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“Getting My Irish Up” with the Toronto Star

Phil Egan's picture
Tue, 08/01/2017 - 13:37 -- Phil Egan

A few weeks ago, I succumbed to a telephone pitch for home delivery of the Toronto Star.

Back in the days when I lived in Oakville, I used to skim five newspapers every day. These included the Toronto Star and Sun, the Globe & Mail, the National Post and the USA Today. The Post was my favourite, but my travel company advertised primarily in the Toronto Star and its once-hefty travel section.

But I really wasn’t a big fan of the newspaper, and getting it again, I was quick to remember why.

The first item to make me roll my eyes was an editorial titled, “Let’s not cheer sniper shot.” The comment referred to a world record for the longest confirmed kill shot by a sniper in military history. Fired by a Canadian soldier in Iraq, the shot killed an ISIS fighter from a distance of over 3.5 kilometres.

Some Canadians may be unaware of the fact that Canadian Special Forces have been active in Iraq since August of 2014. The government plans to add 600 more soldiers to this elite group currently numbering only 2,000. They are divided between four different units, including Joint Task Force 2 (JTF2), the Canadian Special Operations Unit, a  helicopter detachment and a unit specializing in responding to chemical and biological incidents.

Having had three nephews serve in the Canadian Forces fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan, I read the Star editorial with some degree of incredulity.

“However heinous we may find members of Daesh (ISIS) and their sympathizers,” the Star wrote, “they are human beings. They have homes and families and histories. No matter their crimes, their lives are valuable in the sense that all lives are valuable.”

What?

These are the same violent maniacs who burned a Jordanian pilot alive in a cage for entertainment, who have decapitated innocent men and women and filmed their disgusting atrocities to shock and terrorize, and who urge others to kill and maim in their name in an outrageous perversion of Islam and its 1.8 billion adherents. As their stronghold on the city of Mosul began to collapse in recent weeks, they used innocents women and children as human shields. These lives have value?

The Toronto Star may believe that the lives of ISIS fighters have value, but this writer can’t see it. Coming from a proud military family, I would have preferred to see Canada more heavily involved in ridding the world of these murderous fanatics, now on the run in both Iraq and Syria as their “caliphate” disintegrates against an onslaught of Iraqi and Kurdish forces.

“Canadians should, in the 21st Century, be able to take pride in our military for reasons other than its ability to end human lives,” the Star pouts. Here is one newspaper that apparently slept through the resurgence of national pride that marked the observances last April of the 100th anniversary of Vimy Ridge, which Trudeau, this past Canada Day, suggested in his speech on Parliament hill might have marked the true birth of the nation.

Predictably, The Star also cheered the Canadian government’s decision to reward Omar Khadr with an apology and $10.5 million, a move opposed by 71% of Canadians. The 30-year-old Canadian who was detained by U.S. forces at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba for 10 years had pleaded guilty to the war crime of killing U.S. Special Forces Medic Christopher Speer in Afghanistan.

Those of us with long memories will recall that this is the same Toronto Star that, in the 1930s, wept crocodile tears as it petitioned the federal government for the release from Kingston Penitentiary of a supposedly “reformed” prisoner named Norman Ryan. After a long campaign urging release by The Star, “Red” Ryan continued his murderous spree of robberies across Ontario.

This culminated in his shooting death by Sarnia police on Victoria Day weekend in 1936, but not before he managed to kill Sarnia Constable Jack Lewis. The slain officer was the first fatality in the history of the Sarnia force.

It seems that some things never change at The Star. They will always find a bad cause to champion.

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