My Apologies for our Idiot in Chief

By: Rachel Marsden

As a Canadian citizen, I would like to offer my sincere apologies to the American people for the recent remarks made by the ignoramus running the show up here. A collective cringe rippled through the Great Not-So-White North when Prime Minister Jean Chrétien mused aloud to a reporter in Spain last week that Canada may offer sanctuary to thirteen Palestinian terrorists who had been involved in the standoff at the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. It's no wonder an Ipsos-Reid poll finds that more than three-quarters of Americans believe potential terrorists have slipped into the US through Canada. Our Prime Minister's PR tactics aren't exactly helping the situation.

Let me reassure our dear American friends and neighbors that the thoughtless remarks and views of our leader do not represent the sentiments of the majority of Canadians--not by a long shot. Chrétien came to power in the last federal election with only 25% of eligible voter support. To make matters worse, our Embarrassment in Chief is headed for a third term in office because opposition to his government is so badly fractured--making Canada, in effect, a one-party state.

How could granting asylum to card-carrying terrorists possibly be of benefit to Canada or the USA? It's bad enough that they're terrorizing Israel; the last thing we need is for them to be running around over here, right next door to the USA--Israel's best friend and ally. In attempting to make himself out to be a proponent of peace by offering to take the terrorists away from the thriving Jewish community where they professionally practice their craft, Chrétien has risked perpetuating the unfortunate and already pervasive notion of Canada as a terrorist haven.

Perhaps Chrétien didn't catch the recent CBS "60 Minutes" episode that portrayed Canada as an easy place for terrorists to hang out and collect welfare while they plot attacks against the USA. The Canadian Security Intelligence Service--or CSIS--says it is investigating about 50 terrorist organizations and 350 individual terrorists operating in Canada. A 1999 report by CSIS Director Ward Alcock found that Canada's immigration system is vulnerable to exploitation and abuse because it is so open and accessible. The report, entitled "Exploitation of Canada’s Immigration System: An Overview of Security Intelligence Concerns", found that "in most cases, [terrorists] appear to use Canadian residence as a safe haven, a means to raise funds, to plan or support overseas activities or as a way to obtain Canadian travel documents which make global travel easier -- or they combine any or all of these activities".

The main problem is that Canada makes it far too easy for refugees to claim asylum. Anyone can simply show up at the Canadian border with or without documentation and request refugee status, which is granted even in the flimsiest of cases. The person will then be allowed into the country to bum around, collect welfare, and plot the mass destruction of the Western World until such time as a refugee hearing rolls around a year or more later. By then, the person may have disappeared underground or--like convicted "Millenium Bomber", Ahmed Rassam--attempted to cross into the USA with the intent of carrying out a mission of mass destruction.

With a system like this in place, I would like to see Washington grab Chrétien by the scruff of the neck (much like Chrétien did to an anti-poverty protester a few years ago) and give him no choice but to change Canada's terrorist-friendly immigration policy--as a matter of national security. Former CSIS Chief of Strategic Planning, David Harris, claims the Canadian government is making a tidy political profit by stuffing our country full of immigrants and refugees. Maybe in Chrétien's warped view, every terrorist who comes into Canada under the Liberal government's lax immigration policy is just another vote for the Liberal Party. Meanwhile, the US Immigration and Naturalization service is proposing provisions that could restrict tourists--Canadians included--to a maximum 30 day stay, down from the current six month limit.

A more institutionalized, deeply integrated North American community must become a reality soon, for the sake of national security in both Canada and the USA. Canadians are constantly whining about how such a move would jeopardize Canadian sovereignty and our national identity, but the reality is that most Canadians are simply fooling themselves. They're in denial of the fact that the differences between Canadians and Americans are negligible. And these differences certainly don't outweigh the importance of ensuring security and economic viability within the two countries.

Canada's immigration policies must change drastically. Anyone who can afford a $2,000 plane ticket to Canada but who somehow can't afford to go through the proper immigration channels should not be allowed into the country, period. If you happen to arrive in Canada without your documentation because you ditched it on the ride over, the airline that brought you to Canada should be legally mandated to take you right back to wherever it is you came from. And it should be held 100% responsible for you until such time as you're deported.

As a Canadian citizen, I want to be able to travel and work freely throughout the USA without having to wade through miles of red tape imposed by the INS as a result of my government's immigration policy. I would like to eventually see a completely unguarded Canada-US border, an EU-style common currency, and the completely free exchange of goods and services between the two countries. According to an Ipsos-Reid poll, 30% of Americans already think of Canada as just another state anyway, so why not? And, finally, I would like to see Canada and the USA (along with Mexico) set up a security perimeter to guard against attacks from abroad--thereby making the concept of "Fortress North America" a reality. But nothing of the sort is going to happen as long as the roof is off the "fortress" and our Prime Minister is indirectly supporting terrorist activity by making it so easy for terrorists to set up camp on our turf.