NO MATTER WHAT NAME YOU ATTACH TO IT..IGNORING THE VIOLENCE PRESCRIBED WITHIN IT DOESN’T CHANGE WHAT IT REALLY IS..
Welcome to Canada?
It should go without saying that the majority of immigrants come to Canada in search of a better life. But in today’s concluding essay, Robert Sibley draws on intelligence specialists, Muslim scholars and academics to argue that Canadians need to recognize that immigration has implications for national security and that the system needs to be reformed.
I have never learned to fight for my freedom. I was only good at enjoying it.
— Dutch writer Oscar van den Booguard, 2006.
When a Canadian is concerned about his own way of life, this concern is not racism.
— David Lam, the former lieutenant-governor of British Columbia.
David Harris remembers a phone conversation a short time after he’d returned to his Ottawa home from a trip to the United States in the spring of 1999. He’d been in Washington, testifying before a congressional subcommittee about the threat Canada posed to the United States as a potential source for terrorism.
The call involved an official at the Canadian Embassy in Washington, headed at the time by ambassador Raymond Chrétien, the nephew of then-prime minister Jean Chrétien. The official admonished Harris for having spoken against Canadian interests, at least as perceived by the embassy.
“I was told I’d upset certain people at the embassy in Washington,” says Harris, recalling the incident nearly 12 years later. Harris still declines to attach a name to the voice on the other end of the phone line. “Let’s just say they didn’t appreciate my testimony.”
What had Harris said that so troubled the diplomats? Actually, nothing anyone abreast of security matters didn’t already know: Canada was falling short when it came to dealing with the threat of terrorism, especially at the political level.
In 1998, three years before the 9/11 attacks, Ward Elcock, then the director of the Canadian Security and Intelligence Service, highlighted the Chrétien government’s apparent reluctance to take that threat seriously when he publicly warned there were “more international terrorist groups active here (in Canada) than in any country in the world,” with perhaps the exception of the United States. Surely, he said, Canadians didn’t want their country becoming “some R and R facility for terrorists” or through negligence and inaction “an unofficial state sponsor of terrorism.”
That’s essentially what Harris, a one-time chief of strategic planning for CSIS, said in his testimony to the House of Representatives subcommittee on immigration: The Liberal government wasn’t serious about national security. “In the face of this situation, Canada’s security and intelligence community have done heroic work. But government reaction at the political level has not been adequate to the counterterrorist task.”
It’s not surprising such statements would upset the embassy. Canadian diplomats in Washington devoted much attention to reassuring American officialdom that all is well in the peaceable kingdom. Harris’s testimony was a scrawl across the embassy’s happy-face poster. As Harris puts it: “They saw what I was doing as undermining their diplomatic efforts. It was made very clear they were dissatisfied with me.”
They should have been dissatisfied with their own complacency considering that a few months later, in December 1999, a refugee claimant by the name of Ahmed Ressam, who’d been living on welfare and petty crime in Canada for four years, was captured by U.S. customs agents trying to smuggle explosives across the border as part of an end-of-the-millennium al-Qaeda plot to blow up Los Angeles airport.
Harris’s testimony effectively underscored how it was possible for Ressam to operate a terrorist cell in Canada for so long. “Americans often tell me that it is difficult to think of Canada and international terrorism in the same context,” he said. “Canadians themselves have the same problem. But the largely untold truth is that Canada and terrorism do go together. A failure to see this stems from a failure to realize that Canada is simply not the country it used to be.”
For decades, Canadians have been told — propagandized, some might say — high levels of immigration sustain economic growth, avoid labour shortages and make up for an aging population. Challenging these claims treads on numerous toes — politicians who regard the immigration system as a vote-importing scheme, corporations that want workers on the cheap, and an immigration industry composed of lawyers, consultants, settlement groups and activists enjoy all the benefits taxpayer money can buy.
Canada has the largest per capita level of immigration in the world — some 280,000 immigrants and refugee claimants a year for a population of 34 million. In early 2009, Immigration Minister Jason Kenney was decidedly upbeat in pointing out that if you include “temporary” workers and students the number is in the 500,000 range.
