powerful explosion in the wee small hours and later to find that the shop down the street had been blown out by a bomb. More serious than damage to real estate, however, was the kidnapping and murder of Quebec cabinet minister Pierre LaPorte, and also the kidnapping of UK trade commissioner James Cross.
Very frightening times. Times in which then prime minister Pierre Trudeau invoked the War Measures Act, a decision that some felt was needed and others thought was wretched excess and grandstanding. I’ll leave that up to you, but it is worthy of noting that Stephen Harper, love him or loathe him, invoked no such thing on the 22nd.
We also lost a goodly lot of innocence in 1989 with the horrifying slaughter of 14 female students and the wounding of 10 others at Montreal’s Ecole Polytechnique by whack-job Marc Lepine. That was an event that continues to live in infamy.
And to be fair, Canadian soldiers – brave Canadian soldiers like corporals Cirillo and Vincent – lost their lives in the many thousands in two world wars and Korea only to give us the Canada that we not only cherish but that we must continue to fight valiantly to preserve, as did Cirillo, Vincent, and Parliamentary Sergeant at Arms Kevin Vickers. We should be very proud to share this turf with all three of them and those blessed people who tended to Cpl. Cirillo in his dying throes.