March 1, 2006: Make Immigrants Take Oath of Loyalty
Make immigrants take oath of loyalty
Report:If newcomers breach Canada's values, they should be deported, ex-diplomat declares
Stewart Bell, The National Post
Published: Wednesday, March 01, 2006
TORONTO – The federal government should require new immigrants to take an oath of loyalty to Canada and its values — and deport them if they breach it, a former diplomat says in a study of counter-terrorism policies released yesterday.
The Fraser Institute report, authored by former senior Foreign Affairs official Martin Collacott, also says the government must give special attention to working with the Muslim community since radical Islamic terrorists are currently the greatest danger to Canada's security.
While Canadians are committed to welcoming diverse immigrants from around the world, newcomers must understand that they are expected to accept core Canadian values, the report says.
“If they find such acceptance difficult, they should not come here in the first place,” Mr. Collacott writes in Canada's Inadequate Response to Terrorism: The Need for Policy Reform.
The paper proposes that those who apply to immigrate to Canada should be told “what is expected of them and that, if they fail to live up to our expectations, they will be removed from Canada.”
In addition, before becoming citizens, immigrants should be required to take an oath “swearing that they are not only fully committed to Canadian values and will give their complete allegiance and loyalty to Canada, but that their actions in the future will reflect these commitments.”
Those who behave in a manner that seriously conflicts with Canada's principles — for example by supporting or engaging in terrorism — should lose their citizenship, he argues.
But University of Toronto associate professor of law Audrey Macklin, an immigration and refugee law specialist, has doubts about the proposal, which she called “odd.”
“To be judged according to your compliance with Canadian values and to strip somebody of citizenship on that basis is a kind of ironic move,” she said.
“You are really in a sense acting outside law allegedly because people don't honour Canadian values. Well I think the rule of law is a Canadian value, so I think it would be a very odd thing to do.”
The recommendation to the new Conservative government comes as Europe and North America are struggling over how to deal with anti-western, pro-terrorist extremist elements within their Muslim communities.
The government's failure to ensure immigrants are fully committed to living according to Canada's liberal democratic values explains why some put overseas causes ahead of Canadian interests, the paper says.
“Greater emphasis has been given in recent years to the rights of newcomers than to their obligations to Canada,” Mr. Collacott writes.
“This has in all likelihood been a contributing factor in encouraging them to treat this country as a convenient and generous base from which to engage in or mount support for their favourite conflicts abroad.”
Following last July's suicide bombings in London by British-born Muslims, the British government introduced measures to crack down on the incitement and glorification of terrorism.
Germany is also attempting to screen new immigrants for extremist views, while in Australia last week, Prime Minister John Howard said he was concerned that some parts of the Muslim community were “utterly antagonistic” to Australian society.
The proposal is one of several in the 99-page paper by Mr. Collacott, a senior fellow at the Fraser Institute who served as a Canadian ambassador in Asia and the Middle East, and was counter-terrorism policy co-ordinator at Foreign Affairs.
The Liberals began reforming Canada's counter-terrorism defences after 9/11, but the task remains unfinished, Mr. Collacott writes, citing evidence that major world terrorist groups continue to operate in Canada.
He argues that Canada's official multiculturalism policy is partly to blame because it encourages immigrants to place the “loyalties and enmities” of their homelands before their duty to Canada.
He also blames interest groups, and politicians who he said were “less than enthusiastic about taking a tough stand on terrorism” at the cost of electoral support.
In the paper, he says that while a variety of terrorist groups are active in Canada “most terrorist attacks in western countries in recent years have been carried out by Muslim immigrants.”
He urges Canada to reform the refugee and immigration systems, but also to build bridges with the Muslim community, both to ensure Muslims are a full part of Canadian society and to enlist their help in dealing with extremists.
“Canadians should not be reticent about asking members of the Muslim or any other community to willingly volunteer to our security authorities information they may possess regarding terrorists or terrorist supporters,” the paper says.
“The result of our past reluctance to make such demands is obvious from the freedom that extremists have enjoyed in being able to move around unhampered in Canadian society.”
The growth of Islamic radicalism within Canada is one of the top concerns of federal counter-terrorism agencies. Canada's intelligence service believes that Canadian Muslims are being drawn to extremism as a result of parental influence, charismatic spiritual leaders and anger over what they see as Muslim oppression.
The Ottawa Citizen 2006