Canada's Cry:  Why Us?

By:  Rachel Marsden

The arrests of 17 Toronto-area Muslim men - allegedly intent on blowing up such southern Ontario targets as the CN Tower, Parliament and the Toronto Stock Exchange - led to some Nancy Kerrigan "why me?" moments among Canadians.

Folks here think that targeting Canadians is like gunning for the Care Bears. A mere flash of a Canadian flag on our backpacks is supposed to make people from all over the world want to hug, feed and clothe us.

The reaction to what might've been the biggest terrorist attack in North America was the same when Osama bin Laden, and more recently, the Taliban's Mullah Dadullah threatened Canada: Surely they didn't mean it. After all, no country is more diverse and tolerant than Canada.

And no city within Canada is more Muslim-loving and liberal than Toronto; the provincial government even considered sanctioning oppressive Muslim Sharia law. Want to live in a ghetto with your peeps and not have to integrate with your fellow Canadians? Toronto is the place for you.

So why, people here ask, would anyone want to do damage to Toronto? Maybe they don't. No one has been convicted of anything yet. Maybe the three tons of ammonium nitrate fertilizer that the suspects allegedly ordered were going to be used to grow a massive garden that would spell out "I Love Canada!" in tulips.

And that cell phone jimmied up to a circuit board, seized in the police raid? That doesn't have to be a detonator. Some kids put spoilers and shiny rims on their Honda Civics; maybe others just like to fiddle with their phones because Nokia can't keep up with the technological preferences of today's young Muslims.

Yes, I guess it's possible that various law-enforcement agencies that normally can't agree on what kind of pizza to order conspired against 17 innocent Muslims.

As the authorities have said, "It's important to note this operation in no way reflects negatively on any specific community or ethnocultural group" - right before revealing a list of suspect names that read like a cast list for Osama bin Laden's "E! True Hollywood Story."

Hearing a similar comment from law enforcement about, say, the recent Enron convictions not reflecting negatively on rich white guys would have been funny. But we Canadians are supposed to take this ethnic-whitewashing stuff seriously.

Some suspects are "Canadian citizens," authorities say. Right - nothing but toque-wearing, maple-syrup-loving, Wayne "Mohammed" Gretzkys.

They know how to play us, anyway. A lawyer for one suspect is already threatening civil lawsuits. Another complained about tactical police officers with guns just outside the courthouse during the suspects' first appearance.

Canada never took an official role in the Iraq war, yet a relative of one suspect has said that it was Canada's role in Iraq - not in Afghanistan, where we're actively engaged - that angered his Muslim homeboy. But other Muslims have cited Afghanistan.

Up until the recent election of a Conservative government, Canada has been the doofus who keeps getting shoved into lockers, but still figures that if he gives up more lunches and bus money, the haranguing will end.

Yet the new Conservative government under Prime Minister Stephen Harper has already denounced Iran and Hamas, deported illegal immigrants and told anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan to shove it during a recent visit.

There's a new sheriff in town. But will the townspeople back him up?