Canadians "may underestimate security threat"

Canadians are "naive" about threats to Canada. Pictured here, the robot threat to Denver.

The Harper government is worried about Canadian opposition to its plans to more closely integrate Canadian and U.S. border security efforts (Steven Chase, “Ottawa crafts plan to ward off criticism over U.S. border deal,” Globe and Mail, 10 December 2010).

As the Globe and Mail reports, the Department of Public Safety’s communications strategy for the plan states that “The Canadian public may underestimate the security threat to Canada”:

The strategy predicts that Canadians may fail to see the need for a perimeter security deal to help safeguard cross-border trade through efforts such as a joint cargo screening initiative. …

Former CSIS director Jim Judd made similar comments to a U.S. State Department official in 2008, according to diplomatic cables disclosed last week by WikiLeaks. The ex-spy chief complained about public naiveté about the extent of the terrorism threat this country faces.

Here’s a recent example of how a country that takes the terrorist threat seriously acts. Here’s another one.

And here’s another one.

Maybe panic, paranoia, and intelligence and security powers unfettered by the rule of law (such as the super-secret, imaginary police powers recently on display in Toronto) are what Canadians need to protect our society.

Or maybe the Canadian public is right not to be scared stupid by tiny robot figurines and the like.

Robot toys are not the whole story of course. There is a real possibility of real terrorist attacks in Canada, as anybody who cared to think about these issues knew long before 2001. Remember the Air India attack in 1985? The attacks on Turkish diplomats in Ottawa in 1982-1985? The FLQ bombings and murder of Pierre Laporte from 1963 to 1970?

But our history of dealing with terrorism, although it may demonstrate an occasional need for greater competence on the part of the security authorities, has not demonstrated a need for continuously expanding policing and security powers. If anything, it has demonstrated the danger of over-reacting to the threat of terrorist attacks.

The Harper government, for its part, has its own security blindspots. The government pays lip service to the threat posed to Canadians, and the entire global community, of climate change. But as the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development reported earlier this week, the government still has no strategy to deal with the increasing effects of climate change (Heather Scoffield, “Ottawa lacks info to combat climate change: watchdog,” Toronto Star, 7 December 2010).

And its strategy for preventing further climate change seems to be to do little or nothing for as long as possible. …And, of course, let NATO deal with the consequences when the world falls apart.

Maybe the Canadian public is the group with its security priorities straight.

Photo by RJ Sangosti, Denver Post

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4 Responses to “Canadians "may underestimate security threat"”

  1. PaulDecember 12, 2010 at 8:45 pm #

    There’s no such thing as friendship in the world of diplomacy.

    Only exploitation of “useful idiots”.

    Harper and his cabal are leading us all down a very dangerous path.

  2. CarolineDecember 11, 2010 at 2:31 pm #

    Paranoia is catching it seems, at least by Harper and his minions, but I don’t want to catch the bug. We already see the results in the imprisonment (house arrest) of Harkat. He has been confined on a so-called “security” certificate without trial or the ability to answer the allegations that are made against him. When I see this kind of action on the part of our government I begin to fear for my own rights. Once a government feels that it is OK to treat one person in that manner then it is a very small step to treating anyone they chose in that manner and just labelling it “national security”.

  3. Jacob RempelDecember 11, 2010 at 2:18 pm #

    Yes. many thousands of persons far away and near are angry with the US regiome and with Canada for joining in the violent attacks on their homelands,–their resources, their cities, their millions of men, women and children. Some of them, relatively few, have acted on their anger by doing violnt localized attacks, and it’s possible that it will happen again, perhaps more violent.

    Their anger would dissipate if we separated from the massive US military regime and corporate attacks against them, and if we directed our national efforts toward real assistance to recover from their devastation.

    Part of this would be fair trade and whatever help they genuinely needed to join all nations in environmentally sustainable industry.

    Another helpful initiative can be the establishment of a Department of Peace to develop creative initiatives promoting good relationships among all nations.

    —Jacob Rempel, Vancouver,

  4. Vera GottliebDecember 11, 2010 at 11:08 am #

    Yea sure…first we get the US fear mongering and now we get Canada doing the same. Monkey see, monkey do, eh? How many more WikiLeaks have to happen before people get their eyes opened? Do any business with the US and you’ll end up the loser.