(This column was published in the North Shore News on Sept. 11, 2002)


Complacent Canada hasn't changed

 By Leo Knight

A year after the attacks on America by al- Qaeda terrorists it seems the sense of urgency and support our nation showed our closest neighbour and ally has dissipated.


Moreover, all the promised changes made to protect us by our federal government have been little more than empty promises and cheap political talk.


Immediately after that day of infamy then-foreign minister and now deputy Prime Minister John Manley was the only senior member of the government who showed any leadership skills. In point of fact, Jean Chrétien looked remarkably uncertain and spoke disjointedly. Well, more disjointedly than usual. He looked like anything but a national leader.


Former Immigration Minister Elinor Caplan scolded anyone who dared criticize the blatantly stupid refugee policies which have since been changed to more closely resemble what critics were seeking. Then-revenue and now Justice Minister (oh God, is that scary) Martin Cauchon kept repeating what a great job the tax collectors - sorry customs officers - were doing protecting our borders. It was getting ridiculous every time he opened his mouth.


"How are you today Mr. Minister?" "Let me first ask that you join me in congratulating the fine men and women of Canada Customs for" blah, blah, blah, blah.


But not Manley. The day after the attacks on America he came out strong, saying Canada would join "unambiguously" in standing "shoulder to shoulder" with the United States. "Canada is at war against terrorism," he said. "The world changed in some very real way as a result of those events and that is going to force us to look at all aspects of what we do."


He sounded like the leader the PM should have been. But that was then.


With all the anniversary retrospectives that are saturating the airwaves and newspapers around the world, the Sun media group ran a story on the weekend looking at the changes, or lack of changes in the year since. Former commissioner of the RCMP Norman Inkster was quoted saying the Liberal government of Jean Chrétien has failed to "fight off the natural tendency of big government to move sluggishly."


Inkster, now a senior executive with KPMG, said, "We cannot afford to be complacent."


Unfortunately, complacency is what has replaced the sense of urgency and purpose felt in the weeks immediately following last Sept. 11. Nothing has changed at our airports. Passenger screening ensures you cannot take nail clippers on a plane, but air side (secure area) employees, regardless of ethnicity or background, move around unfettered and unchecked beyond a basic police computer check.


Bear in mind that a new immigrant or refugee has exactly zero information in the country's data bank. Even if we assume they kept their real identity after flushing their papers down the airplane toilet and claiming refugee status, which is highly unlikely.


Back to Inkster. "We still do not have in place the enhanced security promised at airports," he said.


"They created an agency, appointed some senior people, they're collecting the money, but we haven't seen that impact at airports," said the former head of the RCMP.


Inkster summed up the government's efforts brilliantly, "It's hard for me to believe that anyone's going to be fingernail-clipped to death."


What has happened since Manley said we would join "unambiguously" and stand "shoulder to shoulder" with the United States?


Well, we sent a small detachment of infantry to Afghanistan to take part in the first stage of this war. But then we couldn't even muster enough combat-ready troops to replace them when their tour was complete.


Since that point we have being much more ambiguous. The Americans are seeking support in taking the war on terrorism to its next level and we, as their closest ally, might just as well walk up to "Dubya" and stick a finger in his eye.


It is not the fault of the United States that they were attacked by the lunatic fringe of Islam. To try and justify the hijacking and crashing of four airliners on Sept. 11 by saying that somehow American foreign policy was the root cause is akin to saying a woman was raped because she dressed provocatively. It is absurd in the extreme.


Osama's dead - trust me, we'd have had another videotape from that megalomaniac if he weren't - since he got walloped at Tora Bora, the organization which began this war with an unprecedented and unprovoked attack on America, still exists and its tentacles are worldwide. They are here in our country and they won't rest until the West is under fundamentalist Islamic control and the nation state of Israel no longer exists. This is not going away if we all engage in a group hug.


This war, which began on a beautiful sunny day in Manhattan exactly one year ago today, is far from over.


And somehow, despite all the rhetoric, all the tough talking and all the posturing, little has changed in this country. The federal government is dithering while the politicians shoot at each other in a sordid exercise of power grubbing. We are still driven by political correctness and just can't seem to do what is right for fear of offending someone. I can guarantee one thing. There will be a great many people offended if we do not win this war. Whether the politically correct want to admit it or not, our country and our way of life is at stake. That is the reality of our world one year later.


Thus far, we are failing to address that reality.






Primetimecrime current headlines               Columns 2002