The recent death of two Canadian soldiers and their assailants compells me to comment – if not for your benefit then simply to retain my own sense of clarity.
I have trouble dignifying what happened to Corporal Nathan Cirillo and Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent by labelling them terrorist attacks. Certainly many people (on several sides of the issue) see a great benefit in calling them terrorists but these despicable acts did not make the assailants martyrs. Both were alienated people with an extensive history of psychological issues. These are classic suicides by cop.
To fortify the terrorism argument, we hear the assailants described as "lone wolf terrorists." By virtue of the "lone wolf" scenario, we are also suggesting no one would work in concert with them, hence they had known, yet unaddressed psychological issues. There is no public pronouncement from either assailant, suggesting a far more inward mindset involved in a personal rather than global struggle. The media directs them to specific news and web sites that permit some form of cloudy solution to their anguished lifestyle.
Both assailants were easily cornered and made immediate lethal threats toward police. Both knew or expected their opponents – those pursuing them – would be well armed. No serious escape plan had been reasoned out because none was expected.
The mental instability of both assailants had been long known by family members, health, social and law enforcement agencies. The fact Jihadists wish to claim credit for their acts is similar to a farmer boasting that a stock of wheat thriving in a ditch is due to his superior cultivation skills.
The only thing the media wanted to hear after Cirillo's death was that it was a terrorist attack. This plays well and is sure to attract viewer attention for many weeks. Reporters no longer have to look for obscure, mediocre stories about kittens and kids (though they surely will). Ratings (and ad revenue) will soar. Its all about the numbers of eyeballs on screens and pages.
Of course the pressure is on the politicians like never before. It was no more than 24 hours after the death of Cirillo that we heard the government pronounce it will create tougher laws for the benefit of law enforcement personnel. The dirty little secret here is that it costs the government nothing to make laws and deflects the pressure from the politicians to police... once again.
I call this "winning the wind." Politicians win because they are seen to be doing something; the media wins with a story and the public wins with the belief that real progress has been made.
Just how overstretched and underfunded police, prosecution and prison systems will handle the increase is never discussed. This is another win for politicians. Police don't have the budgets or staff to begin feeding more bodies to the courts or prisons, which couldn't handle them even if they did. Starving the enforcement end prevents the rest of the system from backing up.
Evidence you say? British Columbia learned this little trick back in the mid 80s when it told police agencies they can't lay charges without first getting approval from the Criminal Justice Branch. That means everything from driving offences to murder. Prosecutors are tied at the hip to the politicians, who allocate the money for courts, prisons and the front end loaders (police). Controlling the front end controls everything else up the food chain. The public is spun a justification and everyone wins the wind.
Those who treat psychological problems and mental illness don't have the budgets to properly treat all the suffering people. The arrival of miracle psychotropic drugs in the 1970s, '80s and beyond reduced the need for staff, bricks and mortar.
Pack 'em with drugs and set them free on an unsuspecting public rather than provide therapy, support and other services to help patients adapt and live successfully in society. Institute new rules making it tougher for cops to have patients admitted for treatment and viola... you can close and tear down buildings and lay off staff. Here's the best part... you can blame the cops for not keeping us safe. We all win the wind again.
This is an unsustainable paradigm which needs to be revamped from the ground up. Politicians must learn to curb their parsimonious ways when it comes to hard-ball issues such as cops, courts, jails and health.
Oh, and get some guns on the hips of those parliamentary cops.