I have no quibble with professing our resolve to maintain the status quo and not succumbing to fear and paranoia. However, I am afraid and I believe the fear is well-founded. I am afraid that Canada has now crossed a threshold, which has a self-perpetuating quality that negates positive intention. Like it or not, this alleged terrorist plot will dominate the news cycle for years, as justice slowly moves toward a full disclosure. This fact guarantees a daily diet of negative influences, which invariably counters any desire to pretend as though things remain the same. The feelings of victimization, unfairness, exploitation may make for regular discussion amongst the Muslim community, while the non-Muslim community debates the merits of inclusiveness and perceived societal chasms. In other words, a constant debate that highlights divisions, despite the fact that the impetus is not representative of the majority.
The interesting aspect to terrorism is the fact that a handful of people can wreak such havoc, not so much with the actual violence, but the threat and the resulting paranoia. To deny this power is too ignore historical precedent, wherein rational detachment is replaced by reactionary fears. Despite our intentions, the change is already occurring and moves us toward a new reality. You don’t get to take back the plot, or the resulting backlash, it is part of the experience and the future is viewed from this lens. With this event, I firmly believe that Canada has lost its innocence and we can expect continued fallout.
I believe that we are slowly heading toward a war of cultures, with the recent events another step that widens the potential. Canada is steadily being dragged into the war on terror in a frontline capacity, as other “western” nations align themselves against the perceived threat which widens daily. As our involvement increases, coupled with the new fear, issues such as national security and war come to the forefront, primarily the domain of right leaning parties. This shift allows for an erosion of progressive values as we desire toughness over tolerance. The forces of division capitalize on the paranoia, which further exacerbates the root problems (see Bush administration).
There are ways to avoid further deterioration, but all signs point to the opposite. The new reality involves tougher security, tighter control, more surveillance with lesser cause, sensational news and tribalism. You don’t go back, the Prime Minister never again wades into the crowd to shake hands with the people, the detachment is now cemented and that isn’t insignificant. Canada will now institutionalize fear and create permanent walls. Things have changed, to pretend otherwise is to deny that events have consequences.