Was it Canada's fault? Police surrounded the Army recruitment centre at Times Square in New York after a 3:45 a.m. blast that officials at one point believed had been set by a person who had escaped detection when crossing from Canada into the US one month earlier.
The one-story Armed Forces Recruiting Station sits on a traffic island between Broadway and Seventh Avenue. Boarded up windows covered the glitzy office that was renovated several years ago to keep in step with the trendy Times Square vibe and entice would-be hired fighters.
Last month, several European men were stopped at the Canadian border with suspicious photos of the Times Square recruiting center. Two of those men had apparently run away from customs officials who wanted to interrogate them. Police described them as "anarchists."
In the meantime, the targeted military recruiting station was back open for business.
“What do they do there?” my older son asked, as we stood by the police barriers. Police seemed to be everywhere around us, scanning crowds.
“They try to get people to sign up for the army,” I said.
“How do they do that?”
“They tell them about the money they’re going to make and the benefits they’re going to have.”
“You get paid to fight in wars?” he asked.
“Enough so if you’re poor, you consider it,” I said.
He shook his head. “That’s so wrong,” he said.
“That’s how they get people to fight,” I said.
“I bet they regret it later,” he said.
It was our second encounter with an explosion on our short trip to the city. On Tuesday, we boarded a train from the suburb of Pelham into the city. Half way to Grand Central Station, the train came to a stop. The conductor announced that a building on 125th street had collapsed and the train couldn’t get past.
It could be an hour, or three hours, or maybe more before the train would get through. “I don’t really know,” he said.
After fifteen minutes, the train inched into the nearest station and we got out in the Bronx. We made out way across about twenty-five blocks from the train through the Bronx to the Yankee stadium subway stop and found took the D train into the city.
By today, officials said they weren’t so sure a Canadian connection existed in the Times Square bombing. I was curious how many of my friends had noticed the Canada connection. Did they think badly of Canada? Did they think about Canada at all?
I also wondered if people were aware of the recent leak from Stephen Harper’s office regarding NAFTA, the leak that had been all over the CBC website. Harper’s office apparently leaked an apparent conversation with Senator Barak Obama’s very real campaign, saying that Obama’s didn’t genuinely intend to renegotiate the NAFTA agreement, as he was saying in Ohio. His campaign statements in Ohio to that effect were simply made of political necessity, the campaign operative had purportedly said.
Were Americans outraged by interference from Canada in internal US affairs?
Nobody in New York, even the Obamists, knew about this, except for one friend, a media enthusiast, who said although he had heard about it, he didn’t believe American voters had given it a second thought. He doubted most Americans knew what NAFTA was. Much less Canada.