Do Canadians as a whole support this? Hard to say. They can’t vote directly on the issue of immigration, and political parties avoid serious discussion of the topic like the plague. But a recent worldwide poll by Ipsos suggests neither the politicians nor the immigration lobby would like any vote results. More than half of Canadians — about 56 per cent — think immigration places too much of a burden on public services. A recent study by researchers Herbert Grubel and Patrick Grady lends support to that judgment. They estimate newcomers cost Canadians between $16 billion and $23 billion a year because they receive more in government benefits than they contribute in taxes.
It borders on banal to point out that the majority of immigrants come to Canada seeking nothing more than a better future. The problem is, there are some among those hundreds of thousands who are hostile to Canada’s liberal order. This minority, say immigration critics, has become increasingly influential since the 9/11 attacks, attempting by various means — lawfare campaigns against journalists and “human rights” complaints against publishers to what Harris calls “stealth jihad” and “infiltration” campaigns — to promote an anti-liberal agenda.
In this regard, Canada’s immigration policies have made the country susceptible to radical ideological influences because, in Harris’s words, they “reinforce the growth of a dangerous political demographic.”
Harris, the founder of INSIGNIS Strategic Research and a lawyer with 30 years’ experience in intelligence affairs, took that message to Parliament Hill earlier this year. “One cannot discuss immigrant integration in the national security and public-safety context without appreciating the sheer magnitude of Canada’s immigration, refugee and related intakes,” he told a Senate committee. “In recent years, tens of thousands came to Canada from Muslim-majority lands. At a time when radical Islam is a threat and nine of 10 Canadian Muslims are foreign-born, one must ask about the attitudes newcomers bring from source countries.”
Martin Collacott, a former Canadian ambassador and now a spokesman for the Centre for Immigration Policy Reform, raises similar concerns in several studies that consider the connection between immigration and national security in the post-9/11 era. Mass migration at current levels, he argues, is basically incompatible with national security because it overwhelms the ability of government agencies to screen out security threats. Moreover, it creates large immigrant enclaves — a 2004 Statistics Canada report states there were more than 250 “visible minority neighbourhoods” in Canada, up from six in 1981 — that serve as a pool that allows, unknowingly or not, terrorist groups to operate largely out of sight.
It is simply not possible, says Collacott, to provide adequate security screening when you’re dealing with hundreds of thousands of immigrants. And this failure to exercise adequate control over the entry and departure of non-Canadians “has been a significant factor in making Canada a destination for terrorism.”
Some of Canada’s more prominent Muslim intellectuals and journalists make a similar case. “One of the explosive issues in Canadian politics, as it is in other western countries, is immigration,” says Salim Mansur, a political scientist at the University of Western Ontario. “Since 9/11, this issue has become important or, it might even be said, vital in discussing the future shape of the country in terms of its inherited cultural and political values. Most Canadians realize the unprecedented immigration numbers over the past several decades, and the composition of newly arriving immigrants, have adversely and unduly accelerated the pace of changing the country’s profile.”
But why, if Canada is so vulnerable to a terrorist presence, has it been one of the few western countries not directly attacked by terrorists?
“That’s the big question people don’t ask,” says Raheel Raza, a Toronto journalist and author. “There is a good reason for this. Canada is a safe haven for the Islamists. They don’t want to expose the fact that they have infiltrated into government departments and outreach programs.”
Collacott, who was once director general of security services for Foreign Affairs, echoes that view. Terrorist groups see Canada as a place for fundraising and planning operations that will take place elsewhere. It is not unreasonable to think they wouldn’t target Canada because that would “risk jeopardizing the relative freedom with which they were able to able to carry on their activities.”
Why would any law-and-order liberal society allow this? Try arrogance leavened with ignorance. Or, as Harris puts it: “Rational polities do not bring in large numbers of newcomers from such potentially ‘western-hostile’ sources regions (as Pakistan and Iran) while a war is going on. But they might if their influential intellectual elite were bereft of a proper sense of the risks involved, and therefore of the appropriate balance (between liberty and security).”
Of course, to question the mythology of immigration is to invite denunciations of “racism” and “bigotry” or, as is currently popular, “Islamophobia.” Moreover, in the aftermath of the Norwegian killings, questioning immigration or multiculturalism makes many even more desperate to be politically correct.
