26 June, 2022


End Of Innocence In Canada, Sri Lanka Declared “Unstoppable”

By Rajan Philips

Rajan Philips

Rajan Philips

Last Wednesday was a day of mayhem in Canada’s parliament that sent political shockwaves throughout the world. The gunfire in Canada’s parliament was next to nothing in scale compared to attacks elsewhere, but that an attack could take place in the Canadian parliament stunned political watchers everywhere. The Canadian government’s recent decision to add its mite to the fight against the upstart Islamic State in Iraq and Syria led to speculation that the IS was targeting Canada in retaliation. World leaders expressed sympathy and solidarity in statements and in tweets as the cable and the social media broke into ‘ball by ball’ reporting and commentating. Sri Lanka’s President tweeted his message of concern, and his Defence Secretary brother tried to stretch through time and space a parallel between Sri Lanka in 1983 and Canada in 2014. In the end it turned out that it was a lone gunman and his mental and drug problems rather than his political religiosity that created the mayhem in the Canadian parliament and shut down the nation’s capital for a good part of one day. By Friday, as Canada was coming to terms with what happened in its parliament in Ottawa, in its characteristically modest and measured way, President Rajapaksa went to his parliament in Kotte, and delivered his pre-election budget speech, entitled rather vainly: “Unstoppable Sri Lanka”.

Regardless of the personal circumstances of the lone gunman, it is the political circumstances of his actions that is defining the narrative of last week’s mayhem. Under the current Conservative government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Canada has veered from its long standing tradition of liberal idealism in foreign policy, as opposed to realpolitik, and middle power diplomacy, independent of the United States, that has been nurtured by Liberal Prime Ministers like Lester Pearson and Pierre Trudeau, and followed by their successors including Conservative Prime Minister Brian Mulroney and Liberal Prime Minister Jean Chretien. Instead, the Harper government has taken Canada on a foreign policy path that is stridently pro-Israel and more consistent with the worldview of US Republicans. Under Prime Minister Chretien, Canada opted to stay out of the US invasion of Iraq in 2003. As Canada’s Leader of the Opposition at that time, Stephen Harper not only opposed the Chretien-government’s decision in parliament but also took centre page in US papers criticizing the Canadian government.

Canada Shooting

Floral tributes to Cpl.Nathan Cirillo who was killed in the attack sit at the National War Memorial in Ottawa Photo courtesy: Sean Kilpatrick/AP

After Obama’s election as US President, the Harper government has tried to act independent of US foreign policy but for opposite reasons. Jean Chretien, now retired, rejoined Canada’s internal debate over its foreign policy by publicly criticizing the Harper-government’s decision to join the fight against the Islamic State. Instead, Chretien argued, Canada should massively fund and support humanitarian efforts in the Middle East and open its doors generously to Syrian refugees. Unlike any time in the past, the present Canadian government is also accused of shaping the country’s foreign policy to appeal to its core constituency of ideological conservatives. The government’s decision to join the fight against ICIS is also seen as a gamble for the elections due in 2015.

Two days before the Ottawa mayhem, two Canadian soldiers were run down and injured in a shopping mall parking lot in Quebec. One of the soldiers later succumbed to his injuries. The man accused of running them down and subsequently killed during the police chase, has been identified as Martin Courture-Rouleau, a 25 year old French Canadian contractor who converted to Islam about a year ago. Within hours of the Quebec incident, and before any statement by the Provincial Police or the RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police), the Harper government went public with the allegation that the hit-and-run may have been the act of a terrorist. Mr. Harper himself added to the allegation in his response in parliament to what was seen as a pre-arranged question by a government backbencher. Two days later all hell broke in Ottawa. The lone gunman in Ottawa, now identified as 32 year old Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, first shot and killed a Canadian reserve Corporal standing in ceremonial guard with an unloaded gun at the National War Memorial across from Parliament Hill, and then rushed into the parliament building where he was shot and killed during an exchange of gunfire by the Sergeant-at-Arms of the House of Commons, Kevin Vickers. The routine bearer of the ceremonial mace became the day’s hero. A former police officer, Mr. Vickers averted what could have become a huge tragedy if the gunman had entered one of the meeting rooms as MPs were having their parliamentary group meetings in different rooms.

