Having a few minutes to wait for the bus this morning, a total stranger put down her newspaper with disgust, after reading the front page. She turns towards the formidable Mrs Charles Henry and myself to say, "have you read this morning's paper? Can you believe these people? Why are they always so much trouble?"
To protect the anonymity of those involved, we dress the scene in only the vaguest of details. Suffice to say that the stranger was the most gloriously average Canadian one can imagine, a working class middle age mother whose accent suggests some small town origin. The only thing special about her was the fact that there was nothing special about her.
And she is fed up with the denialism of Canada's muslim community.
She's so fed up she felt perfectly comfortable expressing her opinion in front of two total strangers, expecting that since we look so average ourselves, we of course would agree with her.
Which we do.
"It's as if they don't want to live in the modern world", the formidable Mrs Charles Henry suggests helpfully. Our average canadian could only nod in agreement. "You're so right!", she said.
The conversation continued for a few memorable minutes, as three working class people, never having been subjected to university brainwashing, and having long ago cut the CBC umbilical cord, feel that the truth is so obvious it can be taken for granted that others will see it as clearly, thought police or no thought police.
Meanwhile the same newspaper contains the understatement of the 21st century tucked away in another related story:
"Canadian Muslims must share some blame for not doing more to stop the misleading of our youth in the name of Islam," Imam Syed B. Soharwardy said at a news conference at the Al Madinah Calgary Islamic Centre Friday.At last week’s Blue Revolution meeting, with reports from the somnambulant CBC television newsteam and university-trained journalists from the Globe and Mail newspaper still ringing in our ears, we were unable to conclude whether or not Canada had remained unaffected by the discovery of Toronto’s terrorist nests. A few days have passed, and there is much more room for optimism than at first appeared:
...It appears most Canadians agree with Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government when it says there is no relationship between the Canadian military presence in Afghanistan and extremist targeting.
Opposition to the mission has been gaining steam as Taliban and al-Qaida insurgents boost attacks against troops based in Kandahar. Some experts [does he mean imam Aly "I always say the No. 1 recruiter of al-Qaeda is George W. Bush" Hindy?] argue the deployment of approximately 2,200 Canadian forces personnel is fuelling extremist hatred at home and abroad.
However, the poll found 61 per cent of respondents believe Canada is a target simply because it is a Western democracy. A minority -- 31 per cent -- argued "terrorist threats . . . have everything to do with Canada's troops in Afghanistan."
"People believe this is more of an ideological stance made by individuals against what we are about, as opposed to where our troops are," Wright said.
This 61% is a welcome change from the recent national mood, where it would have been far more common to see these two numbers in reverse.
While we would be crazy to read too much into one individual poll, it is through the increasing accumulation of similar singular incidents, whether they may be an impromptu conversation with a total stranger at a bus stop, or a snapshot poll taken on the fly, that allow us to hope Canada's middle class is finally riding the same bus that many others have been aboard since September 11.