We do not yet know why it happened; all that is certain is the horror of what was done. On Sunday night, an attacker, dressed in black and with his face covered, burst into the Centre culturel islamique de Québec during Sunday evening prayers and began shooting. As of Monday afternoon, six people were confirmed dead with many others injured, including five in critical condition. One suspect is in custody. The Prime Minister and others have described it as terrorism.
Again, we do not yet know the reasons behind this killing spree. But we know who was attacked: Muslim Canadians. As such, the target was all Canadians, and Canada itself. Again.
In 2014, back-to-back attacks targeted two of the most important institutions representing Canadian history and values: our military and our democracy. In Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Canadian Forces Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent was killed by Martin Couture-Rouleau, who turned a car into a weapon. A few days later, Michael Zehaf-Bibeau shot Corporal Nathan Cirillo in the back as he stood on ceremonial sentry duty at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Zehaf-Bibeau then took his rifle and charged up the hill and into the Parliament Buildings themselves.
Sunday night's attack similarly took lives while targeting something precious to Canadians: freedom. Freedom of religion, and the fundamental freedom to be left alone to practise one's faith in peace. These values are at the heart of our Constitution.
The 2014 attacks were carried out by misfits on the margins of society and sanity, with delusions of starting a clash of civilizations between the West and their own half-baked ideas of Islam. The Quebec City mosque attack may turn out to have been an outbreak of madness from the other side of this imaginary war. It's a war that a small number of frustrated fanatics keep trying to ignite.
They must not succeed. On a day like today, it's worth remembering that Canada has no official religion, race or culture. That is what unites us. Every Canadian, regardless of faith or ethnic origin, is as Canadian as every other.
An attack on any Canadian, simply for exercising their constitutional right to live according to the dictates of their conscience, or because they trace their ancestry to one part of the world and not another, is an attack on all Canadians.