Jihadists 'declared war' on those who disagree, Stephen Harper says
PM makes 1st comments on Wednesday's slayings at Charlie Hebdo newspaper office
Prime Minister Stephen Harper warned the "international jihadist movement" has declared war on countries around the world, vowing Canada will do what it can to eliminate the threat and protect Canadians.
In his first public comments about yesterday's attack on the Paris office of the satirical weekly newspaper Charlie Hebdo, in which 12 people were killed, Harper said people around the world showed they won't be intimidated by "jihadist terrorists."
"When a trio of hooded men struck at some of our most cherished democratic principles — freedom of expression, freedom of the press — they assaulted democracy everywhere. Yesterday, hundreds of thousands of people around the world and in cities across this country openly demonstrated that we will not be intimidated by jihadist terrorists," Harper said.
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"Today I know all Canadians, during this time of national mourning [in France], we all stand together with people of France, our great friends and allies."
The prime minister spoke at length about security in Canada, arguing Canadians aren't immune from terrorist threats. He pointed to a plot to blow up Parliament by the so-called Toronto 18 in 2006, arrests of two men accused of plotting to derail a Via train and to the shooting at the National War Memorial and Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Oct. 22, which killed Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, the soldier standing guard at the memorial.
A source told CBC News that the shooter, Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, left a video indicating he was driven by ideological and political motives, but the RCMP haven't released the video.
'Not going to go away'
"I don't say this with any particular pleasure or excitement," Harper began, "but it is a fact."
"The international jihadist movement has declared war. They have declared war on anybody who does not think and act exactly as they wish they would think and act."
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"And we may not like this and wish it would go away, but it is not going to go away. And this is going to be unfortunately the reality of the world that I think we're living in for some time to come, and we're just going to have to face that head on and deal with it. And that's what our government is committed to do," Harper said.
"At the same time, we also encourage people to go about their lives and to exercise our rights and freedoms and our openness as a society as loudly and as clearly as we can," he added.
"Because that is the best way of defeating what is ultimately a movement of hatred and intolerance."
Harper was in British Columbia with Employment Minister Jason Kenney to talk about the government's apprenticeship loan program.
The Conservative government announced in last year's federal budget an apprenticeship loan program, which it said would give up to $4,000 in interest-free loans per period of technical training for apprentices in a Red Seal trade. The government has promoted the loans recently in television ads.