TORONTO, June 29 /CNW/ - Canadian governments of all stripes have failed
to comprehend the link between immigration policy and security, attendees at
The Fraser Institute's first conference on immigration, border controls and
terrorism heard Thursday in Toronto.
"Our political leaders just don't buy into it. That's why Canadians are
so ambivalent about border security. Our political leaders don't take it
seriously," said James Bissett, former executive director of the Canadian
Immigration Service and a former Canadian ambassador in Europe and the
Speaking as part of a panel discussing security concerns in immigration
and refugee policies, Bissett said all of Canada's major political parties
have come to view immigration purely as a numbers game where the aim is to
increase the number of immigrants because they are potential voters.
"With the advent and institutionalization of multiculturalism in the
1970s, it quickly became evident to politicians that they could use taxpayers'
money to bribe the immigrant communities for votes by sponsoring various
festivals and immigrant cultural organizations," he said.
"This revolutionized Canadian politics because now Canadian political
leaders felt they could maneuver and get block voting from the ethnic
The result, he added, is that most immigrants now coming to Canada do so
within the family class and very few have the skills the country needs,
regardless of the economic conditions.
Mark Krikorian, executive director of Washington DC's Centre for
Immigration Studies, told the conference that current levels of mass
immigration are incompatible with the goals and characteristics of modern
He suggested that due to modern technology, the idea of a "home front"
during a war is no longer just a metaphor, and it's very likely many countries
would try to exploit the US's huge immigrant population in the event of a
"That's the brass ring for terrorists - mass civilian casualties in the
homeland of the enemy."
Despite the ramped-up security measures implemented by the US in the wake
of 9/11, the American government does not have the resources to check and
screen all immigrants.
Krikorian said there's a backlog of 100,000 would-be immigrants waiting
for fingerprint checks; a backlog of 300,000 waiting for name checks; and the
US government estimates that 20 - 30 per cent of all immigrant applications
Bissett also hit out at Canada's failure to properly screen new
immigrants, particularly those claiming asylum. Only 10 per cent of all
immigrants are screened for security issues and virtually no one claiming
asylum is screened for health, security or criminality, he said, adding that
while refugees are determined by a United Nations definition, anyone who sets
foot on Canadian soil can claim to be a refugee simply by suggesting they fear
persecution in their home land.
"Very few people claiming refugee status are ever detained. Since 9/11,
they have been photographed and fingerprinted. But then they're released and
there's no tracking system. We often don't know who they are or where they
As an example, he referred to the case of convicted terrorist Ahmad
Ressam, who before being caught in a plot to blow up Los Angeles International
Airport, was a failed refugee claimant living in Montreal who was able to
travel to Afghanistan to receive training at a terrorist camp on how to build
He estimated there's anywhere from 50,000 to 60,000 people with failed
refugee claims still living in Canada. These people have been ordered to leave
but the government has taken no action because it has no idea where they are.
"We can't keep anybody out and we can't kick out the bad guys," he said.
The Fraser Institute is an independent research and educational
organization based in Canada. Its mission is to measure, study, and
communicate the impact of competitive markets and government intervention on
the welfare of individuals. To protect the Institute's independence, it does
not accept grants from governments or contracts for research. Visit
For further information:
For further information: Dean Pelkey, Associate Director of
Communications, The Fraser Institute, Tel: (604) 714-4582, Email