Hodge Podge for Oct.24

It took one lone, angry, fanatic with a single rifle and a personal agenda of hate to mark the ‘end of the innocence’ for one of the largest nations in the world. It has been many years since a lone gunman firing just a few shots was heard around the world. Canada may well never be the same.If there is anything even close to positive about the tragic death of Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, it is that his demise has helped to galvanize Canada’s resolve.From the perspective of chaos, destruction, and loss of human life October 22, 2013 pales in any comparison to Sept 1, 2001. However, for Canadians it will remain a day of sorrow and shock that will not disappear from our hearts and minds for some time.Hopefully it will not prove to be the tip of the iceberg some suggest.Like most Canadians I watched and listened in disbelief to news clips of the unbelievable and cowardly murder of 24-year old Canadian reservist soldier Cirillo, who was shot twice at point-blank range at the war memorial near Parliament Hill.Visions of the young man lying in a pool blood at the foot of the honour guard at the National War Memorial on Ottawa Hill will remain imbed in many minds forever,After shooting the honour guard twice from close range, the gunman walked in to Parliament and began firing within the hallowed halls before being shot and killed. Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, a Canadian citizen said to have been born in 1982 has been identified as the villainPrime Minister Harper suggested Wednesday’s events was “ISIL-inspired,” a reference to the extremist Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant. Just recently Canada joined a U.S.-led bombing campaign in Iraq angering the wrath of ISIL.Like many, I was shocked by the shooting, but not, unfortunately, overly surprised.Ever since the chilling reality of 911 many Canadians have speculated how quick it would be before such a terrorist attack would take place on our soil. The answer was Wednesday.As time unfolds hopefully some of the current questions will be resolved including whether or not there was a connection between the brutal murder of Cirillo and the killing three days earlier of another soldier in Montreal.Of significant concern and consternation is the reality that the latest incident involved an alleged terrorist who was born and raised in Canada, and not dropped into the country in the middle of the night.Reports say that Canadian police and international security currently are, “watching’ some 90 Canadians suspected of involvement in terrorism training.”Clearly simply watching such characters is not enough, particularly with the reports that the way our security forces have handled the 90 suspicious characters is to simply take away their passports. The theory is to leave them stuck here rather than travel abroad.I miss the logic.Seems to me a more logical step would be to let such unhappy and perhaps unbalanced individual simply leave our land and travel to whatever destination they desire, however when they do so – not allow them to return.Every day hundreds of Canadians are denied access to leave or enter Canada at various airports or border crossing, and in many cases for minor issues. To allow terrorist supporters and trainees to flourish in our nation and then not let them leave seems akin to putting a pot of water on the stove, turn the element on high, and then act surprised when it boils overThe tragic death of young Cirillo spawns many other questions as well such as:Why are the soldiers on guard given rifles but no bullets? That may be worth reviewing, particularly now that national television has informed everyone such is the case?Why are there not at least two security guards at the front doors of Parliament?How can a vehicle with no license sit parked in the middle of the main road leading to Parliament Hill and no one notice?Was the attack Wednesday, as well as a similar incident in Montreal earlier this week, really the work of organized terrorists or were they simply copycat acts by two deranged cowards?Sadly the pendulum of reaction in Canada will swing to the extreme in caution. While such response is somewhat understandable the additional tragedy will be in the reduction of many of the rights and freedoms we currently take for granted. Similar to the understandable but sad response that occurred after the horror of 911.Regardless of whom, how, or why this tragedy took place Canada will never be the same.Certainly, as Prime Minister Harper and NDP Leader Tom Mulcair said ,Wednesday was, “a cowardly attack designed to strike at the heart of our democracy, the heart of who we are.” They then appealed to Canadians not to give in to feelings of vengeance.I hope we can do that, however, as the world learned from the two world wars, we are a nation of quiet and forgiving people, however we do not suffer bullies or madmen well.This is not an incident that will soon be forgotten, however it is also one that we must wake up from and realize that our country is no longer the innocent, naive teenager nation it was before Wednesday.We would be wise to put on our big-boy pants and be prepared for and prepared to deal with similar sad scenarios in the future.

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Charlie Hodge is a best-selling author, writer, a current Kelowna City Councillor, and a Director on the Regional District of the Central Okanagan Board. He spent more than 25 years as a full-time newspaper journalist and has a diverse background in public relations, promotions, personal coaching, and strategic planning. A former managing editor, assistant editor, sports editor, entertainment editor, journalist, and photographer, Hodge also co-hosted a variety of radio talk shows and still writes a regular weekly newspaper column titled Hodge Podge, which he has crafted now for 41 years. His biography on Howie Meeker, titled Golly Gee It’s Me is a Canadian bestseller and his second book, Stop It There, Back It Up – 50 Years of the NHL garnered lots of attention from media and hockey fans alike. Charlie is currently working on a third hockey book, as well as a contracted historical/fiction novel. His creative promotional skills and strategic planning have been utilized for many years in the Canadian music industry, provincial, national, and international environmental fields, and municipal, provincial, and federal politics. Charlie is a skilled facilitator, a dynamic motivational speaker, and effective personal coach. His hobbies include gardening, canoeing, playing pool, and writing music. Charlie shares his Okanagan home with wife Teresa and five spoiled cats.


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