Alt-right uses flimsy evidence to fuel jihad conspiracy theory in Toronto van attack: Graeme Hamilton

One of several articles picking up on this “too quick to fit into a narrative” approach of the alt-right and fellow conspiracy travellers:

When a van plowed into pedestrians over a long stretch of Toronto sidewalk Monday, many immediately assumed it was the work of a terrorist following in the tracks of lone-wolf jihadists in Europe and the United States.

A portrait has since emerged of the accused, Alek Minassian, as someone motivated not by radical Islam but more likely by sexual frustration and social awkwardness.

Yet in the darker corners of the web, where conspiracy theories take hold, alt-right voices cling to the flimsiest evidence to suggest Canadian authorities are covering up what was actually an Islamist attack.

On Tuesday afternoon, Robert Spencer of the Jihad Watch web site drew on courtroom sketches to imply that the man who was charged Tuesday was not the same one arrested Monday. The key for him was that the sketches showed the suspect with hair while the man arrested had appeared bald.

“Was Minassian supplied a toupee in court today? . . . Was he wearing a bald wig yesterday? Or are authorities once again not being honest with us?” Spencer wrote.

“Again, I’m not saying that this is necessarily a jihad attack. But as oddities such as these court sketches multiply, we have to wonder what the Canadian authorities are trying to hide. And what else are authorities hiding when jihad attacks occur?”

In an earlier post, Spencer had written that it is “likely that this was not a jihad attack.” But after being asked on Twitter Wednesday whether he thought the man arrested and the man in court were different people, he replied, “I have no idea. But something very odd is going on.”

The internet provides fertile ground for those inclined to see a jihadi in every corner and a false flag on every ship. American mass shootings from Sandy Hook to Parkland have been fodder for conspiracy theorists, and Canada is not immune.

After the 2017 attack on a Quebec City mosque by a white francophone gunman, Alexandre Bissonnette, a theory stubbornly took hold that there had been a second, Muslim, gunman. Police clarified that the arrest at the scene of a Muslim man was a mix-up – he was a worshipper who had been helping victims and ran off thinking the police officer was the gunman returning. But the Canadian right-wing news site The Rebel repeatedly peddled the theory that there was more to the story. Even today, after Bissonnette pleaded guilty and a courtroom saw security video of the attack, the Rebel site asks, “What are the facts? And can we trust the mainstream media to tell us the truth about such a controversial and sensitive subject?”

The most vocal advocate of the theory that Toronto suffered a jihadi attack has been Alex Jones, whose InfoWars site is a breeding ground for alt-right conspiracy theories. Jones was in the middle of a Periscope live-stream Monday when Minassian’s name was first reported. He had been analyzing cell phone video of the arrest, concluding that the suspect spoke with “a classic Middle Eastern accent.”

When the name was published, and an associate informed Jones it was a common Armenian surname (less than one per cent of Armenians are Muslim), Jones dismissed the information and said it was an Iranian/Turkish name.

“So, another Islamic truck attack,” he concluded. “They’ll try to sweep it under the rug, but we won’t let it be swept under the rug. The truth will get out.”

As more of the truth came out in the following hours, indicating no Islamist connection, Jones stuck to his “Islamic terror attack” narrative. Pronouncing Minassian’s first name “Aleek” to make it sound Arabic, he suggested there was something suspicious in the fact that the arresting officer had not killed him: “I’m asking the question, why is this guy not dead? And why haven’t we learned his religion?”

On Wednesday afternoon, the fourth most popular item on the InfoWars site was: “Video of Truck Attack: Suspect Has Middle Eastern Accent.”

The fomenters of conspiracy theories often rely on the tactic of simply “asking the question,” letting their followers fill in the desired answer.

In Canada, a contributor to the Vlad Tepes blog — run by a frequent Rebel contributor who writes there under the name Victor Laszlo – commented Tuesday that the Toronto attacker followed the Islamic State modus operandi to the letter.

“(He) looked like an IS jihadi but our government released the clean cut school photo to push the mental illness narrative, which is patent BULL—-,” wrote contributor Eeyore, who is described as a “counter-jihad and freedom of speech activist.”

Many alt-right commentators were quick to declare the attack the work of a jihadi, including Rebel and InfoWars contributor Paul Joseph Watson, who accused Toronto Mayor John Tory of “virtue signalling” after “a jihadist has just killed nine people.” His Rebel colleague Katie Hopkins, a Brit, tweeted Tuesday morning mocking a message of sympathy from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and reinforcing the notion that it was an Islamist attack.

