For me yesterday triggered memories, good and bad. I remembered seeing the terror alerts while on the Underground, my Twitter feed during the Boston marathon bombing, training as a reservist in the J.W. Foote VC Armouries with members of the Argyles, I’ve walked down that hall towards the Parliamentary Library during a school trip.
We were all reminded yesterday of the important role the Sergeant at Arms plays in our political system. The uniform of Sergeant at Arms may be archaic looking, the mace and sword have become ornamental, but the job is essential to preserve our system of government. The position of Sergeant at Arms dates back to a time when Commons and King were deciding who would be supreme, and the Speaker of the Commons was arrested for treason if a vote went against the King. The Sergeants at Arms are “break glass in case of emergency” we hope are never need, but glad of when we did yesterday.
I spent time in the Army Reserves, before Corporal Cirillo would have been in cadets, most of my time was spent in the J.W. Foote VC Armouries where a growing memorial is now. I was in the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry but trained alongside members of the Argyles and other units. Hamilton Reservists have served in every Canadian conflict since the Fenian Raids that started in 1864. During training we were told Hamilton suffered about ten percent casualties during World War II, despite being hundreds of kilometers from the nearest fighting. Given the chance some Hamilton Reservists would volunteer for service in Iraq against ISIL.
The first recorded use of the term Canadiens is found in French Army reports from 1640, when as a French colony we were under attack and threats of extermination. Canada has faced worse than people who can’t tell the difference between the Koran and a Kalashnikov, one is for reading and the other recycling. We will adapt to this challenge as we always adapt to challenges.
Some people will suggest we suspend the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, become a police state, or blame certain groups for these recent crimes. These people are Canada’s enemies and must be treated as such. Crime will not be solved by harsher treatment, barbaric punishments, or suspension of human rights. Surgeons don’t use backhoes to remove inflamed appendices, law enforcement cannot succeed in stopping future violent criminals with legal tools from the Dark Ages.
Some on Twitter have said we shouldn’t understand these people who mean us harm, but how can you defeat someone you don’t understand or know? Sun Tzu said: know your enemy, know yourself and victory is assured. There is no real barrier between domestic and foreign in todays world yet Canada has no foreign intelligence agency to spy on threats. Spies aren’t super heroes in nice suits, nor cold killing machines, but they can save lives. Canada’s Dominion Police had a spy in California that helped stop attacks on the Navy base in Esquimalt British Columbia.
If this weeks attacks on Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent and Corporal Nathan Cirillo are because we have Special operators on the ground in Iraq and CF-188s heading to the region then it tells us the enemy has changed techniques, tactics and battle spaces. Canada is at war but to many Canadians war is chess or American football, which are false assumptions. Canadians at war should be like Canadians in hockey; fast, everywhere, offensive, and the world’s best. This means better resources to train the Canadian Forces, law enforcement, diplomats and intelligence people to decide the outcome in our favour.
I recently read a paper on the Arab – israelis War of 1973, I recommend it for the lesson that stuck with me. The enemy isn’t static but learning from successes and mistakes on both sides. By not doing the same we are preparing for defeat. Back to the hockey analogy, we would expect Team Canada to have scouts watching/making notes at a Russia vs USA game, so Canadians should think of foreign intelligence as scouting reports for our leaders, Forces people, police, spy catchers, and diplomats.