Today is October 22, the four year anniversary of the terrorist attack on Parliament Hill.
On the morning of October 22, 2014, Michael Zehaf-Bibeau shot and killed Cpl Nathan Cirillo at the National War Memorial before storming Centre Block.
As he ran down the central corridor firing bullets from his rifle, then Prime Minister Stephen Harper was meeting with his caucus on one side while Opposition Leader Tom Mulcair was meeting his NDP caucus on the other side.
Any one of the MPs stepping out of the caucus room at the wrong time could have been killed by one of those bullets. I was on the Hill minutes after the bullets flew and I was at the National War Memorial shortly after that.
It was a tough day having your city, our nation’s capital, come under attack.
We found out later that Zehaf-Bibeau acted alone, inspired by jihadis around the world.
It was a terrorist act.
In the House of Commons today MPs stood and memorialized the attack on Parliament Hill and the attack two days earlier in St. Jean-sur-Richlieu that killed Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau even announced he and his Liberal government would support a Conservative motion calling for a plan, within 45 days, to bring Canadian ISIS fighters to justice.
It will be a nice bit of theatre for the Liberals to do this because even as they announced their support for the motion they continue to support reduced sentences for terrorism offences.
Bill C-75, currently before the House of Commons, calls for a whole raft of crimes to be treated under summary conviction.
That includes terrorism offences.
- Participation in activity of terrorist group
- Leaving Canada to participate in activity of terrorist group
- Advocating or promoting commission of terrorism offences
- Concealing person who carried out terrorist activity
- Concealing person who is likely to carry out terrorist activity
These offences currently have sentences ranging from a maximum of five years to 14 years in prison.
Under Trudeau’s Bill C-75, that could be reduced to a maximum of six months in prison.
The changes being brought in by the Liberals allow for each of those offences to proceed via summary conviction. Under the criminal code, the rules are clear, maximum six months in jail.
787 (1) Unless otherwise provided by law, everyone who is convicted of an offence punishable on summary conviction is liable to a fine of not more than five thousand dollars or to a term of imprisonment not exceeding six months or to both.
Are these the actions of a government that takes terrorism seriously?
So while Trudeau stands up and tells Parliament that he is dealing with the issue of returning ISIS fighters and that it is a criminal code offence to leave Canada and join a group like ISIS, he isn’t telling the whole truth.
He isn’t telling Canadians that he’d like to see some of these fighters spend a maximum of six months in jail for joining this heinous group.
This is not the only problem with Bill C-75. It has been attacked from the left and the right, defence lawyers, law and order advocates.
It reduces sentences for many awful crimes. I’ll get into those flaws another day.
Suffice to say that this is simply the outlook of the current Liberal government.
Liberals are often branded, sometimes unfairly, of being soft on crime.
In this case, Justin Trudeau is soft on crime, and on terrorism.
That is something people should remember when they head to cast their ballot next year.