Three Ways To Fight Terrorism

March 3, 2006: Three Ways To Fight Terrorism

Three ways to fight terrorism

National Post

Friday, March 03, 2006

This week, the Fraser Institute published Canada's Inadequate Response to Terrorism: the Need for Policy Reform, a research paper by immigration expert and former Canadian diplomat Martin Collacott. As Mr. Collacott warns in his 102-page report, there are a variety of terrorist groups operating in Canada. They endanger not only our lives, but also our economy: If a Canadian-based group managed to strike a high-profile U.S. target, Washington's response would likely be severe. Long lines at the border and intrusive airport searches would be the least of our worries.

We will not try to summarize Mr. Collacott's many sensible recommendations, instead focusing on the three most important. The first would help keep terrorists out of the country. The second would help another democratic nation in the fight against one of the world's most ruthless terrorist organizations. And the third would send an important symbolic message to Canadians that this country will no longer prioritize multiculturalism above other, more important principles.

Canada must radically overhaul its refugee determination policies. As Mr. Collacott writes, our approval rate for asylum seekers is close to 50% — four times the average for other Western nations. One major reason is that we have stretched the meaning of “refugee” beyond its internationally recognized definition as someone who has a well-founded fear of persecution in their home country.

As even former immigration minister Judy Sgro once conceded, most refugee claimants to Canada are simply looking for better economic prospects. By letting them in as refugees, we are creating a back door for migrants looking to avoid Canada's normal immigration protocols. Worse, we are permitting dangerous suspects from terror-incubating countries to find refuge in our country.

Even when refugees are turned down, they often are permitted to remain in Canada through the seemingly interminable appeals process permitted under existing legislation. A prime example is Ahmed Ressam, the failed refugee claimant who stayed in Canada during the 1990s plotting to blow up a Los Angeles airport.

A solution requires not only streamlining the appeals process and imposing stricter criteria, but also ensuring the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) is run in a competent, professional manner. As Mr. Collacott notes, the IRB contains many competent members.

But it has also long been used as a dumping-ground for burned out political hacks, as well as liberal appointees forced on the IRB by pro-immigrant activist groups. While some improvements have been made recently in the selection process, groups with a vested interest in maintaining high acceptance levels and keeping the system as wide open as possible continue to have a major role in determining who gets appointed.

It has been more than four years since Canada passed the 2001 Anti-Terrorism Act, which allows our government to outlaw membership in, and fundraising for, a defined list of terrorist organizations. Yet to Canada's great shame, the Tamil Tigers — a Sri Lankan separatist group that has conducted dozens of suicide bombings, assassinated two heads of state and abducted thousands of children to act as conscript soldiers — is not on that list.

And as former Liberal justice minister Irwin Cotler effectively admitted to this editorial board when he came to visit our offices, the reason for this is political: There are roughly 200,000 Canadians of Sri Lankan origin living in the Toronto area. Many of them are supporters of the Tigers.

The result of the Liberals' cowardice is that the Tigers have been permitted to conduct door-to-door shakedowns of the Tamil community for years. This past weekend, the Toronto Star published a chilling interview with a Tamil Canadian who received regular visits from a Tiger bagman. The message many such voluntary “donors” receive is clear: Give money, or your family in Sri Lanka will pay the price.

As a former Canadian High Commissioner to Sri Lanka, Mr. Collacott knows exactly how thoroughly the Tigers have scarred that country. To read Canada's Inadequate Response to Terrorism is to appreciate what a disgrace it is that the ongoing terrorist war in that country is being fought with money donated legally by Canadian citizens.

Stockwell Day, Canada's new Minister of Public Safety, has pledged to outlaw the Tigers. We urge him to do so immediately.

Since the Trudeau era, Canadians have venerated multiculturalism — the vague idea that people from different backgrounds should be encouraged to express their cultural differences. But in recent years, we have come face to face with the limits of this doctrine. It is one thing to encourage ethnic-themed food fairs and parade floats. It is quite another to look the other way when members of a particular community are fomenting hatred, or explicitly advocating terrorism.

Fortunately, Canada's Muslim community is nowhere near as radicalized as those in Britain, France and other European nations. Indeed, most Muslims in this country are just as appalled by militant Islam as the rest of us — though you would not always know it from the terror apologism spouted by such self-appointed mouthpieces as the Canadian Islamic Congress (CIC).

One good way to keep things this way, as Mr. Collacott notes, is to ensure that immigrants to this country realize what Canada stands for. As he writes: “When those granted permanent residence status reach the stage of applying for citizenship, they 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 … Someone who has sworn to uphold Canadian values … and who subsequently acts in a manner that is in serious conflict with these commitments — such as involvement in or support for terrorist activities — should [have] their citizenship withdrawn.”

Predictably, this last recommendation has raised the ire of activist groups. The CIC, most notably, has put out a hysterical press release accusing Mr. Collacott of “immigrant phobia.” But in fact, the measures he proposes are already law in many other Western nations. Tolerance is all fine and good. But no democracy should be forced to endure the spectacle of minority communities advocating violent jihad against the rest of society.

In fact, it is legitimate immigrants and refugees who would be the biggest beneficiaries of the reforms contained in the new Fraser Institute report. To the extent that bigotry is a problem in our society, it is often because some Canadians take the actions of a few unscrupulous newcomers — bogus refugees, terrorist supporters, Tamil Tiger enforcers — as a reflection on everyone else. Mr. Collacott's recommendations would go a long way to addressing these problems, and make Canada a safer country in the process.

National Post 2006