Man’s mystery suitcase: What was in Kevin Donovan’s car?

The Fédération des travailleurs et travailleuses du Québec, or FTQ, is an organization that represents 300,000 workers in Quebec’s construction industry. In 2018, the FTQ sent a detailed request for legislation that would apply to all Canadian vessels. The demand was met with protest by the maritime industry, which said the FTQ was encroaching on the industry’s constitutionally protected jurisdiction. A federal negotiator warned that the FTQ’s proposal would be a “coupling of a rights and a duty.” Just this past week, the FTQ asked the government for a list of ships that are seized for equipment that is required by the Guy Aucoin inquiry. The commission was set up to deal with corruption in the construction industry, specifically in Montreal. This commission ultimately recommended that Trudeau abandon the inquiry to avoid further embarrassment.

Is this really some sort of make believe? I was trying to maintain that maybe Kevin Donovan’s car didn’t get stolen; maybe he was dropping it off at an auto parts shop in Toronto to be repaired. I mean, it makes sense, this was obviously a man who went out of his way to be extremely private.

But a TV show in Canada revealed a Toronto man’s Audi was captured on a security camera being moved to a spot in the Port of Halifax that was loaded with explosives, before being shipped to the Middle East.

Norfolk Southern Corp. has charged a Toronto man $27,000 for his transport and display of a bomb aboard a train in 2016, which destroyed portions of its tracks and derailed outside Halifax.

The case garnered widespread attention after the destruction. Canadian Forces video footage showed Donovan dangling over a bridge with a crude propane bomb strapped to his waist, being escorted off the train by police officers, before it erupted in flames.

The attack was claimed by an unnamed anti-Islam group, and followed a bombing at a Quebec City mosque in January that killed six.

A jury decided in August 2017 that Donovan was fully within his rights to carry out the offense. And, really, was anyone ever likely to bother to try to prosecute him? What’s your score if anyone’s tried to prove why this was an illegal attempt at terrorism? Do I look like the type to draw lines like that?

Comparing these kinds of incidents to previous terror plots in Canada that ended tragically is hardly a fair comparison because a serial killer named Elliot Rodger clearly isn’t Canadian. But, an evidence trail like that did convince Canadian police to restrict the movement of people returning from the Middle East because they were certain that they were sending terrorists through the country.

Was this an act of political terrorism? A weapons cache? It all doesn’t appear to be particularly meaningful evidence in this case, and I can’t help but feel that this was more about a political charge and less about actual terrorism.

Remember, Donovan was in possession of similar bomb parts — propellers, pistons and rudders — in his condo in 2012. This time, he was transporting them in a car, not a shipping container, while being interviewed by RCMP authorities.

Much like what the Transportation Security Administration did with its cargo databases, this bomb, which had traveled from the Middle East to Toronto, became evidence against Donovan. There was enough of it, and there was a enough to persuade a jury. But at the end of the day, this hardly provided hard evidence of organized terror, as charges in this case are based on circumstantial evidence that is not objectively important.

Perhaps the bigger lesson to learn is that if you’re an international traveler and you have serious concerns about what’s going on in a particular country, something that seems suspicious to you but isn’t blatantly illegal, do a little poking around. For example, I would love to know exactly what evidence Canadian authorities used to incriminate Donovan as someone who may have committed a crime. The standard of proof doesn’t need to be high, as the case showed, but you still need to weigh whether the evidence is just nuts, or whether it is so strong that it is hard to defend.

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