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A Canadian View from the USA
by Marty Goldstein on 2001-10-04

I have read a lot of material from home about Canadian reaction to the recent terrorist attack on the USA, and what Canada should do or not do as the case may be. I would like to return to filing stories about pro wrestling, but first I feel I have to clear my mind and set some issues on the table.

I used to cover the Manitoba legislature for a TV station, and did a very political talk show on radio, and I prefer the entertainment business I am now in, believe me. But we are all under threat. I never imagined babysitting completion of a documentary would lead to me being here in this situation.

There is no absolute right or wrong in most cases. Certainly, like all Canadians, I felt insulted that President Bush did not specifically mention our land as a supporter of the USA in his speech. I thought it was pretty gutsy of Canada to allow flights to be diverted to our airports. That deserved recognition on the worldwide stage. We are also under scrutiny as a potential launching pad for the attackers to enter the States. Maybe there was a hidden message.

But the fact is that American intelligence knew some of these maniacs were inside their borders, and we did not let them in, US border officials did. There appears to have been some tragic miscalculations about the impending threat.

The change here in LA was marked. My airport hotel was in a panic, as airline staff staying there felt directly for their fallen co-workers. Security was tight, but not oppressive. Still, there was an immediate difference in this country. The flights bound for Los Angeles carried well known victims and this city was deeply affected. So was Middletown, NJ, which suffered only 1 casualty in all of WW 2, but at least 50 in the attacks.

This whole country, the sense of security was undermined. If the attacks had been planed for the West instead of the East, just by staying at an airport hotel for a change of scene and a swim could have resulted in my own death.

That is the essence of terrorism, to evoke fear and panic, and that in turn causes social and political unrest. My friends from Ireland, Great Britain, Somalia, and of course Israel, know this fear. America has not until now. LA was tense and sombre, and on alert as a potential target.

I fled to Las Vegas to visit my friends Geoff and Karen from Winnipeg and their new daughter and it felt safer, but Vegas was sad and in a state of economic collapse. As airlines laid off 1000's, so did resorts and hotels. The Alladin fired all their costumed princes and genies who wander about providing entertainment and atmosphere, with no severance. Done. Gone. Hotels rates were slashed in half or more, casino closed tables due to lack of gamblers, and there was a real fear of recession in Nevada.

I have traveled North America in wrestling and journalism and drove taxi in the dark Winnipeg winters for 14 years. I have been in Compton, Mexico City, on Hastings St. in Vancouver, on Jane and Finch in Toronto, in biker bars and clubhouses, covered murders and fires and gang wars. I have been in shoots in the ring, locker rooms and my own home. I know danger. This is more. When planes started to fly again, people watched in part to see if they were flying off course, erratically or even headed for a target. No one but the paraniod did that before. Now in the USA, citizen and visitor alike are aware.

The same sick minds whose supporters claim in newspapers that "4000 Jews" were away from work at the Trade Towers that morning, in a twisted pathetic attempt to draw suspicion to their arbitrary survival, these same psycopaths could care less if you are Canadian or American. THEY KNEW that peaceful citizens of the world, from England, France, Canada, African nations, and yes Israel, would be in the buildings and on the flights. It was an attack on the world, not just the USA. Otherwise they would have hit a military target like the USS Cole.

Garnet Bailey loved our national game of hockey. He was a rookie left wing with the Boston Bruins of the NHL when I first followed hockey as a little kid. I saw him play at the Winnipeg Arena in the WHA when I was a teen. I saw the results of his scouting at a Los Angeles Kings game last winter. I saw him die for the sin of taking the wrong flight and working to feed his family, and that could have been any Canadian.

These terrorists will target any of us in the developed free world, because we give women freedom to dress and learn and work; becasue we have a flawed but functional democracy where clerics do not rule; becasue our countries support the State of Israel.

I know it is strange to some of my fellow Canadians to think of us as threatened, and I support our efforts to bring peace to the world. But unless this is dealt with by force, one day it will be you watching a plane fly into your window at the CN Tower or BC Place or the House of Parliament. And your loved ones will watch helplessly on TV, and your neighbours will lose their jobs, and the world you left behind will be enslaved by fear and panic. To this columnist, that is not an option.

Maybe George Bush and Jean Chretien are not worth voting for. But right now, they are correct in saying we must sacrifice as our parents and grandparents did to subdue Nazism and Hirohito. I will not die for Chretien, but I will die for my children and loved ones to preserve the freedoms we all enjoy as Canadians and partners of the longest undefended border on Earth.

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