(Volume 25 Issue 7)
By Joe Fernandez
On 23, April 2018, ten people were killed by a man who ploughed through a Toronto crowd with a rental truck. The suspect, Alek Minassian, is reported to be a member of Incel, an online extremist group that promotes hatred of women and immigrants.
On the surface, suspect Minassian more closely resembles the recently convicted Québec Mosque mass-murderer Alexandre Bissonette. That the causes and ideologies they acted in the name of are polar opposites is merely a difference in branding. Minassian and Bissonnette are young men who turned to the Internet because they felt unconnected to, and alienated from, mainstream society. In this regard, they resemble Anders Breivik and the Kouachi brothers who carried out the Charlie Hebdo massacres.
With the exception of suspect Minassian, there is one other thing all of these men have in common. Not a one of them did military service. Suspect Minassian volunteered for the Canadian Armed Forces, but did not make it past the selection phase. This suggests a tool to combat the isolation and social malaise that caused these men to do with they did.
That tool is to reintroduce conscription for home duty, a tool which can be multi-use, and can be implemented using infrastructure in place, as well as the examples of Ulster and France.
Canada already has the Royal Canadian Army, Sea and Air Cadets, which take on recruits at the age of 12 years. Making service in the Cadets mandatory, (the choice of branch being left to the individual), offers the possibility of drilling into Canadian teenagers a discipline that is not uniformly standardised across Canadian households. Such discipline would emphasise service to Country before self, thereby counteracting the impulse to indulge in self-pity and to run away to the Internet in the face of adversity. Such discipline would also assist the education process in encouraging conscripted Cadets to pay attention to their teachers just as they would to their NCO’s. This latter effect could counter drop-out rates, and would also be transferable to successful college and university experiences for Cadets, being conducive to them earning their diplomas and degrees, as opposed to allowing them to perceive higher education overwhelmingly as a vehicle for Spring Break.
Teaching Canadian adolescents the concept of service to Country before self, and reinforcing this concept on a regular basis, would not only counteract the instinct to become self-indulgent, but also teach them they are part of the greater Canadian community; instilling in them a duty to protect and assist that community, rather than harm it because of their own personal frustrations.
Learning is a lifelong process, and if learning is based on membership within an institution, there is the risk that skills, such as discipline, will degrade once an individual leaves that institution. This is plausibly a reason why some Canadian Veterans have problems adjusting to the entirely undisciplined civilian world. Furthermore, Canadians cannot remain Cadets forever.
Ulster and France offer answers to this stage of the problem. From 1969 to 1992, Ulster had the locally raised eleven battalion Ulster Defence Regiment to help protect the community from Sinn Fein/IRA. Since December 1944, France has had the Compagnies Républicaines de Sécurité as a reserve and back-up force for the French National Police. The UDR provided extra manpower to the Royal Ulster Constabulary and the British Army and carried out patrols in certain areas, as did and do the CRS. Unlike the regular British Army, the UDR was meant strictly for home use and never deployed on foreign adventures. While there are some CRS personnel who serve in France’s embassies, the vast majority of its 13,000 members and 60 companies serve within France herself.
Canada could easily repurpose some companies of its forty-nine Reserve infantry Regiments as entirely conscript Home-Service Companies tasked with continuing the discipline of the Cadets and with police backup along the UDR/CRS line, reinforcing the ethos of community over self-indulgence.