“You brought this. You are complicit in it. Politicians like you are terrorist shills,” she wrote.

On Wednesday, Trudeau declined to comment on the ongoing police investigation. “A lot of people have questions as to why, and there may or may not be actual answers,” he warned. Which is music to the ears of the conspiracy theorists eager to fill the void.

Source: Alt-right uses flimsy evidence to fuel jihad conspiracy theory in Toronto van attack

A similar piece by Stephen Maher: Toronto van attack: The rush to blame immigrants and Muslims after a mass killing

The cautionary tale of Kellie Leitch: Stephen Maher on populism

Good reporting and analysis by Maher:

Still, there is no reason to be complacent.

Pollster Frank Graves, who recently completed a polling project for the Canadian Press to explore the prospects for northern populism, sees a shift in Canadian attitudes about the economy, immigration and trade that could provide an opening for someone like Leitch.

“I think Kouvalis was likely onto something in that this was a more resonant strategy,” Graves said Wednesday. “I think Kellie Leitch was mining a vein of this new ordered-populist outlook, which is expressing itself in the United Kingdom with Brexit and with Trump in the United States.”

Graves polled thousands of Canadians, putting them on a spectrum from open—pro-trade, with positive views on immigration—to ordered. He found a growing group of Canadians—particularly in southern Ontario—who are anxious about their economic prospects, hostile to the elite policy consensus, anxious about immigration and skeptical about the benefits of trade.

The highest scores were in Oshawa, Barrie, London, Hamilton and Windsor, places where many workers have had to leave traditional industrial jobs, much like the rust-belt voters who made Trump president.

The trend has reversed somewhat since 2015, when Justin Trudeau was elected, but Graves believes there is a significant constituency for a populist message, based mostly on economic pessimism. “It begins with economic despair but then mutates into fear of others, nativism, racism,” he says.

In 2002, 68 per cent of Canadians described themselves as middle class. By 2017, it had fallen as low as 43 per cent. Many people feel they are losing ground, and they are not convinced that the elites are looking out for their best interests.
“They say, quite rightly, this didn’t work for us,” says Graves. “We’re pissed off.”

But I don’t think that this means we can expect a Trump-style figure to arise in Canada. It’s hard to put together an anti-trade message that works in a country as dependent on exports as Canada is, and we are likely better at smoothly managing immigration than any other country in the world.

Ford, the most successful populist in recent Canadian history, was politically incorrect but he succeeded politically because he connected with non-white voters.

The Reform Party, which once flirted with anti-immigrant messages, abandoned those ideas and, after merging with the Progressive Conservatives, sent Jason Kenney around the country to connect with ethnic Canadians, a key part of their winning election strategy.

Conservatives who watched the party lose in 2015 after playing with divisive anti-Muslim rhetoric, do not think it is a winner at the ballot box. “For every vote you win that way, how many do you lose?” said one strategist.

There may come a day when anti-immigrant messages help someone like Leitch get ahead in Canadian politics, but her political career is a cautionary tale that ambitious would-be Trumps will ignore at their peril. In that sense, we should be grateful to her for her public service.

Source: The cautionary tale of Kellie Leitch

Jordan Peterson and the big mistake of university censors: Maher

One of the better commentaries:

Unfortunately, it is time for people outside the academy to stand up for the free speech rights of Jordan Peterson, the irritating University of Toronto psychology professor who has become a star by producing tedious YouTube videos complaining about people trying to silence him.

Peterson, who is wrong about almost everything, is right when he says, over and over again, that he has a fundamental right to speak. The well-meaning people who try to silence him are making a big mistake, and need to listen to people outside the ivory tower.

On Nov. 1, Lindsay Shepherd, a teaching assistant at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, showed first year Communications Studies students a video clip from TVO’s Agenda, in which Peterson debated the use of non-gender-binary pronouns with another professor.

The classroom discussion must have upset a student, because Shepherd was censured by faculty and diversity and equity officials, who said she was “transphobic” and had created “a toxic climate.”

Shepherd is afraid that the university may fire her.

“Universities are no longer places where one can engage with controversial ideas,” she told the Waterloo Record. “They are echo chambers for left-wing ideology.”

Shepherd is right and the scolds at the university need to stop their censorious ways, not least because they are playing Peterson’s game.

