They were shot in the back.

They were shot in the back while they prayed.

They were shot as they worshipped in the holiest of sanctuaries.

Their blood was spilled on the prayer rugs in a place of peace. A holy place – as holy as any church or synagogue – where the faithful make their communion with their God.

The attack was an attack on all of us; an attack on every Canadian of every faith. It was an attack on our core values.  

The victims were gentle people. They were family men. They were professors and businessmen. They were men of peace. 

It is so encouraging to see people come together in solidarity. The words of love and peace and understanding are so welcome at a time like this.

But two months from now, six months from now, will people say the same things? Will our politicians be so generous in thought and spirit when they reignite the debate over identity politics? Political leaders who try to use these wedge issue for gain should be condemned.

We have seen obscene pandering in the past in Quebec over who is a real Quebecer, over what religious symbols are acceptable in our so-called pluralist society. Diversity is strength. Wouldn’t it be terrible if we all looked and acted the same?  

What is troubling is that since the brutal attack, Montreal police have reported an increase in reports of hate crimes. That indeed is chilling.

They are among us. Hatemongers who see the attack at something other than unspeakable brutality; we   must fight them with actions and with words.

It is not acceptable in our society for hate to be trivialized or accepted in any way.  We must call people on their rhetoric and explain what we don’t accept it in a civilized and decent society.

We have a duty to do that whenever we see it or whenever we hear it.

My hope is that the carnage that happened on Sunday night will help us all think not outside of the box, but without a box.   

The beating of the drums south of the border is disturbing. Canada and Canadians can be so much better.

We must embrace our differences and not hold on to grievance. The Buddhists will tell you than holding on to anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.  

Our thoughts and prayers go to the families of those who suffered such an unspeakable loss. And we must resolve to defeat the monster of hate with our weapons of truth, love and understanding.