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Terrorism and Canadian Mobility
Trends in Canadian Immigration and the CDN-US
Border After Sept 11th
By Jay Makarenko
October 1st, 2002
It would not be an overstatement to assert that the recent terrorist
bombings in the United States were watershed events. Not only did the
death and destruction touch all of our lives on an emotional level, the
events of September 11, 2001 will mark changes to the political and social
lives of Canadians.
One area that is already beginning to feel the fallout of the terrorist
bombings is Canadian mobility: that is, the movement, migration and immigration
of persons into and out of Canada. Two components of Canadian mobility
in particular are under immediate pressure: (1) Canadian immigration and
(2) movement through the Canada-United States border.
Terrorism in Canada
In its response to the recent bombings, the United States has declared
war on terrorism, with Canada poised to rally behind its neighbour. This
war on terrorism will not be limited to simply those involved in the bombings.
Instead, it will involve action against “terrorism” in general. In assessing
trends in Canadian mobility, it thus becomes necessary to understand terrorism
in Canada. The nature and scope of terrorism in this country will heavily
influence Canadian and American policy in regards to immigration and the
Incidents of terrorist violence on Canadian soil are relatively uncommon,
especially in regards to international groups. However, over the last
thirty years, Canada has experienced some violent acts. These include
domestic separatist violence in Quebec and ethnic, national and religious
violence between groups represented in Canada. On April 5 1995, the Iranian
Air Force conducted a bombing raid on a Mujahedin e-Kalg (MEK) base in
Iraq. Subsequently, forty MEK supporters, armed with crowbars and mallets,
attacked the Iranian embassy in Ottawa and wounded several persons. On
February 15 1999, the leader of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), Abdullah
Ocalan, was arrested in Kenya. Subsequently, PKK supporters rioted in
Montreal and Ottawa, seriously wounding several police officers.
While violent terrorist acts on Canadian soil are relatively uncommon,
there has been a rising trend in terrorist support activities in Canada.
As the 1999 Special Senate Committee on Security and Intelligence (the
Kelly Committee) stated, Canada is “primarily a venue of opportunity to
support, plan or mount attacks elsewhere and as a conduit to the United
States.” CSIS has identified several specific support activities of international
terrorists in Canada. Some of these include:
- The planning and logistical support of terrorist operations in Canada
- Fraudulent use of travel documentation and illegal entry into Canada.
- Procuring weapons and materials for terrorist operations.
- Recruiting members and supporters.
- Manipulating members of émigré communities in Canada.
- Providing safe haven.
- The use of Canada as a staging ground for terrorist acts abroad, in
particular, the United Sates.
In sum, while violent terrorist acts do not commonly occur on Canadian
soil, this country has experienced a rise in terrorist support activities.
Terrorist organizations actively engage in recruitment and fundraising
in this country. Furthermore, they use Canada as conduit and staging area
into the United States. With the new war on terrorism, this situation
will have a major influence upon trends in Canadian immigration and the
Canada-United States border.