--> Gill Blog: In the Aftermath of the London Bombing

Gill Blog

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

In the Aftermath of the London Bombing

Kudos to the people of London for keeping their trademark stiff upper lip intact despite the severity of last week's terrorist bombing. It was quite remarkable, but even on the evening of the incident, the BBC broadcast a report from a pub in London where some weary commuters, although a little invonvenienced by the walk that lay ahead, still thought nothing about nipping into a nearby pub for a quick pint and pie before making the long trek home. They showed the world that it is possible to live and move forward, even if that world is now different.

Make no mistake about it, the Brits are a hearty bunch and their inner sense of resilience was not lost on the equity markets. Consider the FTSE, which began last Thursday's session by dropping like a rock, but ended the day close to where it began. In fact, it has made gains each day since. The fact the UK has lived with terrorism for years undoubtedly contributes to their ability to dust themselves off and get on with things. Unfortunately, while the UK opts to take the high road and not let terrorism interfere with progress, other less seasoned countries instead choose to use this as an opportunity to proclaim the sky is falling.

Take Canada for instance. Only today, the Canadian media in its continuing effort to put a Canadian spin on this story quoted Anne McLellan, the federal public safety minister as saying:
"I do not believe that Canadians are as psychologically prepared for a terrorist attack as I think probably we all should be...One never wants to unnecessarily scare or panic any individual. However, I think we need to start talking about the fact that we all need to be prepared for all possibilities."

The message seemed clear enough: don't get too comfortable, but terrorism could happen in Canada too. Wait a minute, weren't these exactly the same soundbites we heard after 9-11, the 2003 blackout and SARS? The fact that the rhetoric hasn't changed even iota suggests to me at least that places like Canada really need to move beyond the bogeyman phase of risk management and adopt attitudes and policies that are more closely aligned with their cousins across the Atlantic.