Canadian immigration policy has to recognize that new immigrants often carry with them the hatreds, prejudices and conflicts plaguing their country of origin.
It must then seek to identify those likely to continue to adhere to such belief systems and likely to act on them in Canada.
Despite the current identification of Islamists as fifth columnists, we only need to look at recent history in Canada to realize that they hold no monopoly on such internal threats -- more than 20 years ago, Sikh fundamentalists used terror to establish their homeland, Khalistan, in India.
The Air India inquiry continues and now confirms that there was advance knowledge of the threat -- revealing a massive failure on the part of Canada's security apparatus to act on that knowledge to prevent the deaths of those innocents.
In addition to Ontario Lt.-Gov. James Bartleman's shocking revelation of receiving (and passing on to the RCMP) a specific threat prior to the fateful day, documents filed at the inquiry show that the Toronto police were called by Air India indicating a sabotage threat for a specific flight; a July 1984 RCMP memo dealt with bomb attacks on Air India flights; and the Indian High Commission warned against security threats to Air India flights. (Note - Bartleman's testimony has been sharply criticized by Pierre Lacompte who testified before the inquiry on Thursday, December 2007. Link here.)
More than two decades ago, CSIS was unable to obtain a warrant to intercept communications on Talwinder Singh Parmar for five months. Parmar was already considered by CSIS to be the "most radical and potentially dangerous Sikh in the country." Parmar toured Canada denouncing the Indian government and spewed his vitriolic opinions at will. Parmar was quoted as telling audiences at Sikh temples that it was time to "unite, fight and kill," and that "50,000 Hindus" should die in retaliation for an Indian army attack on the Golden Temple, the holiest Sikh shrine in India.
Surprisingly, even after the security failure and debacle with respect to Air India, even now CSIS still takes between three and six months to get approval to intercept communications in "national security cases."
The difficulties in bringing justice to those responsible have been well documented in the criminal courts of Canada -- courts that have provided only one conviction (Inderjit Singh Reyat) in connection with the bombing. CSIS has revealed that even now, they face difficulties in expeditiously intercepting communications that are a threat to national security.
Religious fundamentalists like Parmar in Canada, Abu Qatada in the United Kingdom and Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman in the U.S., each presented a unique problem to their respective law enforcement authorities.
Qatada faces deportation to Jordan and Abdel-Rahman is in custody. Parmar was never prosecuted in Canada and died in a police shoot-out in India.
Undoubtedly, there will be others to take their places.
It's clear that preventing individuals who espouse violent beliefs from entering Canada is the best way to safeguard national security. Once here, monitoring of such individuals is vital to preventing another catastrophe such as the doomed Air India flight.
Please note the above article (minus the update in December 2007) was published in the Calgary Herald on May 10, 2007. Link here.