â€śMy suspicion is that they wanted to cause as much damage as they possibly could,â€ť said B.C. Premier Christy Clark at a press conference midday Tuesday in front of the B.C. Parliament Buildings; mere steps from where the devices are alleged to have been discovered.
Just as surreptitiously as they were placed, however, the devices were carted away as evidence by a team of investigators that had been on the tail of the would-be bombers since February.
Crowds packed onto the lush green lawns of B.C.â€™s seat of power were apparently none the wiser that they had set out lawn chairs on the staging ground for one of the most potentially deadly terrorism plots in recent Canadian history.
Although both suspected plotters came from across the Salish Sea, in Surrey, they chose to target a city known for its fervent commitment to tranquility.
As the Canadian city known for its unusually snow-free winters, Victoria hosts one of the countryâ€™s highest proportions of senior citizens. Horse-drawn carriages ply the downtown, citizens perform meticulous counts of the cityâ€™s flowers each spring, Victoria-area municipalities appoint official town criers and a robust community of tea rooms compete for cruise ship passengersâ€™ High Tea dollars.
â€śIt comes, Iâ€™m sure, as a shock to everyone, both because of the intention of the crime and that the intention was to be here, in this amazingly safe community,â€ť said Victoria Mayor Dean Fortin on Tuesday.
On Monday, as the climax of a five-month, multi-agency terrorism investigation played out around them, Victorians spent July 1 assembling on the lawn of the provincial legislature grounds to construct a human Canadian flag, before settling in for a night of live music and fireworks.
Premier Clark said she was in the interior-B.C. city of Kelowna on the morning of July 1 when she was first informed of the thwarted plot after receiving a phone call from B.C. Attorney General Suzanne Anton.
â€śWhat I know is that they placed the bombs around the Parliament Buildings,â€ť said Ms. Clark. â€śThey appear to have been powerful devices and my strong suspicion is they hoped to damage the buildings and the people around it.â€ť
The devices, which had been rendered inert by prior police action, would likely have had little effect on the buildingâ€™s heavy granite exterior if they had detonated. Nevertheless, the spray of debris would likely have left an human aftermath similar to that of the Boston Marathon bombings.
â€śLet me say this about those who would resort to terror; you will not succeed, you will not succeed in damaging our democratic institutions,â€ť said Ms. Clark.
Despite being among the few Canadian cities to hit the crosshairs of Islamic terrorism, life went on pretty much unabated on Tuesday. Aside from reporters and a bank of news cameras, among the press conferenceâ€™s only other attendees were a small crowd of tourists bedecked in Hawaiian shirts, Tilley hats and fanny packs, with whom the Premier agreed to pose for snapshots after speaking.
Image released by the RCMP showing improvised explosive device (IED) created with a pressure cooker filled with rusted nails.
Six unarmed legislative security agents kept the peace.
Victoria police were aware of the operation, but as far as the public was concerned on Canada Day, the police departmentâ€™s chief concern on Canada Day appeared to be largely watching out for teenage ruffians and searching backpacks for liquor.
â€śThe nature and extent of our contribution cannot be disclosed due to the fact that this is now before the court,â€ť wrote Victoria Police Department spokesman Cst. Mike Russell in a statement given to the National Post.
â€śWe can reiterate, however, that the public was never at risk during this operation.â€ť
Despite its non-violent reputation, Vancouver Island is not completely immune to terrorist activity.
Nearly 30 years ago, Duncan, B.C., just 50 minutes of Victoria, was linked to the 1985 Air India terrorist bombing, which killed 329 people and still stands as the largest mass murder in Canadian history.
Collaborators Inderjit Singh Reyat and Talwinder Singh Parmar bought bomb components in Duncan and used the woods outside the town to test an explosive device mere weeks before the attack."