Madam Speaker, the results of the terrorist attacks on September 11 and the subsequent perceived inadequate response of the Liberal government has led to some increased calls by United States legislators to tighten border security and entry requirements between our countries. However, the need of our government at this time is to try to focus not on the common border with the United States, but on securing our own shores against the terrorist threat.
A motion was put forward in the House on September 18, which stated:
That the House calls upon the government to introduce anti-terrorism legislation similar in principle to the United Kingdom's Terrorism Act 2000, and that such legislation provide for:
the naming of all known international terrorist organizations operating in Canada;
a complete ban on fundraising activities in support of terrorism, and provisions for the seizure of assets belonging to terrorists or terrorist organizations;
the immediate ratification of the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism;
the creation of specific crimes for engaging in terrorist training activities in Canada or inciting terrorist acts abroad from Canada;
the prompt extradition of foreign nationals charged with acts of terrorism, even if the charges are capital offences; and
the detention and deportation to their country of origin of any people illegally in Canada or failed refugee claimants who have been linked to terrorist organizations.
I was very happy to join my opposition coalition colleagues in supporting the motion, but regrettably the Prime Minister and his fellow Liberal MP's voted against it, so the motion was defeated 199 to 70.
We see once again that, despite the best efforts of opposition MP's and our own security agencies, the government is refusing to change domestic policies according to the response that is required.
The Prime Minister's assertion that responsibility for the interdiction of terrorists entering the United States from Canada is that of U.S. border officials, merely illustrates his failure to recognize the responsibility of preventing such individuals from entering Canada in the first place. The border with our American neighbours involves the crossing of 500,000 people a day and over a billion dollars in trade on a daily basis. Effecting our border, impeding the flow of goods and services and people across the border will obviously be detrimental to the economies of both our countries.
Tighter border control does not address the underlying security risks associated with the loopholes in Canada's immigration and refugee system that are being exploited. That is not to suggest that the problem is with Canada's willingness to accept genuine refugees and immigrants, rather it is a legitimate and longstanding concern that the system itself fails to guard against those who abuse the loopholes in our immigration laws and use our country as a base for illegal activity, including terrorism.
The Liberals have deliberately merged these two separate issues thereby preventing security interests from becoming effectively dealt with because reasoned debate is supplanted by specious accusations of racism. I would like to illustrate a couple of examples for the benefit of the House.
On October 4 In the House of Commons, in a question to the immigration minister in which an opposition member asked if the minister would commit unequivocally to working with Ontario and any other province that came forward to pick up the slack in the deportation of people illegally in Canada, her response was to accuse the member of equating refugees with criminals. She stated “It is simply wrong to broad-brush all of those who are in Canada who have deportation orders”. That is the technique.
Another good example took place on October 1 when an opposition member stated “We know there have been terrorists living among us. We know that they get here illegally through our refugee system”. The member then asked what specific steps the Prime Minister could tell us about that he had taken to protect Canadians and indirectly to protect our neighbours.
The response of the minister was that not all refugee claimants are criminals and that the member was simply fearmongering.
In a final example, the immigration minister's first comments following the terrorist attack was to criticize anyone who would point out the loopholes in our immigration refugee system that was being exploited by terrorists by characterizing them as being “anti-immigrant and anti-everybody rhetoric”, when in fact it is the minister engaging in rhetoric.
As I have stated, elected members of parliament and our country's own security agencies have highlighted how the system has failed. Opposition MPs have been demanding since 1993 that loopholes in the legislation governing entry into Canada be closed. I would like to quote from a 1996 Canadian Security Intelligence Service report which stated the following:
As other developed countries tighten their responses to terrorism, Canada will continue to be attractive to terrorists as a safe haven and a means of ready access to the United States.
The report further stated:
In Canada, the threat from international terrorism will continue to be associated with homeland conflicts. Many of the world's terrorist groups have a presence in Canada, where they engage in a variety of activities in support of terrorism, including: providing logistic support for terrorism outside Canada; developing the potential for terrorist actions in Canada; fund-raising, advocacy, and information dissemination; intimidating Canadian citizens in émigré communities; providing safe haven for terrorists; arranging transit to and from other countries; and raising money through illegal activities.
These activities in Canada are an obvious concern for intelligence and law enforcement officials. Insufficient effort in either area could leave Canada open to charges of being implicated indirectly in acts elsewhere against other states. To avoid such a possibility, even greater cooperation with like-minded countries will be needed for the foreseeable future.
That is from a 1996 report.
The concern I see with the legislation is that it has the potential, because some aspects of it are targeting our common border with the United States, to sacrifice the free flow of trade between our two countries instead of addressing the issues that would prevent terrorists from reaching Canadian soil in the first place.
Seen in this light, the government's efforts continue to be geared toward after the fact measures rather than being proactive in combating the terrorist threat from abroad.
On Monday of this week the opposition coalition put the following motion before the House of Commons. It stated:
That this House reaffirm its condemnation of the terrorist attacks against our NATO ally, the United States of America, on September 11, 2001, and affirm its support for Canada's courageous men and women in the Canadian Forces who are responding to defend freedom and democracy in the international military coalition against terrorism; and
That this House hereby order the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade and the Standing Committee on National Defence and Veterans Affairs to sit jointly to hold frequent meetings with ministers and officials of the government and the military.
Shamefully, in an act of outright political cowardice, the New Democratic Party was the only party that voted against that motion and opposed Canada's military effort in support of our allies in the war on terrorism.
At a time when this country should be united in its support for our men and women in uniform, the NDP has shamefully decided to play politics with the issue by undermining our country's contribution to the international military effort. By voting against the motion, the NDP has proven its irrelevance and once again relegated itself to the fringe of Canadian politics.
I would like to also point out that 80% of Canadians support the international coalition to fight terrorism. One is either against those of us who believe in protecting democracy and freedom or one is against us.
The NDP has chosen to sympathize with terrorists.
I realize that I am running out of time so I will just sum up with a condemnation of the NDP and of the Liberal government for focusing--