Canada's flawed refugee system and a lack of
political will to reform the program has been a major factor in
making Canada a prime destination for terrorists, according to a
new paper, Canada's Inadequate Response to Terrorism
, released today by The Fraser Institute.
While improvements also need to be made to the screening of
immigrant applicants and the screening and tracking of visitors,
our highly dysfunctional refugee determination system has been
the channel most often used by terrorists 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," said Martin Collacott, author of the
paper and Senior Fellow at the Institute.
The paper looks at the specific shortcomings of current policies
and 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
A further explanation for the reluctance of the federal
government to take firm measures against terrorists and their
supporters has been 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.
In addition to improving controls over who enters and leaves the
country, policies in other areas also need to be changed if
Canada is to deal effectively with the prospect of extremist
groups increasingly recruiting terrorists from within our ethnic
In particular, current multicultural policy has to be revised so
that, while we continue to welcome people of different
backgrounds from all over the world, there is a much clearer
expectation that newcomers will be committed to Canadian values
and be loyal to Canada.
While this applies to people of all ethnic and religious
backgrounds, special attention must be given to working with
Muslims since their community is the source of the terrorists who
pose the greatest danger to our national security. "Canada must
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," said Collacott.
The paper also looks 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
argues 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.
Collacott points out that the gap between what the United States
is doing to increase security along its borders and the steps
Canada is taking will become increasingly apparent in the years
to come and, unless the threat from terrorism unexpectedly
diminishes, our failure to demonstrate that we are serious about
protecting our borders could cost us dearly, particularly in the
area of trade.
"As a matter of urgency, the Canadian government should address
the various issues of border security identified in this paper.
If we wait until the next major terrorist attack in North America
before taking action, the costs to Canada could well be
devastating," concluded Collacott.
About the Author
Martin Collacott joined the diplomatic service in 1966 and was
posted to Saigon, Hong Kong, Beijing, Lagos, and Tokyo. In the
latter part of his career he was Canadian High Commissioner to
Sri Lanka, and Ambassador to Syria, Lebanon, and Cambodia. As
Director General for Security Services at the Department of
Foreign Affairs in Ottawa he coordinated counterterrorism policy
and represented Canada at international meetings on this subject,
as well as chaired the Economic Summit Counterterrorism Experts
Meeting and the Canada-USA Bilateral Consultative Group on
Following his retirement from the Department of Foreign Affairs
he took part in a number of projects in Asia related to conflict
resolution, human rights, and governance. He is currently a
Senior Fellow at The Fraser Institute in Vancouver.