However, critics of Canada’s immigration policies contend that in the post-9/11 era it is morally irresponsible and intellectually untenable to deny a connection between immigration, Islamism and terrorism — “Canada’s leading terrorist threat has repeatedly been identified as Islamic extremism,” Harris notes — and this connection cannot go unchallenged if Canadians wish to preserve their liberal democratic order. According to critics, the immigration system contributes to the erosion of Canada’s liberal secular values by creating conditions that make it easier for ideas and practices antithetical to liberal society — gender inequality, polygamy, demands for prohibitions on “anti-religious” speech, Sharia law — to gain a foothold of acceptance in the public arena.
“The recent openness of several public universities to radical demands for taxpayer-supported prayer rooms, footbaths, and even separate, gender apartheid-style female swimming hours could be regarded as a compromising of basic, religiously-neutral standards in the face of fundamentalist pressure,” says Harris.
These are, no doubt, controversial claims. Yet, there is anecdotal evidence, as well as scholarly commentary, to suggest concerns about immigrants and national security aren’t unreasonable, or irresponsible.
Ahmed Hussen, the head of the Canadian Somali Congress, testified in late July before the House of Representatives Committee on Homeland Security — seems you have to appear before a congressional committee in Washington to get attention in Canada — that dozens of young Canadian Somalis had “disappeared” to join al-Shabaab, a radical militia tied to al-Qaeda that is fighting to impose an Islamist regime on Somalia. He blamed “radicals in our community” that feed the young a “dangerous and constant anti-western narrative.”
The RCMP reported in June they’d used various “disruptive” techniques — intrusive surveillance, for example — to defuse potential terrorist activities.
Then there was Mohammad Momin Khawaja, a Canadian-born Muslim software engineer working under contract to the Foreign Affairs Department, convicted in 2009 for his part in international jihadist plots. As well, the so-called Toronto 18, mostly young Canadian-born Muslims, were recently convicted of plotting terrorist strikes against Canadian institutions, including blowing up Parliament and beheading the prime minister.
Do these few examples reflect a “dangerous political demographic”? Consider this: A 2007 Environics poll indicated 12 per cent of Canadian Muslims would be prepared to justify the kinds of terrorist assaults contemplated by the Toronto 18. There are about 800,000 Muslims in Canada. The Environics poll results imply that 96,000 could justify the murder of the prime minister.
Such numbers prompt immigration critics to raise the issue of radical influences working their way into Canada’s institutions, including schools, government agencies, courts, the police and military, and legislative bodies. Indeed, in 2010, the Muslim Canadian Congress, applauding Defence Minister Peter MacKay’s cancellation of a speech at the department’s Ottawa headquarters by imam Zijad Delic, said it was “troubled by the fact that Islamists had managed to penetrate the highest levels of the Ottawa bureaucracy and the political apparatus of all political parties.”
Congress vice-president Salma Siddiqui “strongly welcomed” MacKay’s decision not only for exposing the fraud of Islamic History Month but also for acting in the best interests of national security. “In the past few years we have seen so-called Islamic History Month turned into a propaganda machine for Islamists who want to introduce Sharia law and who wish to hide behind the cover of teaching history to infiltrate the highest levels of government in Ottawa.”
In 2008, the organization charged that the Ontario Human Rights Commission, in its pursuit of complaints against journalist Mark Steyn and Maclean’s magazine, had become, in Siddiqui’s words, “the virtual organ of Canada’s Islamist organizations.”
Harris believes the RCMP Community Outreach program is compromised. The program “has been so fraught with mismanagement that Muslim moderates want it shuttered because of concerns that it has legitimized radical elements by ‘engaging’ them in outreach.”
Islamist zealots are a minority within Islam, says Salim Mansur, but that doesn’t mean Islamist views aren’t influential. “The politics of Islamism resonate widely among Muslims, including those living in western countries,” says the author of a newly published book, Delectable Lie: A Liberal Repudiation of Multiculturalism. “Muslims engage politically to bring their host western governments to recognize Sharia and make allowance for them to live in accordance with its provision. The push for Sharia recognition in family laws as part of the multicultural arrangement in the West has become one of the key objectives of immigrant Muslim activists, and as the Muslim population grows in numbers the mainstream political parties have also become increasingly receptive to this idea.”
So it seems. In 2004, former Ontario attorney general Marion Boyd recommended allowing the application of Sharia law in family arbitration and inheritance cases involving Muslims. Premier Dalton McGuinty declined the idea.
