Report calls Canada a haven
[PoliticsWatch Updated 5:25 p.m. February 28, 2006]
Canada's "dysfunctional" refugee system is making the country a haven for terrorists a think tank concluded in a report released Tuesday.
The conservative Fraser Institute released a study that included a survey of media coverage of 25 Islamic terror suspects that entered Canada. That survey found that 16 of them had claimed refugee status.
"Making a refugee claim is used by both terrorists and criminals as a means of rendering their removal from the country more difficult," the study by Martin Collacott, a senior fellow at the Fraser Institute noted.
The study says the problem stems from Canada's clogged refugee system and because Canada "has stretched the definition of who is a refugee well beyond the original intention of the UN documents on which our system is supposed to be based."
This includes Canada being one of the few countries in the world to accept refugee claims from safe countries of origin and being the only country in the world to accept refugee claims from U.S. citizens, including 317 in 2003.
However, the study also states the number of refugee claimants who are terrorists is "very small" and that extremist groups are increasingly trying to recruit terrorists from within Western countries.
The study also blasts the federal government for not taking the issue of terrorism seriously enough.
"Despite extensive evidence concerning the presence of international terrorists in Canada, the federal government's posture has often been to downplay the seriousness of the problems Canada faces in this area," the study said.
Among the criticism is the reluctance for Ottawa to put some groups on a list of banned terrorist
organizations, including the Tamil Tigers, a group the U.S. and U.K. have banned.
"The Liberal party, which left office in early 2006, showed that it was less than enthusiastic about taking a tough stand on terrorism if it thought that this may cost it electoral support," the study said.
While in opposition, the Conservatives, including the foreign
affairs critic Stockwell Day, were critical of the Liberals for not banning the Tigers.
"In Canada the Tamil Tigers raise funds," Day said in the House last March.
"Our allies, many other governments, have made it a matter of their foreign policy to ban the Tamil Tigers … Why will our government not ban this group?"
Day now has a central role in the war on terror as Canada's new public security minister.
But since being sworn in, Day's only terror-related comments has been on the possibility of creating a national ID card for Canadians.
There is suspicion that Day and other candidates were also told to remain silent on the issue during the campaign.
The Canadian Press obtained an internal party e-mail during the final days of the campaign suggesting a party strategy not discuss banning the group in order to help candidates in Toronto-area ridings.
An e-mail by Sandra Buckler, who at the time was in the party's war room but was recently hired as director of communications for the Prime Minister's Office, was sent to party strategists after Peter MacKay had said in an interview the Tories planned to go ahead with the ban.
"(MacKay) said exactly what Stock said about 18 months (ago)," Buckler wrote, "only Peter didn't know that Stock had promised not to talk about the issue during the election - yikes."
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