Peterson, who makes tens of thousands of dollars a month fund-raising online, became famous in basements around the world when he spoke out against a University of Toronto policy requiring professors to use non-traditional pronouns like “ze” to address non-gender-binary students.

He argues that the university shouldn’t force him to use language he doesn’t like—misusing the plural, for goodness sake—and that his academic freedom is imperiled by the social justice warriors running the universities.

I think he’s wrong. Professors should do what they can for students who fall outside traditional gender categories, who have a much tougher life than powerful straight white men like Peterson. If that means that professors need to spend a little effort wrapping their tongues around new words, too bad.

I think it’s difficult for many straight, cisgendered people to deal with trans people because thinking about gender identity threatens their own identity in some way, and it’s lazy and selfish for them to refuse to deal with their own issues. Because gender is so emotional, young trans people face huge challenges being accepted, which is a matter of survival.

Peterson is the very picture of white straight male privilege, griping about being told what to do by people that were once subordinate to people like him, ignoring the pressing needs of people who need to be accepted if they are to survive.

For that reason, though, he is performing a valuable function. When society changes, as it is changing now, thankfully, in the way it treats trans people, we need to have a debate about it. To have a debate, someone has to be right and someone else—Peterson, in this case—has to be wrong.

What is worrying is that universities are trying to stop the debate from taking place.

Activists, who are right to demand that society treat trans people with respect, are wrong to think that that respect should extend to silencing those who disagree with them.

This seems to be half the point of a lot of left wing campus activism in the 21st century: trying to prevent people you disagree with from speaking. It is mistake, because it plays into the hands of the troll army of hateful troglodytes who lose every argument so long as you don’t try to force them into silence.

I get it when the people you disagree with are actual Nazis, like Richard Spencer, and I can see why exuberant young people aren’t always scrupulous about the distinction between showing up to oppose a speaker they dislike, which is healthy, and trying to stop that person from speaking, which is not.

But there is something sick-making about the growing bureaucratization of safe spaces, the culture of human resources departments imposing itself on campus, the idea that the universities must protect students from being confronted by uncomfortable ideas.

You can’t learn to think without debating. Learning to think doesn’t mean having your head stuffed full of whatever orthodoxy the profs have settled on this week, because you can be sure that will change, and then what will you do? Go back to school for re-education?

Learning to think means learning to entertain opposing ideas, defend your views and discard the ones you can’t defend.

There is no room for compromise on this, and that means there’s going to have to be a nasty fight with well-meaning but mistaken censors.

Campus activists have weaponized fragility, imposing the safety culture of the elementary school where it does not belong.

An earlier generation of activists made gains by forcing society to confront their reality. They said Black is Beautiful, or We’re here! We’re Queer! Get used to it! Today’s activists seem to invest a lot of energy in prosecuting micro-aggressions, preventing offence, imposing orthodoxy.

There’s something disturbing about this, beyond its implications for free speech. As a society, we are becoming increasingly risk-averse, embracing safety as the highest value, wrapping our children in bubble wrap, helmets securely strapped to their chins, safe from sexism, transphobia, bullying and peanuts.

It’s hard to speak out against any of it. Helmets are a good idea. Transphobia is bad. Peanuts are life-threatening for some kids.

But the world is not an elementary school, and we’re not doing students any favours by pretending that they can go through their lives without ever having their feelings hurt.

via Jordan Peterson and the big mistake of university censors – Macleans.ca

Stephen Maher: Can you remind us how you care about your opponents’ rights too, Mr. Harper?

Seems like an audit of the Church’s charitable status seems in order 🙂

It seems likely the P.E.I. church is secretly doing its last-minute cancellations of Liberal events to get revenge on the party for Trudeau’s abortion policy.

I hope that’s what they’re up to, because the alternative — that they are telling the truth — is chilling.

Grecco said the church is afraid that if it allows Liberals to hold events in its halls, the church could have to face auditors. [the Church seems not to fear repercussions from holding Conservative events]

“That would jeopardize our standing as a charitable status with the (Canada Revenue Agency),” Grecco said.

That seems like a weak excuse from an organization trying to avoid the truth, but who knows?

In 2012, the CRA threatened to take away the tax-free status of a magazine published by the Mennonites because they published some editorials that were critical of Harper’s wise environmental stewardship.

The CRA’s political auditors have also taken a hard line with the Kairos church charity, various anti-pipeline groups and, of course, the David Suzuki Foundation.

They even targeted Kitchener-Waterloo, Ont., bird watchers who were unwise enough to criticize the environmental policy of Conservatives in their bird-watching circulars.

