National Security State and Construction of the other in social media environment in Canada

Paper presented at the seventh Canadian Studies Seminar of Conferencia cientifica Internacional, Holguin, Cuba, April 27-29, 2015. 


This paper examines three events between February 2009 and May 2012 that created news waves and intense civic engagement in Canada. In February 2009, Guy Turcotte a cardiologist killed his 2 minor children. In June 2009, Mohammad Shafia, an Afghan immigrant to Canada conspired with his wife and son to kill his first wife and three daughters by drowning them in Rideau Canal near Kingston. In May 2012 Luka Rocco Magnotta killed and dismembered an international Chinese student in Montreal. These events created an intense civic engagement in both online and offline environments. In social media environments every news item related to these events was keenly followed and engaged with by the Canadian civil society. There was a spirited and widespread condemnation of the horrendous acts. However, it was also apparent in these engagements that the Shafia crime was understood not only in terms of the horrendous nature of the crime but that the situationality of the group that the perpetrators of the crime belonged to in the wider post-9/11 national security state environment in Canada made people understand and react to the crime differently from the way that other two crimes were understood. In other words the security environment conditioned the understanding of the crime and the perpetrators. Such understandings of particular ethnic, religious groups have the potential of spilling over in the ways that some people and groups are understood, reacted to and engaged with in the society at large.