At Margaret Thatcher's funeral this week, Stephen Harper couldn't resist the opportunity to attack Justin Trudeau. Even though the reporter who asked the question made no mention of Trudeau's comment that we should try to understand the "root causes" of terrorism, Harper said:
“When you see this type of violent act, you do not sit around trying to rationalize it or make excuses for it or figure out its root causes. You condemn it categorically, and to the extent you can deal with the perpetrators, you deal with them as harshly as possible."
It was vintage Harper -- the same kind of ham handed attack Harper directed at Paul Martin when he accused Martin of supporting child pornography. But, today, Americans are asking the very question Trudeau posed. What led two kids who immigrated to the United States, and seemed to assimilate so well, choose to act with such horrific violence?
And Andrew Coyne, of all people, has come to Justin's defense:
If we are trying to defend against this sort of threat, then — to catch and punish those responsible for past atrocities, and more important, to anticipate and prevent the next — it would seem only logical to try to understand what causes it: the process by which these individuals are radicalized, the types of personalities most susceptible to it, and the circumstances that make them that way. Indeed, I would be astonished if there were not whole sections of the security establishments in both countries devoted to just that challenge, for the same reason the police employ psychological profilers.
Nothing in the notion of looking for causes says that we cannot also deal with effects. Neither is there anything in what Trudeau said that would equate understanding your enemies with excusing them, or explaining away their acts.
No, this was yet another attempt by Mr. Harper to eliminate a rival -- the verbal equivalent of that pooping puffin which unloaded on Stephane Dion's shoulder.
The Harper spin machine likes to sell the idea that the prime minister is a brilliant man. But Harper's remarks had the opposite effect. The prime minister proved the wisdom of of Mark Twain's admonition: "Better to keep your mouth shut and appear stupid than to open it and remove all doubt."