Is it possible that some of the prime minister’s auditors in the CRA have been excessively zealous in carrying out the leader’s wishes, to the point they are frightening churches into cancelling events from opposition parties?

The idea is ridiculous.

We can be sure Harper wants church halls to open their doors to events for all parties, because he supports the fundamental democratic rights of all Canadians.

It’s absurd to think, as the Harper haters would have you believe, that he doesn’t care about the rights of those who disagree with him.

Still, maybe he should say so from time to time, just to make it crystal clear.

Stephen Maher: Can you remind us how you care about your opponents’ rights too, Mr. Harper? | National Post.

Niqab Politics Commentary – Various

Starting with Margaret Wente:

I loathe the niqab. I agree with Prime Minister Stephen Harper that niqabs are “not how we do things here.” A cloth that covers the face is a symbolic rebuke to Western values – especially when the covered woman is walking three steps behind her jeans-and-sneakers-clad husband.

But I also think a woman has the right to choose – even when her choice is offensive to a lot of people. I believe that religious freedom is a cornerstone of Western values. People should have wide latitude to exercise that freedom as they wish, and we shouldn’t constrain them without very good reasons.

So if Zunera Ishaq, a devout Sunni Muslim from Pakistan, wants to wear a veil while she swears the oath of citizenship, let her. Our democracy has survived greater threats than that.

…I despise niqabs. I really, really do. But I despise attacks on people’s freedom even more. There’s a difference between a woman in a veil and a jihadi sawing off a head. We need to remember that.

Why Stephen Harper is playing niqab politics – The Globe and Mail.

Stephen Maher focusses more on the politics:

The best way to counter the online recruiters who prey on those weak-minded souls is not to set up a mosque inquisition, as Mr. Legault proposed, but to build good relations with the imams who are on the front lines of anti-radicalization efforts.

We need these guys to drop a dime when they’re worried that Ahmed has gone off his meds, and they’re less likely to do that if they feel their community is under attack.

This is a good time to lower the temperature and remind Canadians of what draws us together, not constantly point to the things that divide us.

But Mr. Legault, like Mr. Harper, risks bitter defeat in the next election. So both men are playing with fire, trying to capitalize on fear, the most powerful emotion in politics.

And it is working. Recent polls show the Tories’ tough-on-terror message connecting in Ontario and, especially, Quebec, opening a ray of hope for a government that until recently looked doomed.

That’s fair play, but I’m worried that Mr. Harper will add fuel to the fire, linking terrorism to mosques — as he did when he introduced C-51 — inveighing against niqabs in fundraising emails and scaring everyone by warning about “jihadist monsters” at every opportunity.

Mr. Harper’s back is to the wall. If he loses the next election, or even fails to win it convincingly, his career is likely over.

Since oil prices collapsed, the economy is not the political winner it once was, leaving fear as his best issue.

Things could get ugly between now and the election.

  Stephen Maher: Tough talk about Muslims by Canadian politicians is unnecessary  

And Andrew Coyne issues a further warning:

On the surface, the insistence of Obama and other leaders that “this has nothing to do with Islam,” would seem as odd as that of their critics, that it has everything to do with Islam. As David Frum writes on the Atlantic website, “it seems a strange use of authority for an American president to take it upon himself to determine which interpretations of Islam are orthodox and which are heretical.” But there is a strong case for saying such things, even if you don’t believe them — especially if you don’t believe them — precisely in the service of fighting terrorism.

The one thing that could be predicted to cause more Muslims, here and abroad, to believe that violence against the West was justified would be if they were to become convinced that, indeed, there is “a clash of civilizations,” that Islam was under attack, and that they themselves, as practitioners of the religion, were objects of suspicion and hostility. The phenomenon is often observed in other social groups that, rightly or wrongly, feel themselves besieged: they will close ranks, even with those with whom they might otherwise have no sympathy.

That would be a calamitous setback to efforts, largely successful, to win the cooperation of the Muslim community in rooting out the few radicals in their midst. Which takes us to the rhetoric of the Harper government. Merely referring to “Islamic extremism” or “jihadism” would be unobjectionable in itself. But when coupled with recent, needless interventions in such volatile debates as whether the niqab may be worn at citizenship ceremonies, it suggests at best a troubling indifference to the importance of symbols and the need for those in power to go out of their way to reassure those in minority groups that they have not been targeted.

It may be good politics. But they are playing with fire.

