Threats of terror

Anyone watching the dramatic events in Boston last week got a chilling reminder on Monday that Canada is not immune to such dangers.

Anyone watching the dramatic events in Boston last week got a chilling reminder on Monday that Canada is not immune to such dangers.

Yesterday police in Toronto announced the arrest of two men, charged with planning to blow up a VIA passenger train.

The plan, said police, had links to al-Qaeda.

News of the arrests came just hours after the people of Boston paused for a moment of silence to honour the victims of last Monday’s bombing at the Boston Marathon.

A motive for that attack, which killed three and injured scores more, remains unclear. But following the arrest of the lone-surviving suspect in dramatic take down Friday night, few are calling the bombing anything but an act of terror.

Authorities in Toronto Monday were quick to point out the Canadian arrests were not linked to the Boston attacks.

Nor, police said, were they tied to any other recent Canadian flirtations with terror groups. (Last month, it was learned, two Canadians were among the 29 terrorists killed during an aborted takeover of an Algerian gas refinery that left 37 hostages dead.)

But it is clear there remains a real concern for terrorist activity in Canada.

It is interesting to note that while police were announcing the arrests in Toronto, politicians in Ottawa were debating an anti-terrorism bill that promises to reinstate broad-reaching powers to arrest and detain those suspected of terror links.

The measures were originally introduced following the 9/11 attacks in 2001. They expired in 2007.

The bill – which would allow the power for “preventative arrest” – is not without controversy. The NDP, for example, says it goes too far and poses a threat to civil liberties.

But with the images of the carnage in Boston, and now with arrests here in Canada, those arguments will be more difficult to make.