January 29, 2018
On January 29, 2017, a single gunman committed a heinous hate crime, murdering 6 Muslim men at prayer in Quebec City and wounding others.
Today as memorials are held across the country we pause in remembering the victims of an attempt at mass shooting and expressing our solidarity with those who were targeted.
Remembering also calls for action to prevent such hateful acts from recurring to any group in Canada, through inter-community contact, through our education system and our laws.
For instance, current anti-terror laws have been interpreted to require membership of a perpetrator in a terrorist group for a charge to be laid.
But around the world, it has been ideologies that have incited the murder of people at prayer affecting Muslims, Jews, Christians and others as a political tool, aimed at driving out any of these groups from a country, or strengthening inter-group hatred.
In the 1990's, some white supremacist leaders promoted a concept of "leaderless resistance" where individuals did not have to formally be members of their organization. They just had to subscribe to the ideology of white supremacy and, when the circumstances were appropriate, would know what to do without direction 'from the top'.
Al Qaeda, ISIL and other known groups have used similar methods to inspire individuals who have bought into their belief system to carry out terrorist attacks.
Such attacks are motivated by hatred, but they are also often linked to an overall hateful ideology in which individuals come to believe, without taking out a membership card.
Should police and prosecutors then, not be able to use any reasonable evidence of support for such ideologies to charge individuals with terrorism-related offences, and not be limited to proof of actual membership in a particular terrorist organization?
On the anniversary of the senseless murder of these men and the wounding of so many others, it is perhaps time to take another look at these laws and ensure that they will continue to be effective and to protect all Canadians from such terrible crimes.