Violent extremism or jihadism: The case for watching our language on terror

Lastly, Salim Mansur’s efforts to compare Indian religious and cultural practice restrictions doesn’t work: there is a difference between bigamy, child marriage, concubinage, FGM, which directly impact upon the rights of others or impact on the health of the person, unlike the wearing of a niqab.

The only valid comparison is that with other religious closing and headgear accommodations  (which the niqab is) and other dress code conventions (i.e., one cannot demand government services or attend a citizenship ceremony full or partially naked).

But we need to compare apples with apples, not oranges:

The same week the Federal Court ruled the niqab ban unlawful, India’s Supreme Court ruled that bigamy and polygamy is not protected under Article 25 of the Indian Constitution, which refers to freedom of conscience and religion. The justices of the Indian Supreme Court upheld a lower court ruling that the appellant, Khursheed Ahmad Khan, in taking a second wife while remaining married to his first wife, violated the civil service regulations that do not permit bigamy and polygamy as part of religious belief. The justices agreed a “bigamous marriage amongst Muslims is neither a religious practice nor a religious belief and certainly not a religious injunction or mandate.”

The relevant point here is that certain practices — such as bigamy or child marriage, concubinage, female genital mutilation, etc. — even when permitted by a religion, need to be distinguished from religious belief as customary practices. In making this appropriate distinction, the Indian courts have ruled, with the Supreme Court in agreement, that what is protected under Article 25 is religious belief, not practices that may run counter to public order, health or morality.

This ruling of the Indian Supreme Court is instructive. India shares with Canada the system of government and democratic traditions handed down from Britain. India is also the world’s third-largest Muslim country after Indonesia and Pakistan. In ruling that bigamy and polygamy are in violation of India’s laws, the courts have defended the rights of women, especially Muslim women, in terms of equality rights, and against Muslim Shariah-based laws that discriminate against them in favour of men.

Canadian courts would be well advised to make a similar and appropriate distinction between religious beliefs and customary practices, and whether any or all customs should be protected under the Charter provision of religious freedom.

Salim Mansur: Defending the niqab ban

Radicalization and the Ottawa Shooting: Weekend Commentary

Weekend news and commentary I found relevant and interesting.

Consistent messaging from a number of political figures and media commentators on the need for more than security approaches in combatting radicalization. Premiers Wynne and Couillard stress the community and societal aspects in Curbing radicalization a community issue: Wynne |  Toronto Sun.

A great deal of speculation on what measures the Government may be considering (beyond the already announced increase in CSIS powers), ranging from Online hate speech could be curtailed under new anti-terror push (ironic, given the Government’s removal of online hate speech from the Canadian Human Rights Act, and to strip the federal human rights commission’s power to investigate such complaints) to greater use of preventive detention in Tories hint at even tougher anti-terror laws. John Ivison thinks the template will be the UK in  Conservatives’ new anti-terror laws likely to mirror ‘immensely controversial’ U.K. legislation.

Stephen Maher sounds a note of caution, considering the Government’s record on privacy, oversight, and transparency, in Harper government’s intelligence agenda a cause for worry.

Interestingly, Benjamin Perrin, formerly of PMO, argues that existing laws are adequate (including the proposed additions to CSIS’ powers)in Our laws are up to the homegrown terror threat, and Ian Brodie, former chief of staff to PM Harper, advocates for an all-party non-partisan approach to improving security on Parliament Hill in Ian Brodie: There is no reason to turn Parliament Hill into an armed fortress.

And as the debate starts, Scott Reid notes that We’ve seen MPs unite, now we need them to be divided to ensure a full discussion and debate about the appropriate responses to the attacks.

Jon Kay discusses how the immediacy of video heightens fear in Did attack on Parliament really change our lives forever? even if incidents and risk are relatively low.

Doug Saunders explores the grey line between ideology and pathology in The lone wolf: Is it ideology or pathology? with both Islamic-inspired and other extremism examples. Margaret Wente dismisses arguments over blowback over intervention in What do we do about the Islamic State fanboys? without the nuance of Saunders with respect to ideology and pathology. Andrew Coyne takes a similar talk, with more nuance, and makes the valid point that We got off relatively lightly this time. We may not be so lucky the next.

Some nice commentary contrasting restrained Canadian and hyperventilated US coverage of the attacks by Dean Obeidallah in To US media Canadian shooter being Muslim ends investigation.

Douglas Todd reports on the Burnaby Mosque which essentially expelled Zahaf-Bibeau given his intolerant views in Is Burnaby mosque a victim of its own openness?

