EDITORIAL – Were Portapique murders an act of ‘white male terrorism’?

Photo released by RCMP during hunt for Gabriel Wortman pointed to the number on his vehicle.

An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.

WHENEVER A BAD THING seems “senseless,” we want to make sense of it.

So, we’re all still trying to fathom why a man would dress up as an RCMP officer and drive around in a fake police car killing people.

One of the more interesting theories gaining prominence is that it was all about violence against women. Terms like “toxic masculinity,” “misogyny,” and “gender-based violence,” are being applied to the Nova Scotia tragedy.

One university professor even went so far as to say the murders were based on race and white privilege and that men are raised into what she called “violent hegemonic masculinity.” She used the phrase “white male terrorism” to describe the Portapique murders.

Groups such as Women’s Shelters Canada, the Transition House Association of Nova Scotia and several Nova Scotia activists are demanding recognition of, even an inquiry into, what they call the “femicidal” aspects of the murders.

This is driven, in part, by the fact Gabriel Wortman physically assaulted his girlfriend before he went on his rampage.  They also point out that 13 of the 22 victims were women.

This certainly confirms that domestic violence was involved but the broader theory breaks down in the overall context of the killings, especially the fact that Wortman apparently drew up an extensive hit list, one that wasn’t particular to women.

As for the fact that a little more than half the victims were women, one could as easily say almost half were men. There’s no evidence so far that the killer’s vengeance was based on gender.

Violence against women is a big, big problem and it’s hard to over-state it, and several mass murders have been targeted at women. However, I think we have to await more evidence before we can conclude that this was another one.

I’m Mel Rothenburger, the Armchair Mayor.

Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and newspaper editor. He writes five commentaries a week for CFJC Today, publishes the opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at

About Mel Rothenburger (8316 Articles) is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

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