Muskoka terrorist threat demands attention

The Ontario towns of Bracebridge and Gravenhurst are on alert after an anonymous letter was sent to the Huntsville Forester’s office late last week threatening the beaches of one of Ontario’s prime vacation spots.

The letter, claiming to be from a group called the Islamic Revolutionary Force, threatens to destroy beaches from Toronto to North Bay.

 “We have started with the Muskokas and other tourist destinations. Your northern towns are extremely easy targets, unlike cities,” states the letter received at the Forester office on May 10.

The letter writer suggests beaches were destroyed over the winter months with snowmobiles, “easily and effectively making them unsafe and all but unusable.”

The letter arrived at the Metroland community newspaper’s office with the mail late Thursday and was opened by an office employee who passed it on to the editor-in-chief.

Police picked up the letter at the Forester office in Huntsville on Friday morning, using gloves and putting it into a bag.

OK, so police have the letter and the newspaper has seen the letter. But where is the Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale? He should be all over this threat and either urging caution or proposing action to counteract the threat. Or maybe he could just tell us if this is a real threat or just a hoax.

But not a word from Goodale yet.

Well, it was just last month a man used a van to mow down pedestrians in Toronto and Goodale refused to label that a terrorist attack.

“There is no known national security connection,” Goodale said after the attack.

And now? Bracebridge and Gravenhurst are being threatened by a letter from a group calling itself an “Islamic Revolutionary Force” and what’s Goodale got to say about that?

Nothing. Absolutely nothing.

Huntsville OPP aren’t taking any chances. They issued a news release the day the threat was made.

“Huntsville OPP confirm they are investigating the origin of the letter, along with the assistance of the Huntsville Crime Unit, and will utilize all required resources to determine the validity of the claims that were made, according to an OPP media release at 11:10 p.m. on Friday, May 11,” says a report in Muskokaregion.com. 

“Further information will be provided only as the investigation continues and the OPP will work closely with any community should any claim be identified that has the potential to compromise the safety of the public.

“Huntsville OPP reminds the public to always be aware of personal safety and to be aware of any hazards while enjoying beaches and other public areas in Muskoka,” the report continues.  “If anyone should see anything suspicious in nature, police advise leaving it in the spot that it was located and contacting the OPP at 1-888-310-1122.”

So while Huntsville OPP are taking no chances and informing the public about the threat, where is Goodale? I mean he is the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, isn’t he? Doesn’t this at least warrant an assessment and a public statement to say whether it’s a real threat or something else?

If it’s just a prank, then somebody better come out and say so. And if it’s a threat, we need to know about that too. And Goodale? Well instead of throwing our money around in Saskatchewan for home care and mental health, he should be in Muskoka getting to the bottom of this. That’s not to say home care and mental health aren’t important. But it is to say a national security threat is a little more important, especially for someone calling himself a Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness.

Now, the letter appears only to threaten to destroy beaches. It doesn’t talk about attacking people or threatening their lives. But it does come from a group calling itself the Islamic Revolutionary Force. That should be enough to scare anybody.

So how about it, Mr. Goodale? Is this for real? Is it a hoax? Or do you even know?

Somebody better figure this out. And somebody better tell the people of Muskoka and the rest of the country for that matter.

The man who should be doing that informing is Goodale? Where is he?

 

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Jeff Wilkinson

About the Author: Jeff Wilkinson

Jeff Wilkinson is a retired Canadian journalist who covered a wide range of political stories over a 35-year career in newspapers and radio. He was at Place du Canada in Montreal in 1995 for the Unity rally on the eve of the Quebec referendum. He interviewed former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney and numerous cabinet ministers, provincial premiers and many other key political figures both provincially and federally. Most recently he served in the Press Operations Crews at the 2015 Pan Am Games and 2017 Invictus Games.