Cabinet minister says Canada terrorist target

By Paul Mayne
Thursday, March 27, 2008
Federal Minister of Public Safety Stockwell Day put it plain and simple when speaking to students on campus last week about Canada’s role in fighting terrorism.
Federal Minister of Public Safety Stockwell Day spoke to Western students Mar. 19 about Canada’s role in the fight against terrorism.
“Canada is a target when it comes to global terrorism,” he says. “This is the reality of life on our planet.”
Visiting Western as part of the Faculty of Law’s Distinguished Speaker Series, Day discussed the 2006 arrest of 18 Toronto-area individuals in connection with proposed terrorist acts ranging from conspiracy to carry out a terrorist activity, to bomb making and illegally importing guns and ammunition.
The alleged plot was to blow up Parliament, behead the prime minister and cause destruction in the streets of Toronto,” says Day, adding the plot reached the point that more than 3,000 pounds of ammonium nitrate had been purchased for bomb making.
In Al-Qaeda founder Osama Bin Laden’s latest ‘hit parade’ list, Canada is the only country yet to be hit with a terrorist act. With a $6-billion portfolio - including federal policing, border control, Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), emergency planning and federal corrections – Day says the threat is real.
“We need to strike a correct balance for security purposes, but at the same time have respect for individual rights and freedoms,” says Day.
He uses the example of Canada’s refugee system, which he describes as one of the most generous. If an individual is determined to be a risk to national security, the government can use a ‘security certificate’ to detain them.
Previously, if someone appealed a refugee status decision, it would take years to hear the case, all the while enjoying broad rights to live in the country. Now, the government can use a security certificate, which jails a person until their hearing is complete or returns them to their departure point. Since 1991, the government has used it 28 times – seven times since 9/11.
“It’s what we call a three-sided detention cell,” says Day. “They can leave at any time but must return to their home country.”
“We’re a nation that is a possible target because of our ideology. We are a target for simply what we believe in,” says Day. “We are all vulnerable.”
Day also spoke of changes to CSIS and the legislation on creating a separate agency for foreign intelligence gathering, as well creation of an RCMP Reform Implementation Council.
The council will provide advice to Day on reforms within the RCMP including a national back-up policy to guide officers when they go on certain emergency calls; enhancing leadership development programs; strengthening communications with staff and staff relations reps; and improving management of the discipline system.
“Our government is committed to ensuring that the RCMP is a strong, accountable organization,” says Day. “This council will help to ensure that the RCMP implements the reforms necessary to modernize the organization and its operations, and ensure it will be well placed to meet the challenges of the future.”

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