And while there have been a few incidents against Muslims (Islamophobia: the ugly side of the municipal election?), there has also been support for those Muslims or Muslim institutions (Volunteers help clean vandalism from Cold Lake mosque). And within the Muslim community, some strong messages against radicalization during Ottawa Friday prayers The Roots of Radicalizaton and the Education to Prevent It among others.

More Ottawa Shooting Commentary

Further to yesterday’s round-up of the recent shootings, more of the better commentary or more interesting commentary that has crossed my eye.

Wesley Wark: Reducing the risk of terrorism provides a sober assessment of the ongoing risks and the need neither to over or under act, but learn the lessons from any failures and gaps in security.

In the theme of let’s not get carried away, André Pratte in La réponse and Stephen Maher Time to reflect on the courage of our ancestors remind us to have balance and perspective. Doug Saunders notes how the public space around parliaments the world over has been whittled down by successive security threats in Don’t let the seat of government become a fortress.

On the other side, Journal de Montréal’s Richard Martineau is characteristically alarmist in Terrorisme: appelons les choses par leur nom.

More on the common elements to the two most recent cases of radicalization, Martin Couture-Rouleau  and Michael Zehaf-Bibeau:

Martin Couture-Rouleau et Michael Zehaf-Bibeau partagent plusieurs points en commun : ils étaient jeunes (25 ans et 32 ans), ils s’étaient récemment convertis à l’islam radical, la GRC avait confisqué leur passeport par crainte qu’ils rejoignent le groupe État islamique, et ils auraient agi tels des « loups solitaires ».

Pour les autorités policières, c’est le cauchemar. Les deux jeunes ont agi de leur propre chef, sans même avoir été initiés au combat par des groupes extrémistes à l’étranger. Ils sont difficiles à repérer et à neutraliser.

Un loup solitaire aux motivations inconnues

And further details about the troubled life of the shooter, Zehaf-Bibeau in the Globe in Drugs and religion key themes in Ottawa shooter’s troubled life and in the Post in Details of Zehaf-Bibeau’s life paint picture of a man derailed by homelessness, crime and addiction, detailing his drug addiction, quarrelsome personality and his failed efforts to use his faith to control both.

Canadian Muslims are quick to respond and express outrage in Canadian Muslims denounce recent attacks, fear backlash.

Matt Gurney challenges the military’s decision in Canadian soldiers don’t hide in their own damn country — rescind the order to not wear uniforms in public.

Barbara Kay covers a different angle in The unique anguish of a terrorist’s mother:

If it is inevitable, why feel guilty about these “bad seeds”? And yet, inevitably, parents do. Our sympathetic embrace for the real victims should therefore be wide enough to include their murderers’ collateral damage.

A great deal of favourable commentary on Parliament yesterday, how each leader struck the right tone, the hugs of support, and the deserved standing ovation for Sergeant-at-Arms Vickers starting with Jeffrey Simpson in Tribute, solidarity and back to politics (with some barbs at the difference between Government rhetoric and funding).

Jonathan Kay noted the contrast between this time and 30 years ago, when the then Sergeant-at-Arms was able to talk armed Denis Lortie into surrendering in Two Sergeants-at-Arms, two kinds of heroism.

Rick Salutin, similarly praises Kevin Vickers, but provocatively, and accurately, rubbishes the idea of Canadian innocence in We didn’t lose our innocence. We never had it.

Andrew Coyne, perceptively noted the nuances in the various positions and how that hopefully portended more serious political dialogue and debate in Politics weren’t put aside during the Ottawa hug-out, they were just made over for the occasion:

For Mr. Harper, it was “to identify and counter threats and keep Canada safe here at home,” as well as “to work with our allies” in the fight against “the terrorist organizations” abroad who hope “to bring their savagery to our shores.” For Mr. Mulcair, it was “our commitment to each other and to a peaceful world.” For Mr. Trudeau, it was “staying true to our values” of “fairness, justice and the rule of law.”

“We will not be intimidated,” Mr. Harper vowed. “That is not going to happen,” Mr. Mulcair seconded. “We will not be intimidated into changing that,” Mr. Trudeau agreed. But they meant very different things.

And the still and video images of the citizens of Ottawa paying their tribute to fallen soldier Nathan Cirillo (as well as the accounts of those who tried to save him in ‘You’re breathing — keep breathing’), as well as to democratic values, were moving.