What is to be done? In the first place, says Mansur, Canadians need to ignore the strictures of political correctness and look at immigration realistically. Islamist groups cynically use liberalism’s principles of religious freedom to espouse an anti-liberal agenda that would, if successful, eliminate liberalism’s most sacrosanct concepts.
Canadians also must insist that there is one law for all. Minorities have rights, yes, but so do majorities. “What we need are better definitions of what newcomers can reasonably expect in terms of accommodation,” says Collacott. “We should remain as open and inclusive as possible but at the same time not be reticent about stating clearly how we do things here.”
Last, but not least, the government’s handling of the immigration file requires more critical scrutiny. Immigration Minister Jason Kenney has been holding cross-country “consultations” on the immigration system. Many of those appearing at the meetings are the very individuals and groups that benefit from high immigration levels. What do you think the minister is going to hear?
At a recent meeting in Vancouver, Kenney quite rightly questioned whether Canadians would accept higher immigration levels. Yet, he seemed almost regretful that a lack of resources makes it difficult to bring in even larger numbers of immigrants. And during the federal election earlier this year he positively bragged that Canada had accepted more immigrants in 2010 than in any other year.
The minister has earned kudos for going after war criminals, keeping human-trafficking ships from Canadian shores, and stripping citizenship from immigrants who supposedly lied to get into the country. Worthy gestures, perhaps, but the litmus test of immigration “reform” is in the numbers. Booting a couple thousand illegal immigrants or a couple dozen war criminals out of the country might garner headlines, but that means little if you still allow more than a quarter-million immigrants into the country every year, many without adequate security screening.
“The objective fact is that within the last five years, at the height of the escalating terrorist threat, the government has actually, unbelievably, increased immigration levels from what were already the highest per capita numbers in the world,” says Harris. “Tens of thousands of people have come from jurisdictions that regard a country like Canada as anathema.”
The reality is, say critics, that Canada needs at the very least to curtail immigration from a number of countries. “Wahhabi culture is very predominant in some parts of the Muslim world,” says Muslim author and activist Farzana Hassan, “and those countries would definitely fall under the category (of places) where you would need to restrict immigration.”
“Public safety and social cohesion demand an immediate moratorium on immigration to Canada from Pakistan, Somalia and other radical-Islamist and terrorist-producing countries,” says Raheel Raza, a journalist and activist born in Pakistan.
Canadians, in short, need to recognize that immigration has implications for national security. “A decisive determinant of future Canadian security and reliability (as an ally of the United States) is Canada’s immigration and refugee system,” Harris writes in the latest edition of Diplomat and International Canada. “Few would have realized, when I testified before that pre-9/11 congressional body (in 1999), how vulnerable Canada was becoming to terrorism, radical infiltration and illicit influence.”
In addition to interviews, I have drawn on or consulted academic and non-academic material for this essay, including, among others:
Martin Collacott, “Immigration levels are already too high,” Ottawa Citizen, Aug. 12, 2011; “Creating a common security perimeter,” 2009; “Submission to the Bouchard-Taylor Commission,” 2007; Canada’s Inadequate Response to Terrorism: The Need for Policy Reform, 2006; Terrorism, Refugees, and Homeland Security, 2002.
Herb Grubel and Patrick Grady, Immigration and the Canadian Welfare State, Fraser Institute, 2011
Salim Mansur, Delectable Lie: A Liberal Repudiation of Multiculturalism, 2011; “Immigration’s the Elephant in the Room,” Toronto Sun, April 21, 2011; “Immigration and Muslim Extremists in the post-9/11 World,” in Immigration Policy and The Terrorist Threat in Canada and the United States, Fraser Institute, 2009; “Immigration and Multiculturalism Undermine Culture and Security in Canada,” in The Effects of Mass Migration, Fraser Institute, 2009.
Alexander Moens and Martin Collacott, “Making Canadians Immigration System and Borders More Secure,” Immigration Policy and the Terrorist Threat in Canada and the United States, 2008.
David Harris, “Statement on Immigration Integration, National Security and Public Safety to the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology,” Feb. 3, 2011; “Is Canada Losing the Balance between Liberty and Security,” 2008; “Testimony before the subcommittee on immigration and claims of the United States House of Representatives,” June 2006; “Testimony before the subcommittee on immigration and claims of the United States House of Representatives,” April 1999.