News Agencies – September 7, 2011
Stephen Harper is using the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks for political gain, the opposition says. To the NDP (New Democratic Party), the Prime Minister is sowing division on the eve of the 10th anniversary. And to the Liberals, Mr. Harper is trying to look tough by musing about changing the anti-terrorism laws.
The Prime Minister also vowed to bring back two controversial clauses in the Antiterrorism Act, parts of which expired in 2007. One clause allowed police to arrest suspects without a warrant and hold them for three days without charges if they believed a terrorist act had been committed; the other clause allowed a judge to compel a witness to testify in secret under penalty of jail if the witness refused. The act was passed in 2001 in reaction to the terrorist strikes on New York and Washington, but the controversial clauses expired in 2007.
CBC News – September 6, 2011
Prime Minister Stephen Harper has said the biggest security threat to Canada a decade after 9/11 is Islamic terrorism. Harper added that Canada is safer than it was on Sept. 11, 2001, when al-Qaeda attacked the U.S., but that “the major threat is still Islamicism.”
The prime minister said home-grown Islamic radicals in Canada are “also something that we keep an eye on.” Harper said his government will bring back anti-terrorism clauses that were brought in in 2001 but were sunset in 2007 amid heated political debate. “We think those measures are necessary. We think they’ve been useful,” he said. “And as you know … they’re applied rarely, but there are times where they’re needed.”
The Toronto Star – June 26, 2011
Mubin Shaikh, a police insider who infiltrated a group plotting in 2006 to blow up Toronto’s downtown, along with Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, a 37-year-old Somalia-born Canadian who has experienced the frontlines of Mogadishu’s relentless war and Kamran Bokhari, a Pakistan-born, U.S.-raised and -educated analyst with an American private sector intelligence firm, attended the Summit Against Violent Extremism (SAVE) in Dublin, Ireland.
Co-sponsored by the Council of Foreign Relations and the Tribeca Film Festival, the summit has been designed to probe why young people turn to violent extremism.
90 “formers” — past members of violent groups ranging from neo-Nazis to Islamic extremists to Latin American street gangs — will come together with a hodgepodge of academics and analysts from around the world. They will join the “survivors” — victims of violence or terrorist attacks.
Bokhari believes there is general reluctance in Canada, both within Muslim communities and at the federal government level, to talk openly about the problem. Shaikh’s grievances have been more public. After the Toronto 18 case, he says, he wasn’t prepared for the backlash from many Muslims who regarded him as a traitor.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper recently announced a new, five-year program to combat terrorism while commemorating the 26th anniversary of the Air India bombing. The $10-million initiative will focus on anti-terrorism research and conferences, a press release stated.
The Toronto Star – September 8, 2010
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper referred to his Christian faith to “unequivocally condemn” a Florida church that plans to burn 200 copies of the Qur’an. “I don’t speak very often about my own religion but let me be very clear: My God and my Christ is a tolerant God, and that’s what we want to see in this world,” he said.
Harper was adding his voice to the global outcry against a Florida preacher who plans to burn copies of the Qur’an in a bonfire Saturday to mark the ninth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks. Rev. Terry Jones has since rescinded his protest. Defence Minister Peter MacKay added, “This initiative is insulting to Muslims and Canadians of all faiths who understand that freedom of thought and freedom of religion are fundamental to our way of living.”
The Canadian federal minister for the status of women, Rona Ambrose, went to an immigrant health centre to issue a warning that honor killings and other violence against women will not be tolerated in Canada. “There is a small minority in some communities who use violence against women as a method of avenging their so-called honor,” Ambrose said at the Punjabi Community Health Services in Mississauga, west of Toronto, which is home to many immigrants from South Asia.
The Conservatives have spent much time and capital courting the South Asian communities and Prime Minister Stephen Harper last week appointed a Pakistani immigrant who was a Tory candidate in the 2008 election to the Senate. With the death of Aqsa Parvez in 2007, Mississauga was the location of one of the most shocking cases of so-called honor killing in recent Canadian history.
The federal government has turned down the proposal of a Toronto-based Islamic organization to introduce legislation prohibiting Canadian female individuals from wearing niqabs and burqas.
The Muslim Canadian Congress had called upon the Stephen Harper’s Conservative government to ban the wearing of niqabs and burqas in all public dealings by introducing new laws.
Studying all the aspects, the Conservative government last week refused to consider the proposal, contending “in Canada people are free to make their own decisions”. “In an open and democratic society like Canada, individuals are free to make their own decisions regarding their personal apparel and to adhere to their own customs or traditions of their faith or beliefs,” said a statement issued by the office of Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
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The Canadian federal government has quietly dropped the idea of forcing veiled women to show their faces if they want to vote in Canadian elections. The loss of interest comes just as the issue of face coverings is heating up overseas, with President Nicolas Sarkozy declaring that the Islamic burka is “not welcome” in France. Steven Fletcher, Canada’s Minister of State for Democratic Reform, confirmed Thursday that the government has no plan to proceed with legislation requiring voters to uncover their faces. A spokesperson for Prime Minister Stephen Harper said the minority government still supports the idea of forcing voters to reveal their faces, but won’t move forward as all three opposition parties have signalled they wouldn’t support legislation.
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced that Shah Kari al-Hussayni – the 49th Aga Khan – will receive the rare award of honorary Canadian citizenship to recognize his efforts in working toward that goal. He founded the Aga Khan Development Network, an organization that has brought better health care, education and urban and rural development to impoverished communities in Asia and Africa. Khan joins an elite group of four others who have also been given honorary citizenship. “[He is] a beacon of humanitarianism, of pluralism and of tolerance throughout the entire world,” Mr. Harper told the House of Commons.
In 2005, Khan was named an honorary companion to the Order of Canada. He was also given an honorary doctor of law degree by the University of Alberta.
J.L. Granatstein of the National Post daily newspaper bemoans the lack of discussion on public policy – particularly related to international relationships and the country’s stringent anti-terrorism laws – by leaders in the recent Canadian elections. Granatstein claims that compared to American presidential candidates, Canadian candidates said little about their genuine plans on these issues, and others like militant Islam or the Tamil Tigers. Stephen Harper, leader of the Conservative Party of Canada, became Prime Minister of a minority government on October 14, 2008.
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According to police wiretaps played in court near Toronto on Wednesday, members of an alleged Canadian terrorist cell believed a then-teenager would be the best candidate to behead the Canadian Prime Minister because of his wood-chopping skills. On the same tape, the young man and one of his co-accused discuss the global fight to get rid of the oppressors, even if on Western soil. You harm one Muslim and the whole Muslim [nation] has to defend that person, he said. The now twenty year-old is one of 18 suspects arrested in 2006 as part of an alleged terrorist scenario, which included taking hostages from the parliament in Ottawa, setting off bombs in Toronto and Ottawa and beheading Prime Minister Stephen Harper if demands for the release of prisoners in Afghanistan were not met. The conversations were taped by a police informant during a trip to northern Ontario in February 2006. The strength of the case has been called into question in recent months as the prosecution has chosen not to proceed with charges against 7 of the 18 accused.