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Canada's Inadequate Response to Terrorism: The Need for Policy Reform

Type: Research Studies
Date Published: February 28, 2006
Authors:
Research Topics:
Defence & Security, Immigration
Failure to exercise adequate control over the entry and the departure of non-Canadians on our territory has been a significant factor in making Canada a destination for terrorists. The latter have made our highly dysfunctional refugee determination system the channel most often used for gaining entry. A survey that we made based on media reports of 25 Islamic terrorists and suspects who entered Canada as adults indicated that 16 claimed refugee status, four were admitted as landed immigrants and the channel of entry for the remaining five was not identified. Making a refugee claim is used by both terrorists and criminals as a means of rendering their removal from the country more difficult.

In addition to examining specific shortcomings of current policies, this paper will also look at the reasons why the government has not rectified them. These reasons include the lack of resources provided for effective program delivery as well as the influence of special interest groups who argue that the rights of refugee claimants and others ordered removed from the country should take priority over other considerations.

A further reason for the reluctance of the government to take firm measures against terrorists and their supporters is concern over the possible loss of political support. A notable example of this is Ottawa's failure to designate the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam as a terrorist group. Related to this is the fact that little action has been taken to stop terrorist fundraising in Canada even though this is now estimated at $180 million a year.

This paper will recommend that we demand a more explicit commitment to Canada and Canadian values on the part of newcomers. Putting into place the requirements for such a commitment may be complicated by official multiculturalism policy which, according to former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, has evolved from its original intention of helping immigrants integrate into Canadian society into a celebration of their countries of origin.

Canada must also give emphasis to building bridges with members of the Muslim community both to ensure they feel fully a part of Canadian society as well as to enlist their full cooperation in identifying extremists in their midst.

Finally, the paper will look at the impact on our trade with the United States and our economy in general if there is another major terrorist attack in North America and we have failed to take reasonable precautions against such an eventuality. This paper will argue that the measures we need to take are necessary for our own security and sovereignty quite apart from helping to ensure that our border with the United States remains open for the movement of goods and people.
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