The government wants you to be afraid


There is little room for nuance in the discussions that surround terrorism and that is largely due to the government’s insistence on taking every opportunity to ramp up the heat on the subject.  While something as important as defence policy and missions should be the stuff of our best and most thorough debates the government only sees them as an opportunity to divide and conquer their domestic political opposition.  The continual use of divisive tactics makes for a dysfunctional political atmosphere and leaves the troops stuck in the middle as a political football. 

Now we have learned that the government has insisted that civil servants provide them material to keep terrorism related topics in the forefront, whether there are any new developments or not.  The news broke from a CBC current affairs shows who have obtained an e-mail showing the Minister of Foreign Affairs has asked his department to provide him with three terrorism statements a week.   One can only presume this is an attempt to keep it fresh in the minds of Canadian voters as they head to the polls in October.

It is one thing to have the Minister deliver statements on international developments as they pop up, and quite another to insist his department fill a quota.  It reeks of desperation to keep Canadians focussed on terrorism at a time when the government appears weak on the economy. 

There is no doubt that we should be smart about terrorism, but if we are encouraged to be concerned and almost paranoid about the possibility of it we are in danger of losing focus on issues that have more to do with our day to day lives.  That is likely the greatest hope of the government who consider themselves in possession of a wedge issue with terrorism.  At every opportunity they have drawn a line in the sand and pronounced that any criticism of their initiatives amounts to support for terrorism.  The logic is anything but elegant, but they are happy to assume enough Canadians will vote on that issue to maintain the position.

This is not to dismiss terrorism in any way, but you are placing yourself into a much more dangerous position every time you get into a car and there aren’t three statements a week being issued about that.  Terrorism is and should be a concern for the federal government.  What it shouldn’t be is a pawn in domestic political discourse. Yet that is exactly what it is for Stephen Harper’s government, judging by their actions.  It leaves no room for any kind of resolution or policy discussions about how we should assist nations who request our support in their struggles.

It is important to remember that Iraq had requested humanitarian aid when the Conservatives decided to join the Americans in the fight against ISIS last spring.   They asked for blankets and we sent bombs.  Worse, the mission has neither UN nor NATO backing.  The Conservatives don’t want to discuss these kinds of things though.  They prefer hawkish statements that divide Canadians who truly want a more peaceful and secure world, but have differing opinions on how that can be arrived at. That is why they require three statements a week to keep terrorism fresh in everyone’s mind.