Pathology and Perversion of Islam

The RCMP has ruled out any connection between the Montreal and Ottawa incidents. No connection has been established either between the incidents in Canada and the Islamic State operations in the Middle East. But the two incidents, occurring of places in Canada, have forced into relief the transnational network of the Islamic State operators in the Middle East and their far flung supporters in Western countries and elsewhere. It is more than a network, for it is a hotchpotch of radicals drawing their radicalism from a perversion of Islam and including in their numbers not just Arabs and Muslims but new converts from other racial, ethnic and religious backgrounds. There are Chinese among the Jihadists, and young women from abroad are being lured by a combination of violence and domesticity to go to Iraq or Syria to join the fight or be wives of fighters. It is now reported that former American, Canadian and Western army men are individually joining the Kurdish army to fight the Islamic State fighters. The old Levant has become a new battleground where citizenship and nationality have lost their meaning.

The two Canadian perpetrators exemplify these trends and also illustrate the ingredient of pathology in the mix. Michael Zehaf-Bibeau is the son of a high flying Canadian businessman father of Libyan descent and a French Canadian mother, who is a Deputy Chair in a Federal Immigration Board. They sent their son to a private French Language school known for strict discipline, but after leaving school the boy fell off the wagon. He broke away from his parents and got into drugs and petty crimes. He tried to find solace in Islam and frequented Mosques but did not get along with other Muslim worshippers because he was rude and objected to their inter-faith initiatives with other religions.  As for Martin Courture-Rouleau, he was a successful French Canadian owner of a pressure-washing company who became a Muslim convert about a year ago and was known to have been part of a radical network. The RCMP was on his trail and stopped his attempt to travel to Turkey (the gateway to Syria) in July, but did not have sufficient ground to arrest or detain him. On the other hand, Michael Zehaf-Bibeau was not on the police radar until he surfaced in Ottawa.

It is known that Canadian security agencies have their sights on about 93 “high risk travelers” to be prevented from going to the Middle East, but none has been arrested. It is also reported that about 30 Canadians are part of the Islamic State fighters in Syria and Iraq and a further 130 are involved in radical activities elsewhere. Their passports are said to have been revoked. Britain, the US and European countries are facing similar problems. While there are only speculations about the motives and the triggers behind the radicalization of youth schooled and socialized in western societies, there is greater information about their activities once their join a radical network. The reason is that part of their radicalization is their exhibitionism, and their compulsive use of the social media as daily diaries makes the tracking job of security agencies much easier than it used to be.  At the same time, it is the internet that facilitates the current process of radicalization. Why non-Muslims are attracted to Islamic radicalization is another puzzle.

Not surprisingly, the Canadian handling of the Ottawa mayhem and its aftermath has not gone unnoticed. What a US media commentator praised as “master class in calm, credible breaking-news reporting”, on the part of the national Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (particularly in comparison to the US media vultures), could be extended to everyone – the City police, the RCMP, parliamentary and civic officials, the Prime Minister, other political leaders, and the society at large – who responded to the crisis swiftly and proportionately. There was no overreaction at the official level, no hysteria in word or deed in the wider society, and there was no targeting of Muslims unlike in Aluthgama. To draw a comparison between what happened in Ottawa and what happened in Sri Lanka in 1983, would be an exercise in military ignorance and not political intelligence. If one is to find a comparison, it should be to the FLQ crisis of the 1970s, when a group of French separatists took to kidnapping and murder to intimidate the Provincial Government in Quebec. And there are plenty of lessons that all Sri Lankans can learn from the way Canada under Prime Minister Trudeau handled that crisis.

The current crisis is a different one and it has nothing to do with Canada’s internal situation unlike the FLQ crisis forty years ago. If the emergence of the Islamic State is the unintended outcome of the invasion of Iraq in 2003, is fighting the Islamic State the only answer to that problem? Or, is fighting alone enough to address that problem? As Canada’s Prime Minister in 2003 and as its elder Statesman now, Jean Chretien has been consistent in pointing out that launching new wars in the Middle East will only aggravate the colonial legacy of bitterness and suspicion among the Arab people. While it is necessary to contain and destroy the brutal machinery (all assembled from the leftovers of western armies) of the Islamic State, that alone is not sufficient as a solution to the fundamental and broader problems in the Middle East, either in the short term or in the long term.

