Canadians need to abandon the notion that their country is invulnerable to terrorism in order to be better prepared for an attack like the one that struck London last week, federal Public Safety Minister Anne McLellan said Monday.
The efforts in recent years of police and the Canada Security Intelligence Service make it clear Canada is a terrorist target, but Canadians still seem oblivious to the danger, McLellan told an international conference on disaster management.
"CSIS and the RCMP, among other law enforcement agencies, have made it plain that there exists in this country those who might very well choose, either themselves or with others, to do harm," McLellan said.
I do not believe that Canadians are as psychologically prepared for a terrorist attack as I think probably we all should be," McLellan said. Nor is Canada immune to attacks just because it didn't participate in the Iraq war, she added.
"I think we have perhaps for too long thought that these were things that happen somewhere else . . . the self-image we may have of ourselves, it may be accurate, but completely irrelevant in the world in which we live."
However inadvertently, Ms. McLellan has stumbled upon a painful truth that lies at the heart of the Canadian psyche; our collective national narcissism could be a threat to our national security.
Canadians are told every day, in the press, in academe, by government, that not only are we the most wonderfully tolerant, diverse and fantastic country in the world, but also that everybody else thinks that way about Canada too.
You can see it in the self-congratulation whenever the United Nations puts us at the top of its bogus human development index. It's the lead story for days.
It's even more apparent in the myth that American tourists sew Canadian flags on their backpacks so they won't get insulted or attacked overseas.
This narcissistic theme is drummed into us in school from an early age, in social studies textbooks that praise modern-day Canada as the most advanced of all nations (while, of course, denigrating its history prior to about 1965).
We have the best of everything--the best healthcare, the best peacekeepers, the best education system, the freest government, the best human rights record, etc. etc., and the world loves us for it.
This self-apotheosis goes far beyond normal and healthy expressions of patriotic pride; it is as though Canada exists solely to be praised by others, and in reality, is a sign of deep insecurity about our own national identity.
A terrorist attack would be a death blow to that narcissism. It would leave us wondering why we were attacked. Is it possible that not everybody loves Canada?
Our chattering classes would be struck dumb, for once, by the force of the failure of their own rhetoric.
Mature nations, secure in their national identity, don't need every nation's love and affection, and know that many will hate them for who and what they represent. The Americans, British and Australians don't waste time with this sort of navel-gazing; neither should we.
Source: National Post