COLUMN: Vigilance needed to keep the peace

We don’t want to stop celebrating Canada Day and hearing great music at events like Surrey's Fusion Festival.

Two Surrey residents are charged with terrorism-related activities, in relation to  Canada Day festivities in Victoria on the lawns of the Parliament buildings.

Police allege John Stewart Nuttall and Amanda Marie Korody wanted to cause terror and havoc in a public place, using pressure cooker bombs similar to the ones used at the Boston Marathon in April of this year.

Police describe Nuttall and Korody as “self-radicalized.”

It is important to note these are allegations made at an RCMP news conference at E Division headquarters in Surrey, and have yet to be proven in court.

However, as Premier Christy Clark noted in a statement at the legislature, most B.C. residents are pleased and relieved the RCMP and other  agencies nipped this particular plot in the bud.

Surrey needs to take this incident to heart, because it is entirely possible that such an incident could take place here. Our own Canada Day celebration at Cloverdale’s Millennium Amphitheatre attracted a huge crowd and had many great attractions. I was there Monday.

When our group went onto the grounds, there were no security checks. There were multiple entrances, and while there were lots of police, both auxiliary and regular members (including some in red serge), it would have been easy to bring something untoward onto the grounds.

On May 24, a crowd of 25,000 packed Holland Park to see Mumford and Sons. As it was a ticketed event, there was security.

The Fusion Festival is coming up at Holland Park on July 20 and 21, and it too attracts a large crowd. As it is free and does not require tickets, many people want to take part. I applaud the city for sponsoring these free events, but security cannot take a back seat. The arrests of the two Surrey residents proves that.

The Olympic events in 2010 and the Stanley Cup informal street gatherings in 2011 attracted large crowds in Surrey, but things were peaceful. The Vaisakhi parade, the largest single event in Surrey, has also been peaceful thus far.

We live in an age where reports of terrorism get plenty of attention in both mainstream media and on the Internet. Social media makes it easier than ever for copycats to emulate others who create mischief.

Many of the Surrey residents at the Canada Day event came from other countries where terrorism is far more prevalent. I spoke with a man who moved here from Iraq, which has seen more than its share of suicide bombings, attacks on police and sectarian violence. He is glad to be in Canada and was marking Canada Day with his family at a large public event.

Almost all immigrants come here, at least in part, to get away from this type of thing. They value Canada for its peace and tranquility, and its many opportunities.

However, these qualities also make this country a target for a few “radicalized” people, and we have had no shortage of terrorism attempts in Canada over the past six or seven years. We must be vigilant, and in particular we must do all we can to ensure that large events are safe, and stay that way.

We don’t want to stop celebrating Canada Day and hearing great music at events like Fusion Festival. But we do want to celebrate in a peaceful way.

Frank Bucholtz is the editor of The Langley Times. He writes weekly for The Leader.

Surrey North Delta Leader

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