Making immigration and national security compatible is possible but requires courage and commitment
OTTAWA, December 18, 2012 – Canada must improve its intelligence gathering and sharing so that individuals who pose a security risk to Canada are identified before they arrive at our borders, according to the Macdonald-Laurier Institute's (MLI) latest Straight Talk. In a hard-hitting interview released today, security expert Scott Newark examines Canada's immigration needs and the security concerns involved in maintaining high levels of immigration.
In the interview, Mr. Newark points out that the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act stipulates that you're not admissible as an immigrant if you've engaged in terrorism or pose a danger to security in Canada.
"But the challenge we need to face when it comes to immigration and national security goes far beyond someone showing up with the equivalent of an Al-Qaeda membership card or a proven history of association with that kind of group," he said.
"We need to think hard about what I would call 'Islamism', the political Islam that has absolutely no interest whatsoever in integration; that is intolerant and unyielding and absolutely committed to eradicating Western values."
As with the perimeter agreement with the United States, it makes sense to confront a problem before it arrives at the border, Mr. Newark said.
"It's important to do a better job through intelligence-led screening of exactly who it is that seeks to enter our country because, to be blunt, it is inordinately difficult to remove someone after they are here."
That was one of the biggest lessons of the Sun Sea human smuggling incident, Mr. Newark said.
He said two points need to be made. First, we need to use all our resources and that includes the Canada Border Services Agency. Second, intelligence-led enforcement is the key.
"We're in difficult financial times, but cutting the intelligence capacity of groups like the RCMP and CBSA will undermine our entire effort, so that's something to watch out for."
Security threats are also changing, from physical actions, such as planting bombs, to threats to Canadian cultural beliefs, Mr. Newark said. The solution is to revise the law "both to deny entry and to revoke acquired citizenship for persons who are actively promoting the eradication of our culture, even if it's cloaked as 'religion'".
Mr. Newark also said Canada needs to do a better job of sharing defined information on both crime and terrorism with other international partners and to promote the use of international UN-sanctioned refugee centres for processing refugee claims abroad.
Today's Straight Talk interview is the first in a series of six on different themes related to immigration and national security that will be released over the next few months.
Scott Newark's 30-year criminal justice career began as an Alberta Crown Prosecutor, with subsequent roles as Executive Officer of the Canadian Police Association, Vice Chair and Special Counsel for the Ontario Office for Victims of Crime, and as a security and policy advisor to both the Ontario and federal Ministers of Public Safety.
The Macdonald-Laurier Institute is an independent non-partisan Ottawa-based national think tank devoted to the development of Canadian public policy.
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