Conservative MP Pierre Poilievre: “The root cause of terrorism is terrorists.”

Julian Wolfe
April 27th, 2013

The Conservative government came out swinging at Liberal leader Justin Trudeau again Thursday about statements he made on terrorism. Meanwhile, the Conservatives had some statements of their own. Prime Minister Stephen Harper said it wasn’t the time to “commit sociology” and his MP Pierre Poilievre said “The root cause of terrorism is terrorists.”

The Conservatives are still at it, spending more time attacking Trudeau than actually dealing with terrorists. The Conservative approach appears to state that rather than try to prevent terrorism, the role of the government is to arrest the terrorists. The Conservative approach believes that rather than learn from an attack and apply the knowledge to providing better tools to the police and immigration officials, the solutions and ways to deal with such a complex and dangerous act are as simplistic as saying that “the root cause of terrorism is terrorists.”

Thursday, Prime Minister Stephen Harper took another desperate swipe at Justin Trudeau. In Trinidad, Harper told a press conference that terrorist attacks are not a time to “commit sociology.”

“I think, though, this is not a time to commit sociology, if I can use an expression,” Harper said. “These things are serious threats, global terrorist attacks, people who have agendas of violence that are deep and abiding threats to all the values our society stands for.

“I don’t think we want to convey any view to the Canadian public other than our utter condemnation of this kind of violence, contemplation of this violence and our utter determination through our laws and our activities to do everything we can to prevent it and counter it,” Harper said.

On CBC’s Power and Politics, just hours after Harper’s statement, MP Pierre Poilievre was asked to clarify his comments.

“Nothing, but that’s not the issue,” he responded. Poilievre said Trudeau mishandled his response to the Boston bombings.

“When Peter Mansbridge looked Trudeau in the eye and said there’s just been an attack in Boston, you’re Prime Minister, what do you do?

“The right answer would have been: I’ll immediately contact the RCMP and CSIS to ensure there are no threats in Canada. I checked with border services to see if anyone has passed the border that we need to be concerned about. I’ve contacted the White House to offer collaboration in preventing any further attacks and capturing the perpetrators. I publicly condemn the evil that has been undertaken and I make sure there are services provided for officials in the United States and to any Canadians potentially effected. That would have been the right answer.”

While the Conservatives seemed focused on root causes, Trudeau’s interview went beyond root causes.

“First thing, you offer support and sympathy and condolences and can we send down EMTs as we contributed after 9/11. Is there any material – immediate – support we have?” Trudeau said.

Peter Mansbridge told Trudeau that the Americans were moving people as a safety precaution in case the attack was something larger. The question then became: would you pick up the phone and call the RCMP, CSIS and border control, armed forces?

“Of course,” Trudeau responded instantaneously, “I would be worried about what specific targets there are, but there will always be more targets, more shopping centers, more public events, more gatherings than we can evacuate or we can deal with. Yes, there is a need for security and and response and being proactive and making sure we have information but we also need to make sure that as we go forward we don’t emphasise a culture of fear and mistrust.”

However both Harper and Poilievre dismissed the situation, Harper saying there’s no need to “commit sociology” and Poilievre, once perused by Power and Politics Host Evan Solomon, gave an interesting response.

“The root causes of terrorism is terrorists,” Poilievre said. “That’s how we respond.”

While the Conservatives currently try to condemn any talk of root causes, Defence Minister and British Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron have referred to root causes in the past.

Upon responding to terrorist attacks in Norway in 2011, MacKay said, “in a demonstration of, to use your word the volatility that’s still there, the vigilance we have to demonstrate, persevere and work together to find the root causes but also pre-empt and interrupt these types of attacks.

At the 2011 Munich Security Conference, British Prime Minister David Cameron told the conference, “We have got to get to the root of the problem, we need to be absolutely clear on where the origins of where these terrorist attacks lie.”

Given the context of the controversy surrounding the root causes of terrorism, do you agree with Trudeau or Harper? Would you say Stephen Harper’s stance on terrorism is the best of judgement or nothing but political opportunity?

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