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EDITORIAL: Attacks offer lesson, warning

Paramedics load the wounded into an ambulance following a terror attack in Edmonton last Saturday night.
Paramedics load the wounded into an ambulance following a terror attack in Edmonton last Saturday night.

It was a weekend of untold horror. The mass shootings in Las Vegas and the attack on a police officer and pedestrians in Edmonton shocked us all.  

Americans are chided by conservative media and politicians that now is not the time to discuss gun control. That’s true for the 58 dead and the 527 injured. But, if not now, then when?
There is some hope for action following the attack in Edmonton. It shows that Canada needs to tighten up its immigration protocols. The government is reviewing its asylum system after a Somali man was charged with running down a police officer with a car and stabbing him, and then injuring four other pedestrians after he seized a truck.
Prime Minister Trudeau says Canadian officials are looking into the whole immigration system where the priority is always making sure “we’re defending the values and rights of Canadians while keeping our community safe.” At least there is talk about addressing potential problems.
Many might think such incidents could never happen on our gentle Island. Well, we had the only terror attack in Canada on a provincial legislature. The bombing at Province House occurred one day after the tragic 1996 bombing of the federal building Oklahoma City. It suggests that an incident like Oklahoma City can set off a copycat or a terror attack.
When the mentally unstable or evil people who wish us harm see how easy it is to rain down slaughter on the innocent, we really can't afford to take anything for granted. Tragic vehicle attacks in London, France and Germany prove that fact.
So it’s a little disconcerting that a day after the Edmonton incident, Charlottetown officials thought it unnecessary to taken any precautions as thousands gathered on Lower Queen and adjacent streets for Farm in the City. There were likely 10,000 or more people jammed into the area. It was a tempting target for a deranged or criminal mind to wreak havoc.
Organizers say they planned for success, not a security threat. It’s time that organizers, city officials and police plan for both. It wouldn’t take much. Discreet concrete barriers to block off streets, or simply park a large truck across the top of Queen would easily have blocked any attack. Small, wooden barricades might direct traffic but would have no impact on someone with evil intentions.
Charlottetown organizers admit they didn’t give the Edmonton attack a second thought. They might be excused, but police and emergency officials should have known better. No one wants to cause undue worry or dampen the fun of such events but it’s the new reality we live in.
Police say they take stock from national and international events like the tragedies in Las Vegas and Edmonton and learn from it. One wonders what they learned from the Saturday attack? The Gold Cup Parade, outdoor concerts and other such events are potential targets. Emergency officials must start to develop plans, take precautions and enact safety measures to deter threats.
It’s called due diligence.


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