(This column was published in the North Shore News on Oct. 10, 2001)


PM wakes up to reality of troubled world

By Leo Knight

"Shortly before noon today, I confirmed to President Bush in a telephone conversation that we will provide the military support requested," - Prime Minister Jean Chretien.


AND so it begins.


No matter whether you back the NATO actions against Afghanistan or don't wholeheartedly support the war effort, it has started.


We have seen a decided lack of leadership in this country since Sept. 11, so I was heartened on Sunday to see the Prime Minister looking much more statesmanlike in his address to the nation following the U.S.-led missile attacks on the Al Queda and Taliban installations. Albeit, it was somewhat belated considering U.S. President George W. Bush called him on Friday to request the support and the PM, true to form, dithered for two days.


This is a time of great uncertainty. The RCMP has begun Project Shock to, among other things, follow up on literally thousands of tips coming in from all over. Hundreds have been received in North Vancouver alone. Personnel have been seconded to the project from detachments all over the province.


On Sunday the FBI issued instructions to all American law enforcement to go to a heightened state of alert. In New York, the city went to "Def Con Omega," the highest state of alert. An order, I might add, that has never before been issued even at the height of the Cold War.


Much of the blame for all this must be shouldered by the Chretien government. Understand this: In December 1999, CSIS forwarded a report to the federal government entitled "Trends in Terrorism." In that document, CSIS stated that at least 50 of the world's terrorist groups have a presence in Canada and use this country as a base to raise funds and plan their terrorist attacks on other countries including the USA.


The report said the terrorists operate freely here. They arrive, mostly, as refugee claimants who are inevitably released from custody, free to roam around and plan their terror.


Said the report, "They are united in their commitment to use serious violence to effect political change.


"They are willing to attack soft targets anywhere in the world." But the government of Jean Chretien ignored the warning.


There are over 27,000 failed refugee claimants who have gone missing in Canada over the past five years. Worse yet, there are an additional 50,000 refugee claimants whose cases have yet to be decided, that the government hasn't got a clue where they might currently be.


Immigration Minister Elinor Caplan has been chanting that her new Bill C-11 will cure all the ails of the current system. Considering the bill was tabled long before Sept. 11, one wonders what the hell she is talking about.


Consider the comments of Toronto Police Chief Julian Fantino on the weekend, "It's fine and dandy to embrace everyone from around the world, but there needs to be a process where the integrity is maintained.


"We've got tens of thousands of people here with no other status than being illegal," he continued.


"How can we be comfortable here," Fantino asked. "We turn them loose, they go underground. Who knows who they are and where they go? This whole business of refugee status is, in many respects, a joke," the chief concluded.


In the politically correct world of a police chief those comments are remarkable indeed.


So it was good on Sunday to finally hear the Prime Minister get his head out of the ether and make a commitment to do something to help. Although, in looking at another of his government's failures, the state of our military, what exactly we can do to assist the other NATO nations is symbolic at best.


It's too late to undo the damage done by a government asleep at the switch.


Our military, national intelligence agency and the national police force have all been strangled for all the years of this government who chose to give much-needed dollars to a litany of party hacks and dubious socialist causes.


Perhaps the Prime Minister's words on Sunday finally indicated enlightenment to the reality of the world we live in today.


I'm hopeful, but I'm not holding my breath.







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