Canadian immigrants must leave their cultural grievances at home

As Tony Blair put it, newcomers have a duty to share and support our way of life

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by L. IAN MacDONALD
The Gazette, Tuedsay, June 6, 2006

Security and intelligence officials have long been concerned about the threat of home-grown terror, as well as the likelihood of explosive devices being built from information found on the Internet.

So here we have a home-grown cell of 17 terror suspects, all but two still in their teens and early to mid-20s, and five not even of age. Most appear to be Canadian citizens and the younger ones were probably born in this country. And then, three tonnes of ammonium nitrate is quite a bit of fertilizer for a backyard is Mississauga. Actually, it's enough to blow up the CN Tower or the Peace Tower.

Of course, they seemed like normal kids, probably long-suffering Leafs fans, like everyone else in the suburbs of Toronto. Someone must have brainwashed them into becoming part of a terror plot.

The likely ringleader among the suspects is the 43-year-old Qayam Abdul Jamal, who apparently opposes Canada's mission in Afghanistan and condemns the Muslim community for shunning the Khadrs, Canada's first family of terror. Jamal helped run the Al-Rahman Islamic Centre in Mississauga, frequented by some of the younger suspects.

It might well turn out that some or even all of them are innocent, caught up in a bungled police operation, one in which, unfortunately, every single one of the suspects happens to be Muslim.

More likely, this intelligence and police operation is a major success, one in which a terror network was penetrated and taken down before it could do any harm. The division of labour is that CSIS does intelligence evaluations while the RCMP and local authorities run the raids. In this instance, they appear to have worked well together and a worst case scenario has apparently been averted.

The raid was the lead story in Sunday's New York Times and Washington Post and led to U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on the Sunday talk shows praising Canada for being "on the job" in the war on terror.

Aha! Bush administration hails Canada, validating terrorists' agenda.

It remains to be seen whether Canadians will see these arrests as a wake-up call. For those who oppose our participation in "the so-called war on terror," as a CTV Newsnet anchor termed it on the weekend, terror is a consequence of our own policies rather than terrorist activities. You can always count on the moral-equivalency crowd for twisted logic.

But there are certain political consequences in both domestic and foreign policy. First, every assurance needs to be given, and at the highest level, that the broader Muslim community is not being targeted or under surveillance. The Toronto police chief already reached out on Sunday to have a town meeting with local Muslim leaders. But the unalterable fact remains that all 17 suspects are members of that community and someone is preaching radical chic.

And leaving aside the understandable sensibilities of that community, the prime minister and cabinet have the higher constitutional duty to provide "peace,order and good government."

Second, the terror bust raises serious new questions, at least on the American side, about their porous northern border. These questions have been out there since the events of 9/11, even though not one of the Sept. 11 hijackers carried a Canadian passport or even entered the U.S. through Canada.

The police raid occurs in the middle of a serious conversation between Canada and the United States over whether passports or some secure identity document will be required for entering the U.S. from Canada by the end of next year (and even for U.S. citizens returning from Canada).

And third, there is the issue of Canada's immigration laws, and whether as a multicultural society we make it too easy for the wrong types of people to come here. And how, in any event, would we weed them out? Are you planning on becoming a jihadist when you get to Canada?

But perhaps we need to have another kind of conversation along the following lines: We welcome you to this multicultural country. We offer you freedom and economic opportunity in one of the world's most open and diverse societies. We offer you the protection of our constitution and our Charter of Rights.

All we ask in return is that if you have a cultural grievance, you leave it over there, and begin anew here. And we're rather insistent that you not take it out on your fellow citizens of your adopted land. That's rather a condition of citizenship.

Or as Tony Blair put it following the London bombings last year: "Coming to Britain is not a right, and when people come here, staying here carries with it a duty. That duty is to share and support the values of the British way of life. Those that break that duty and try to incite hatred or engage in violence against our country and its people have no place here."

 
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