Turning to Sri Lanka, given its geography and its history, it can easily avoid being implicated in the turmoil in the Middle East and its extensions elsewhere. Sri Lanka’s implications, if any, are solely the result of externalizing its internal problems to avoid accepting the more inclusive solutions to them. The Tamil question has its own history and regardless of who is right and who is wrong, there are plenty of people and there is plenty of material to keep debating endlessly as to who is right and who is wrong. Picking on the Muslims, on the other hand, is a patented misadventure initiated by the present government. It is plain dumb for anyone in the government to strategize that by alienating the Muslims and befriending Israel, the Sri Lankan government can curry favour with the West and turn the tables on the Tamils in their UNHRC encounters. The Sri Lankan people deserve better than to have government strategists who would think that their flawed foreign policy approach can be validated by events such as the recent incidents in Canada. No one is stopping Sri Lanka from going anywhere for President Rajapaksa to assert that Sri Lanka is unstoppable. The question is whether he thinks that his presidency should be unstoppable for Sri Lanka to be unstoppable.

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Latest comments

  • 10

    ” Sri Lanka’s President tweeted his message of concern, and his Defence Secretary brother tried to stretch through time and space a parallel between Sri Lanka in 1983 and Canada in 2014″
    I don’t know what he tweeted, but if he compared this incident to 1983, then he is an idiot.


    • 0

      Rajan Philips –

      RE: End Of Innocence In Canada, Sri Lanka Declared “Unstoppable”

      ” Last Wednesday was a day of mayhem in Canada’s parliament that sent political shockwaves throughout the world. The gunfire in Canada’s parliament was next to nothing in scale compared to attacks elsewhere, but that an attack could take place in the Canadian parliament stunned political watchers everywhere.”

      Terrorism, Founders of ISIS.

      Noam Chomsky: ISIS is a Saudi& U.S. -made product

      Published on Sunday, 26 October 2014 1

      Noam Chomsky, the famous American scholar, Professor Emeritus and astute political commentator believes the so-called Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) is the joint US and Saudi product accusing the American administration of adopting a hypocritical approach toward the Iraqi central government.

      Chomsky, an outstanding Jewish American linguistics scholar and Noble Prize laureate, said that the American administration did not directly helped ISIL but rather through its oil-rich Arab allies like Qatar provides the hardline organization with lethal weaponry and financial support.

      “U.S. administration used ISIL as a scarecrow to frighten Arab monarchs from the fanatic terrorists which Arab regimes themselves have nourished and assisted over the past three years,” said Mr. Chomsky in an interview with the Al-Ahram Egyptian daily newspaper, adding that Obama administration’s policies are in contrast with its previous commitments to the Iraqi government concerning the fight against ISIL insurgents.

      According to Prof. Chomsky, should Washington was sincere and serious in dealing with terrorists it would take proper actions against the Saudi regime which adopts a pernicious state- terrorism policy and considered to be the menacing source of extremism in the Middle-East and North Africa.

      Noam Chomsky further added that ISIL is a joint CIA, MI6 and Mossad project and indeed this terrorist cult over the past year was successful to fulfill U.S. essential objectives in the volatile Middle-Eastern countries such as toppling the government of the Iraqi outgoing Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki’s, obtaining a greater level of autonomy for Kurds and frightening naïve Arabs from ISIS’ creeping threat and making them to buy more U.S.-made weaponry.

      “I believe the creation of ISIL is one of the most brilliant and dazzling CIA achievements since the beginning of this century,” said the American distinguished scientist.

  • 9

    Sri Lanka is truly unstoppable in its headlong plunge into authoritarianism bolstered by military and police who owe their anti democratic behaviour and luxurious living to the ruling family caucus whose handouts they savour in return for enforcement of the police state.
    Comparing Canada with our police state in any manner is a gross insult to Canada.
    Canada has the finest free health care services, clean elections, incorruptible public services, finest judiciary, full complete equality of all immigrants and citizens, democratic multiculturalism and democratic governance.
    The recent incidents have not been used to accuse any international groups.

  • 0

    Is our Srilanka part of Levant?…

    • 1

      Who is ‘us’ ?.
      Lankans, Indians, Africans, Chinese, Japs, Yanks, Barmy Army, Tamils, Sinhalese, Muslims, Jews, Veddaas, Aberogines…..?.

