A day after a man mowed down pedestrians with a rented van in Toronto, it’s understandable if citizens are starting to believe that terror attacks are the new normal.
Monday’s tragedy, which killed 10 people and injured 15 more, came just a day after a gunman killed four people at a Waffle House restaurant in Nashville and a suicide bomber killed 57 people in Kabul, Afghanistan.
We’re just over six months removed from the deadly shooting rampage in Las Vegas, during the Route 91 Harvest music festival, when 58 concertgoers died and 851 were injured.
It’s hard to blame people if they feel a little less safe these days when they’re out and about in highly populated areas. The rash of attacks in recent years, using everything from bombs to guns to vehicles, has left a trail of destruction around the world, and Canada has not been immune. Some of the attacks have been linked to terrorist organizations or those who share their ideologies; others are caused by individuals with varied motivations for their actions.
Society is responding to this disturbing trend by stepping up efforts to protect citizens. As hockey fans gathered around the Air Canada Centre in downtown Toronto for Monday night’s playoff game between the hometown Maple Leafs and the visiting Boston Bruins, heavy cement blocks were set up to form a protective barrier for the expected 5,000 fans in Maple Leaf Square. In addition, dump trucks and police court services vehicles were parked to block intersections from vehicle traffic.
“Humboldt Strong” was the slogan which emerged following the recent bus crash which killed 16 members of the Humboldt Broncos junior hockey team. “Toronto Strong” might be an appropriate catchphrase as Canada’s largest city grapples with this latest tragedy, or perhaps even “Canada Strong.”
Following the Maple Leafs’ 3-1 victory which kept the team’s playoff hopes alive, Toronto coach Mike Babcock made it clear in the post-game press conference that there was more than hockey on the team’s mind.
“Changes the new normal in a family’s life forever: no mom, no dad, no brother, no sister,” said Babcock. “We’re lucky to live in such a fantastic city, great first responders and the work they’ve done. And it’s so important that we rally around these people, help ’em, do everything we can. We have a fantastic city and we can’t let this get in the way of what we’ve got going.”
With each additional case of these copycat terror acts that randomly target innocent citizens, it’s hard to fault people if they become more fearful about going out to public events and public places. And if they do venture out, perhaps they’ll be less able to enjoy themselves, keeping an eye open for suspicious activity that could signal a potential threat of harm.
That would be a shame if these random acts of violence interfere with our way of life, in a country that should be considered a safe place to live. Thankfully, these sorts of incidents are rare in Canada.
Let’s hope that continues to be the case.