"Within Canada there is ample room for opposition and dissent, but none for intimidation and terror." - Pierre Trudeau announcing imposition of the War Measures Act.
Pierre Trudeau knew something about terrorism and how a society must react to it. In 1970 when the FLQ kidnapped James Cross and Pierre Laporte, Pierre Trudeau’s first reaction was not to express concern for the kidnappers. He did not worry about root causes or say the terrorists must have been excluded from society.
Trudeau went on national television to point out that democracies provide legitimate ways to bring about change, but when faced with terrorism – with kidnapping and murder in the name of a cause – a society must exert its full strength to protect itself.
When a CBC reporter objected to Trudeau’s attitude, Trudeau replied: “Yes, well there are a lot of bleeding hearts around…. All I can say is go on and bleed.”
Stephen Harper would never be so openly contemptuous of the feeble-minded, but sometimes a prime minister is obliged to speak his mind.
Earlier this week, terrorists set off two bombs at the Boston Marathon, murdering three people, including an eight-year-old child, and wounding 170 more.
Before the bodies were in the ground, while the maimed were still awakening to discover their legs had been amputated, a senior Canadian politician – the leader of one of our three main political parties – told the CBC that we had to look at root causes, that this attack “happened because of someone who feels completely excluded” and that it was important not to "marginalize people even further.”
In the circumstances, our prime minister really had to speak up for Canada, and he did it with class, without calling anyone a bleeding heart, even without naming the politician who had been so shallow, so callow, so insensitive.
When faced with terrorism, Harper said, you must “condemn it categorically, and to the extent you can deal with the perpetrators, you deal with them as harshly as possible.”
Justin Trudeau’s father couldn’t have said it any better.