  • 1

    SL President held both hands of the LTTE proxy TNA leader. Mr Sambandan and invited him to join the efforts of the Government to develop the Country, and enable the inhabitants to live peacefully as one nation and provide a better , prosperous future for their children and grandchildren.

    But he categorically stated the the Provincial Councils won’t get their own Police and the control of Land.

    Can this President or any President for that matter, dismember the country in to nine different Police Forces and nine different Land Banks under nine different politicians, and promise the inhabitants that they can live peacefully and in harmony and give their kids and grand kids a prosperous future?.

    Will inhabitants agree to dismember the Country at the next election?..

    Isn’t Canada one of the major players who are working hard to ‘stop” the President and facilitate the dismemberment?..

    • 3

      K.A Sumanasekera

      “Will inhabitants agree to dismember the Country at the next election?.. “

      You should ask presidential astrologers. Hopefully Sumanadasa Abeygunawardena should be able to tell you what exactly is going to happen.

      Also consult Sumanasri Bandara, S J Samarakone, and others.

  • 2

    Canadians got their panties in a bunch over the murder of one soldier – now how exactly would they react if someone decides to do a ‘We Thamizh’ on them and murder tens of thousands of civilians,soldiers and carry out weekly suicide attacks in Ottawa :D

    • 1

      Harper would be directing his forces from within the closet where he took refuge.

  • 5

    Wee Thamizh D:Siva Sankaran Sarma Menon

    Sorry I am lost.

    However it is a brilliant comment.

  • 1

    “ the Islamic State is the unintended outcome of the invasion of Iraq in 2003 “
    This is questionable. There were Muslims doing the US bidding in Afghanistan under Osama bin Ladin and others. There were the “Chechens” creating mayhem in Russian Chechnia and Ingushetia and the well known Beslan massacre destabilising Eurasia. Then they appeared in Kosovo alongside NATO intent on destroying and dismantling Yugoslavia. There Muslim brethren in the KLA achieved notoriety by trading in human organs, and yet they run Kosovo today under the guiding arm of the USA. . If they did have a role in Iraq, it largely went unnoticed. Iraq was reduced and left with an unstable government, though they somehow got rid of the US military, unwilling to leave once it gets a foothold. The country is today in a maelstrom costing 200 or so lives every single day.
    Then there were those Muslims brigades from Libya, Tunisia etc. fighting ‘against’ the US in Iraq, but visiting and hobnobbing with the US Senators. They were instrumental in ridding Libya of it’s stable government under Col. Gaddafi, and the result anarchy that exists to this day. Another of the US/CIA stooges sent in to take over the country, Col. Hiftar, now elevated to General has been unable to do so, so far. In the aftermath the Libyan weaponry was openly sent to Syria (by ambassador Stephens who was murdered in Banghazi) via Turkey and Jordan, in addition to the ‘jihadists’ who were privileged to take ‘selfies’ with the likes of John McCain. The NATO-sponsored ‘Syrian’ insurgency is anything but Syrian. Aleppo, the ancient city which had stood for seven millennia is now in ruins, but he Syrians are still bravely defending their ancient civilization, unwilling to accept US hegemony.
    The US and it’s allies, NATO and regional, have been supplying the Syrian insurgency with renewed vigour transferring old Soviet era weapons flown in from Eastern Europe. Brand new Toyotas (hilux) by the thousands and other weapons arrived via the gulf countries whose leaders are dependent on the US goodwill for their own existence. Those ill-famed Orange prison garb from Guantanamo and Abu Gharaib were highly visible too. At times they appear to be working at cross purposes, but this is deceptive. ISIL, it’s creation, seems to be the latest attempt by the US to return to Iraq and the 14 large military bases it had originally planned. The ubiquitous “Chechens” are here too. While ISIL has been making headway in Iraq, US and NATO participants are busy bombing Syria. Two oil refineries were taken out as were some grain silos as were reported and now plans are being hatched to bomb oil pipelines. ISIL leaders have come under scrutiny. Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov says the ISIL terrorist group’s leader, Ibrahim Samarrai who is known by the alias Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, works for the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and is financially supported by western secret services. His ‘Muslim Arab’ credentials have been questioned too. The foot soldiers who serve these secretive leaders have no inkling as to who they serve and the purpose. What we do know is that ISIL/ISIS/IS is NOT an unintended consequence..

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