February 9, 2017 -
In an editorial published in the National Post, John Ivison discussed the potential consequences of leaked FBI statistics revealing that more known or suspected terrorists are found at the Canadian border than at the Mexican, which were cited in a recent Daily Beast report.
Ivison asserted that the leaked statistics could potentially harm Canada if the Trump administration takes notice, in the midst of their controversial immigration and refugees initiative to strengthen security at the nation’s borders.
President Donald Trump recently signed an executive order on immigration and refugees that also calls on the Department of Homeland Security to expedite development of its biometric entry/exit tracking system.
“Not to say that Mexico isn’t a problem but the real bad guys aren’t coming from there — at least not yet,” said one unidentified senior official with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
The focus of the Trump administration’s campaign is largely on the seven predominantly Muslim countries as well as building a wall on the U.S.’s southern border.
However, Ivison suggests that if Fox News were to make the argument that “Michigan, New York State and Washington State are vulnerable to terrorists wandering over the unguarded border”, Canada could be President Trump’s next target.
Meanwhile, Canada’s public safety minister Ralph Goodale declined to comment on the accuracy of leaked FBI statistics but said he is unaware of any “expressions of angst” stemming from the U.S. government.
Goodale also emphasized that no terrorists have attacked the U.S. after crossing the border from Canada, calling the country “a reliable security partner.”
Still, this week’s story has the potential to spread like brushfire and reinforce perceptions, often erroneous, that Canada is lax on terror.
Ivison pointed to a Fraser Institute study on congressional perceptions which found that U.S. lawmakers rarely considered Canada when drafting legislation, however, when they did they viewed the country as a source of energy and terrorists.
The study found that the U.S. lawmakers made “persistent and repeated” allegations that Canada has more lenient security measures and was the source of some of the 9/11 hijackers.
Goodale and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau signed pre-clearance and entry/exit last in Washington last March, with both measures being presented before the House of Commons where they seem to have an all-party support.
In addition, Stephen Harper’s and Barack Obama’s Beyond the Border agreement included the development of a face-recognition biometric database but remains in only its pilot-project stage.
Prior to Trump being voted into office, border security was not a top priority for the Liberal government. The Canadian government’s spending priorities reveal that the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) will have fewer employees in two years than now.
Meanwhile, spending on border security is projected to decline by nearly $300 million from 2013/14 to 2018/19 as a result of “planned reduction in funding for major initiatives included in the Beyond the Border Action Plan.”
The Canadian government is considering the CBSA’s resource requirements. “There are new demands put on CBSA and with those demands there will need to be budget allocations to make sure they can deliver what we ask them to do,” Goodale said. “They are responsible for keeping the country safe and keeping the border efficient, safe and prosperous. Canadians and our neighbours can be assured of this.”
Ivison ultimately concludes that the Canadian government should increase funding for border security, particularly when considering the impact of President Trump’s aggressive border security initiative.