Feds back Tory call for plan to deal with Canadians who have joined ISIS
Published Monday, October 22, 2018 1:38PM EDT
Last Updated Monday, October 22, 2018 4:26PM EDT
OTTAWA – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says his Liberal caucus will support and vote in favour of a Conservative motion calling on the government to come forward with a plan to deal with any Canadian living here or abroad that has participated in terrorist activity.
Asked about the Tory opposition day motion during question period, Trudeau said he’ll be supporting the proposition because “supporting terrorism is a crime and travelling to support terrorism is a crime.”
The motion calls on the government to not reintegrate terrorists into Canadian society and to table a plan to "bring to justice anyone who has fought as an ISIS terrorist or participated in any terrorist activity, including those who are in Canada or have Canadian citizenship,” within 45 days of the motion passing.
MPs will continue debating the issue all afternoon, and the vote is scheduled for Tuesday.
Trudeau said he has full confidence in Canadian police and intelligence services to ensure these people face the consequences.
Responding to Trudeau, Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer questioned whether the support would result in “actual measures” being taken. Scheer said the Liberals have voted in favour of past Conservative motions, but have done “absolutely nothing to take action afterwards,” adding that Trudeau has had years to make sure that Canadians who took part in terrorist activities face justice.
The full text of the motion invokes the words of Nadia Murad, who recently won the Nobel Peace Prize for her work to raise awareness of sexual violence as weapons of war. Murad escaped torture and rape by ISIS militants in Iraq in 2014.
"I dream about one day bringing all the militants to justice… all the guards and slave owners, every man who pulled a trigger and pushed my brothers' bodies into their mass grave, every fighter who tried to brainwash young boys into hating their mothers for being Yazidi, every Iraqi who welcomed the terrorists into their cities and helped them, thinking to themselves," the motion reads, quoting from Murad's book The Last Girl: My Story of Captivity, and My Fight Against the Islamic State.
Discussing the motion in the House of Commons foyer, Conservative MP and immigration, refugees, and citizenship critic Michelle Rempel said Canadians who have travelled abroad to join terrorist organizations like ISIS, need to be brought to justice and that there’s more the government could do to close what she called an "intelligence to evidentiary gap."
As of 2017, the government reported that there were around 190 extremists "with a nexus to Canada" who travelled overseas and are suspected of engaging in terrorist activity, as well as another 60 who have returned to Canada.
"To me step number one is first the acknowledgement of that problem… then working with our intelligence, our security agencies and saying 'what do we need to do in terms of legislative tools to overcome that, while respecting Canadians' privacies and rights, and then adapt and table legislation, or table process or resources to do that. It’s just that step number one, having the government acknowledge that change needs to happen," Rempel said.
Rempel said the government should do what it can to make sure courts have access to evidence collected about suspected terrorists; and give Canadian security agencies the proper resources to intensely surveil those who have returned to Canada, or put these suspects under peace bonds.
"The Liberals have had three years to take actions in this regard and have failed to do so," she said.
Speaking to the motion in the House of Commons, Karen McCrimmon, parliamentary secretary for public safety, said Canada is only dealing with "relatively small numbers” of these suspects who may be trying to reenter this country, and that Canadian intelligence and security officials are already well-equipped to address this threat.
McCrimmon said when possible, arresting and prosecuting these people is Canada’s desired outcome, though it depends on having enough evidence to do so. In the last few years the RCMP has charged four people with terrorism-related offences upon their return to Canada, two of which have been convicted while the other two cases remain before the courts.
"Finding evidence related to actions taken in a war zone on the other side of the world is very difficult work," McCrimmon said.
NDP MP and public safety critic Matt Dube said he agrees with the Conservative call for more to be done to put these criminals behind bars, but cautioned that Canadians' civil liberties need to be protected.