Flint stabbing 'not a failure in border security,' Goodale says
Published Sunday, June 25, 2017 7:00AM EDT
OTTAWA -- Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale says he's been assured by his U.S. counterpart that American officials are confident in Canadian border security and won't take steps to make it harder to cross from one country to the other.
An attack -- allegedly by a Canadian -- on a police officer at an airport in Flint, MI last week raised concerns the U.S. could implement new measures at the border, which would slow down traffic and trade across it, or thicken it.
But Goodale says he has been in close touch with Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, who wasn't thinking about such measures.
"Just as the incident was unfolding, I had the opportunity to talk to Secretary Kelly just to make sure that our cross-border co-operation was full and complete," he said in an interview with Evan Solomon, host of CTV's Question Period.
"He made it very clear that he had great confidence in the border operations on the Canadian side, just as we can have confidence in the operations on their side. And that the notion of thickening of the border was just not a part of their consideration."
Amor Ftouhi, the Montreal man who has been arrested in the attack and charged with committing violence at an airport, crossed the border on June 16 and arrived in Michigan by June 18. American officials say more charges are coming.
The police officer survived a 30 centimetre gash to his neck and is recovering well, the Associated Press reported Friday.
'Not a failure in border security'
Goodale says lone wolf attackers are the hardest to protect against because they're unpredictable and usually don't leave a network or tracks behind them. Preceding the Flint airport attack, there was no defect in operations on either the Canadian or American side, he said.
"This was a character who was doing something for whatever purpose -- we'll investigate that and find out what the facts are -- but it was not a failure in border security," Goodale said.
Ftouhi wasn't on the radar of either country, he added.
Goodale says the challenge is to keep the border secure, while allowing for "legitimate travel and trade." About 400,000 people cross the Canada-U.S. border every day.
Representatives from Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States will be meeting in Ottawa on Monday and Tuesday, Goodale and Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould's offices said Friday. Along with Canada, the countries are known as the Five Eyes, and share intelligence with each other.
Kelly and U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions will be among the officials at the meetings, where they'll discuss global risks, counter-radicalization, terrorism and cyberattack risks, Goodale said.
"There are cyber threats that affect all of the five-eyes countries from a variety of different sources. They can be government sources, they can be military sources. It can be Russia, it can be China, it can be Iran, it can be a whole variety," he said.
Democratic Institutions Minister Karina Gould recently tabled legislation she says will help protect against the threat of cyberattacks on Canadian elections, but wouldn't cite any specific countries that could be a threat.
Goodale says the government is alert to the threat Russia could pose to a Canadian election -- as well as to the country's infrastructure.
"The risk is significant so we want to make sure that we have the cyber legal and constiutional framework, and the operational capacity to deal with that, to keep Canadian systems safe. Obviously the systems that go to our democratic way of life, but also our banking system, our telecommunication system, our hydroelectric and energy systems," he said.