In the aftermath of the bombings in Boston on Monday, there has been a massive outpouring of international support for the victims and condemnation of the attack. Governments from all over the world from China, Pakistan, Libya, Canada, and even Iran and the Muslim Brotherhood (though the Iranian condemnation came with a criticism of the U.S. Government's drone policy) have spoken out against the attacks and their perpetrator or perpetrators. Many in the U.S. have already sought to politicize the bombings, but for those whose gut reaction to this is rage: don't get too bent out of shape. Politicians like Stephen Harper are already politicizing the situation in their home countries.
When he was asked how he would've reacted to the Boston Bombings during a CBC interview, Justin Trudeau (the newly chosen head of Canada's Liberal Party) responded that he would have offered America material support while, at the same time, looking to the root causes behind the attack:
"Now, we don't know now if it was terrorism or a single crazy or a domestic issue or a foreign issue, but there is no question that this happened because there is someone who feels completely excluded. Completely at war with innocents. At war with a society. And our approach has to be, where do those tensions come from? ... Yes, there's a need for security and response, but we also need to make sure that as we go forward, that we don't emphasize a culture of fear and mistrust. Because that ends up marginalizing even further those who already are feeling like they are enemies of society."
Sounds reasonable, no? When there is a problem you don't just solve it in the most expedient way and then move on, you figure out what caused the problem in the first place and fix it so that either the problem doesn't happen again or the likelihood of it happening again is greatly reduced. Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper doesn't see it that way though, or at least not publicly. He saw Trudeau's comments as a gigantic bull's eye and took aim at his future electoral opponent:
"When you see this kind of action, when you see this kind of violent act, you do not sit around trying to rationalize it or make excuses for it or figure out its root causes ... You condemn it categorically and to the extent that you can deal with the perpetrators you deal with them as harshly as possible and that is what this government would do if it ever was faced with such actions."
In Harper's mind punishment is the final answer to this problem. It's enough to arrest, try and then punish whoever is behind the attack. That's it. A trial and punishment and the problem magically solves itself. No need to look into just what caused the murdering screwjack to take a swing at people who did nothing to them, just lock him up or lop his head off and nothing more needs to be done.
It must be a magical world that Stephen Harper lives in, and not just because of his assumption that his idea of a response and Trudeau's own are mutually exclusive. Yes, it's important that whoever it was carried out these attacks be hunted down and punished to the full extent of the law, but Harper's plan is short sighted. Not addressing the reason it happened would only leave Harper's hypothetical America vulnerable to a repeat of the attack, something that no one would want to see.
From a political standpoint, Truedeau has missed a golden opportunity to attack Harper. The Canadian election isn't until 2015, but even so it's rare for a politician to not seize the attack initiative no matter how long there is until the next fight. And make no mistake about it, Harper does deserve attacking for turning the bombing into a political game. Saying this makes me as guilty as he is of politicizing the tragedy in Boston, but once Harper's comments were made it became impossible to criticize him without doing the same.