March 21st, 2017
Terrorism threatens not only innocent lives, but also our collective sense of security.
It is for this reason that the death of failed terrorist Aaron Driver, 24, in Strathroy, Ont. last week hit Canadians so hard.
I was among the first three journalists at the scene of the police standoff in front of Driver’s southwestern Ontario house Wednesday — arriving just two hours after the explosion that injured a cab driver and left Driver dead (whether by his own bomb or by police shooting we don’t yet know.)
Though I had suspicions that the scene in Strathroy was connected to the RCMP’s vague press release regarding “credible information of a potential terrorist threat,” there was no official corroboration of this hunch.
In fact, there was no communication of any kind from authorities about the situation unfolding in the town of 12,000, which sits less than 37 kilometres west of London.
In Strathroy, neighbours wondered what was happening as tactical vehicles, bomb-defusing robots and police snipers remained in position until late into the evening—upwards of four hours after Driver was killed, we now know.
Apart from orders for those inside the security perimeter to remain in their homes and for those outside the perimeter to stay there, police said nothing.
Even as reports emerged that Driver, a known terrorist sympathizer, was involved and had been killed, it was unclear whether there was still an active public safety threat.
Fear outweighed confidence as Canadians had to rely on assumptions and media reports to piece together what was happening.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau didn’t even emerge from his extended vacation to assure Canadians he was monitoring the situation, let alone that the necessary resources were being devoted to maintaining public safety and order.
His itinerary has listed each day for the last three weeks as “personal,” which hasn’t changed in the days since.
Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale issued a statement Wednesday night, saying that he had spoken to the Trudeau about the situation. Goodale also addressed media the following day, after the RCMP’s press conference on the Strathroy situation.
But it took Trudeau himself more than 25 hours from the time of the explosion to tweet his gratitude to the RCMP “for their work in Strathroy yesterday,” without issuing any statement regarding cooperation with the FBI, the threat of terrorism and homegrown radicalization, or anything other than Canada’s Olympic successes, for that matter.
Apparently his vacation came first.
I was off the clock as well when I learned what was happening in Strathroy. That didn’t stop me from showing up. Trudeau took no such action.
A statement from Trudeau may not have alleviated the concerns of Strathroy’s residents — one of whom distraughtly waited for hours outside the security perimeter as her two teenage children were barricaded in the house next door to the standoff — but was imperative for the rest of the country to know that Canada would stand strong and together.
We now know that Driver’s dreams of dead Canadians have been dashed, and what could have been heralded as an ISIS coup is instead an embarrassing failure.
Before these things became clear, we needed a leader. In the face of terror, Trudeau wasn’t it.
Lawton is the host of the Andrew Lawton Show on AM980 in London, Ont.