Terrorism doesn't fit into Justin Trudeau's sunny views. The Prime Minister didn't see fit to join the hundreds of Quebeckers who gathered on Monday to honour the memory of the six Quebeckers killed by Islamist terrorists in Ouagadougou, although the day before he made a point of visiting a mosque in Peterborough, Ont., that had been damaged by arson.
Six humanitarian workers from Lac-Beauport, a suburb of Quebec City, were killed last Friday in Burkina Faso's capital in attacks claimed by a group known as al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. The day before, another Quebecker, Tahar Amer-Ouali, was killed in a terrorist attack by the Islamic State in Jakarta. Not since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, have so many Canadians died in terrorist attacks.
Apparently, the Prime Minister's Office didn't see the point in changing Mr. Trudeau's schedule so that he could attend the grieving ceremony in Lac-Beauport on Monday. The least he could have done would have been to express a bit of emotion and anger. "Instead," wrote La Presse columnist Vincent Marissal, "what we had were a mild condemnation and empty words, and nothing about the government's plan to fight terrorism."
Mr. Trudeau reacted to the tragedy that struck home with a feeble, conventional expression of condolences, as if he were a reluctant visitor to a funeral home. In a statement issued Saturday, he said he was "deeply saddened by the senseless acts of violence against innocent civilians," phrasing that suggests these acts were done randomly by a few mad people with no specific agenda.
Last November, he had the same reaction to the mass killings in Paris. Alone among world leaders – even U.S. President Barack Obama departed from his characteristic phlegm to express his revolt at the attacks and resolve in fighting terrorism – Mr. Trudeau reacted with a brief and spineless expression of condolences that left many observers puzzled.
The Paris attacks were not enough to change his plan to recall Canadian fighter jets from the coalition fighting the Islamic State. He stuck to his candid pacifist stand even as the other members of the coalition were stepping up their military efforts. The result is that Canada has lost its standing among its allies.
Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan was shut out of a high-level strategic meeting between the coalition partners being held Wednesdayin Paris. Even Italy and the Netherlands will be represented, but Canada's chair will be empty.
The government hasn't yet announced the plan that is supposed to replace the fighter jets mission, nor did it say how it intends to protect the hundreds of Canadians involved in humanitarian work in Africa (about a dozen Quebec non-governmental organizations are operating in Burkina Faso).
Former prime minister Stephen Harper was too warlike. Now, we have the other extreme: a prime minister who hates conflicts and sees the world through a New Age prism in which everything can be solved with love and understanding. Unfortunately, the country he leads doesn't live in a dream world.
Maybe Mr. Trudeau's timidity is also due to the fear of raising anti-Muslim sentiments. But this is a misplaced fear: Canadians are not stupid and they know that the huge majority of Muslims have nothing to do with radical Islam. And Muslims are often the first victims of the murderous groups who reign by terror over large parts of the Middle East and Africa.