June 4, 2014: Man goes on shooting rampage in New Brunswick, Canada

On June 4, 2014 Justin Bourque killed three RMCP officers and wounded two others in the eastern Canadian city of Moncton

MONCTON, NEW BRUNSWICK – All acts of mass violence are not necessarily terrorist in nature: sometimes it is really hard to tell which ones are.

We are living in a very interesting time in the West. After nearly 20 years obsessing about terrorism, especially that of the Islamist variety, many are moving on to a position that may not be well-founded.

I am referring to what I have called a ‘moral panic‘ over what is unhelpfully called ‘right-wing extremism‘. This grab bag of actors includes white nationalists, white supremacists, neo-Nazis, conspiracy theorists and even incels (‘involuntary celibates’). It spans a whole range of people and causes and is so nebulous as to be of little use.

There are those who now see any act of violence perpetrated by one of the aforementioned players as an act of ‘right-wing terrorism‘. Not surprisingly, I disagree with this portrayal. It does not adequately account for why these actions are taken on most occasions and twists the definition of terrorism so badly that the term has lost a lot of its true meaning.

I’m mad as hell and I can’t take it anymore – but I am not a terrorist! (Photo: engin akyurt on Unsplash) Note: Not the perpetrator

We sometimes come across events which are truly violent in nature, up to and including the deaths of people. Many immediately shout ‘terrorism before there is any investigation into why the violent action was committed (recall that an act of terrorism MUST have an underlying ideology).

Today’s featured attack is an excellent example of this conundrum.

On this day in 2014

Justin Bourque killed three Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RMCP) officers and wounded two others in the eastern Canadian city of Moncton in the province of New Brunswick. He pleaded guilty to three first-degree murder charges and to two counts of attempted murder.

He just had this blank stare on his face, just a dead look in his eyes. He was calm as could be. He was just walking at a steady pace. It wasn’t fast. It wasn’t slow. He did not waver, not even to avoid a pothole.

Friend and neighbour

Why did Mr. Bourque go on this rampage? There are still more questions than answers seven years later. Acquaintances said he had grown increasingly fixated on faraway wars, the right to bear arms, the “looming apocalypse”, and his desire to “live off the grid.” 

To me, this is not an ideology but rather the thoughts of a confused young man. Hence this was not an act of terrorism. It was certainly violent, but terrorist in nature it was not.

Read More Today in Terrorism

By Phil Gurski

Phil Gurski is the President and CEO of Borealis Threat and Risk Consulting Ltd. Phil is a 32-year veteran of CSE and CSIS and the author of six books on terrorism.

3 replies on “June 4, 2014: Man goes on shooting rampage in New Brunswick, Canada”

Must have been horrific for the residents of North Moncton. Why did it take 30 hours before Mr. Bourque was arrested?

You’re so hung up over a definition (legal or personal) of terrorism. After 9-11 our lawmakers saw the need for Criminal Code amendment adding Part 2.1 to address terrorism and all its facets. After 33 Sections and 37 pages (in my Code it’s 37) later, we have an unwieldly mess (my observation) that probably doesn’t make a helluva lot of difference to the run-of-the-mill miscreant if his/her crime is determined to be a terrorism offence.

Your feature today about Justin Bourque is a case in point. Your opinion – “this was not an act of terrorism.” Try telling that to the residents of North Moncton during the 30 hours it took to bring him into custody.

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