By the end of the year some of the refugees will be with us - while Europeans deal with the daily fear that guns may blaze on their streets.

Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

November 21, 2015


There is a huge difference between passively supporting a nation’s people by training their military, providing arms and other material – and actively engaging in combat.

A Royal Canadian Air Force (RCA), CF-18 Hornet from the 4th Wing, Cold Lake, Canada, fires an AIM-7 Sparrow medium range air-to-air missile at a MQM-107E "Streaker" subscale aerial target drone over the Gulf of Mexico during a Combat Archer mission. The unit was deployed to Tyndall Air Force Base (AFB), Florida (FL). Combat Archer missions are a Weapons System Evaluation Program. (SUBSTANDARD)

A Royal Canadian Air Force (RCA), CF-18 Hornet from the 4th Wing, Cold Lake, Canada, fires an AIM-7 Sparrow medium range air-to-air missile at a MQM-107E “Streaker” subscale aerial target drone over the Gulf of Mexico during a Combat Archer mission.

Dropping laser guided bombs on a population that has never attacked you, no matter how nasty those people are, is an act of war. Helping others to defend themselves is not.

That is why our fly-boys are coming home, as much as some think we should stay and fight. The UN Charter is pretty specific about what constitutes self-defence. And Canada has been skirting international law since the day Mr. Harper sent the planes to drop bombs in Syria and Iraq. But we know air power alone will not win the war and our contribution was never anything more than token.

It’s true that the Americans, French, Russian and a few others are also bombing there. But like the officer giving a speeding motorist a ticket would say – just because all those other guys are speeding doesn’t give you the right.

The Russians could say they are in an alliance with Syria’s butcher, the French were actually attacked by the terrorists, and the Americans… well, they inadvertently created Daesh (ISIS/ISIL) didn’t they?

Police in Paris

It is a level of security that creates a lot of insecurity -is this the Paris of the future – is this the Toronto of the future?

What happened in Paris last week was horrific. But the second casualty has been the loss of freedom. France, like Canada in 1970, has introduced war measures to deal with the enemy within. Armed soldiers are on the streets, surveillance is everywhere, people can be detained on suspicion, there have been mass arrests, and ethnic profiling has become acceptable.

Suddenly Mr. Harper’s police-state legislation, Bill C-51, doesn’t look so extreme – though it is extreme. And what has happened and is happening in France and the rest of Europe will, no doubt, instruct the promised re-write of that law.

The third casualty is the refugee crisis. What happened in Paris is influencing the future for the hundreds of thousands of people who have fled Syria and are holed up in camps in Turkey and Lebanon, or migrating haltingly across western Europe. Some European nations are building barbed wire fences to keep them out.

While Mr. Trudeau generously promised to bring 25,000 here by the end of the year, not everyone agrees with him. But the mayors in our major cities do. As do all the provincial premiers save that guy in Saskatchewan. Only the defeated Tories are complaining that it can never be done by the end of the year.

Still, Canada’s zeal to help is not shared universally south of the border. Most US state governors have now gone gun-shy – in a land abounding with firearms, including assault rifles and hand guns. This is a land where over 11,000 people were killed by gun violence in 2013 alone.

There are almost a hundred thousand people injured by firearms, and a thousand killed in some kind of gun accident every year. In 2013 over 33,000 people were killed by firearms, not counting those people shot by the police. Meanwhile, the horrific atrocities in Paris yielded fewer than 150 fatalities by comparison.


Refugees being herded as they move through Europe looking for a safe place to live their lives.

These refugees we are talking about are primarily families, now living in camps hosted by Lebanon and Turkey. They have been thoroughly vetted by those nations and UN agencies, and will be again by our own people. It is always possible that an ISIS terrorist could slip through. But then we’re probably at greater risk from those radicalized here at home. No, this really a case of ignorance, paranoia, racism and bigotry.

We are told that this conflict with Daesh is not about religion, and yet we know it is. The people committing these acts, these crimes against humanity, do so in the name of their god and their religion. And that threatens their own freedom of religion. For example, the Swiss have banned new Muslim minarets and the French have banned face coverings, including the ‘niqab’ in public places. Further, we are now seeing hate crime incidents emerge, even here in Canada.

The French have declared war on ISIS and if they, the Russians, Iranians and others actually put enough boots on the ground, this could well be the end of days for Daesh. But the terrorists may still win in the end. That is if they can force us to give up our freedom and our civil rights. Once that is gone, can democracy and our way of life be far behind?

Recent events are already changing the face of Europe, the birthplace of democracy. The 2008 economic collapse has pitted the rich against the poor. Russia’s Ukrainian invasion has divided the former Soviet states and satellites from those further away from the big bear. And now the refugee crisis is further testing the very idea of a European community.

The upshot is the growth of the Eurosceptic class. For example, Britain’s David Cameron is half-way out the door unless the EU devolves to nothing more than a trade deal. And further to his right is the up and coming French neo-fascist, Marine Le Pen, calling for an end to immigration and a break up of the EU. Le Pen’s leadership model is Russian president Putin and his style of democracy. Her party has reportedly been accepting funding from Mr. Putin, as well.

refugee + heart

Will Canadians have the grace, dignity, forbearance and tolerance to accept the 25,000 refugees the federal government wants to bring to the country. How ill Burlington react to those who are sponsored by churches and other groups in this city?

The dream of a pan-European federation with half a billion peaceful and industrious people is at risk. Imagine combining the British tradition of democracy, French ideals of liberty, Dutch and Scandinavian notions of tolerance and justice, and German economic smarts into one formidable nation state. It’s either that or a return to pre-WWII nationalism, and we know where that will lead. The terrorists will have won.



Ray Rivers writes weekly on both federal and provincial politics, applying his more than 25 years as a federal bureaucrat to his thinking. Rivers was a candidate for provincial office in Burlington where he ran as a Liberal against Cam Jackson in 1995, the year Mike Harris and the Common Sense Revolution swept the province.


Background links:


Breaking International Law        UN Charter   Legal Bombing      War Measures

US Gun violence        Surveillance

France ISIS Fight

Hollande Security


Le Pen

Return to the Front page
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

3 comments to By the end of the year some of the refugees will be with us – while Europeans deal with the daily fear that guns may blaze on their streets.

  • Ray Rivers

    For Mr. Jacobs – Ne projicias infantem cum bathwater


  • Excellent article, Ray. I’m not convinced the American creation of DA’ESH was “inadvertent”. But, after 9/11 I was sent around on behalf of my government agency to speak to large public and private sector groups about terrorism. I always closed my presentations with the admonition: “Don’t do the terrorists’ work for them.” Yet I was convinced that, as a source of terror, the rhetoric of the Bush administration was far more potent throughout the population than the isolated incidents, however large they were, of terrorist acts.

  • Hans Jacobs

    The “one formidable nation state” experiment has already failed; e.g., the Euro currency interferes with the normal use of monetary policy (management of interest rates and money supply) to control the member countries’ economies, contributing to the Greek economic disaster, and elimination of borders has exacerbated the refugee/migrant chaos.
    Res ipsa loquitur.