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Macfarlane: Who had the right response to the Boston Marathon attack, Justin Trudeau or Stephen Harper?

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19 April, 2013
By: Emmett Macfarlane
Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science, University of Waterloo

None of our political leaders come out of this looking particularly good. Most significantly, Harper’s comments amount to a disgraceful politicization of the Boston Marathon attack (and, it should be noted, the NDP shamelessly piled on, signalling agreement with Harper’s position on the CBC show Power and Politics). Even if one takes Trudeau’s comments out of context, there is zero justification for an interpretation that he was trying to “rationalize” the attacks.

On a much more minor note, it is a bit puzzling why Trudeau was pontificating about “root causes” mere hours after the incident. Yes, understanding the motivations of people who commit acts of terror is vital and important, but that is something for society to consider in the weeks and months to follow (or at least when we know who the actual perpetrator(s) are). It’s important to note that Trudeau rightly began by enunciating his sympathy for the victims and their loved ones. But beyond that, it may have been more prudent to limit his response to such sorrow and to condemnation rather than speaking somewhat clumsily about how those who commit such monstrous acts likely feel “excluded” from society.

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