After September 11
After the terrorist attacks in the U.S., Ottawa turned its focus to controlling the world's longest unprotected border (there are 8,892 kilometers of between the U.S. and Canada).
Within 45 minutes of the terrorist attacks:
Canada began accepting 224 diverted planes and more than 33,000 passengers and aircrew in airports across the country. In small communities like Gander, Newfoundland and Labrador, 12,000 people were accommodated, although the local population is only 10,000.
Two weeks later:
Immigration minister Elinor Caplan toughens refugee screening in Canada
Within three weeks:
Prime Minister Jean Chrétien established the Ad Hoc Cabinet Committee on Public Security and Anti-Terrorism, chaired by John Manley, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, to review policies, legislation, regulations and programs across the Government to strengthen all aspects of Canada's approach to fighting terrorism and ensuring public security. Although some PMO sources say the committee folded in December, it has met as recently as two weeks ago.
One month (Oct. 15, 2001) later:
The Government introduces. The Anti-Terrorism Act, which includes measures designed to: identify, prosecute, convict and punish terrorists; provide new investigative tools to law enforcement and national security agencies; and ensure that Canadian values of respect and fairness are preserved through stronger laws against hate crimes and propaganda. Canada has ratified 10 of the 12 counterterrorism conventions of the United Nations. The new Anti-Terrorism Act will allow Canada to ratify the remaining two.
The proposed measures are part of a multifaceted, $280-million federal plan in response to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in the United States
But critics charge the new measures threaten to turn Canada into a police state, and suggest the act requires a sunset clause.
Two months (Nov 22, 2001) later:
The government introduces The Public Safety Act, amending 18 federal laws to further strengthen the Government's ability to protect Canadians, prevent terrorist attacks and respond swiftly if a significant threat should arise. Highlights include: security requirements for the design or construction of aircraft, airports and facilities; screening people and goods entering restricted areas; making it an offence to engage in any behaviour that endangers the safety or security of a flight or persons on board; requiring air carriers or those operating aviation reservation systems to provide basic information on specific passengers or flights when it is needed for security purposes; and amendments to the Immigration Act to speed implementation of measures, including: suspending or terminating refugee determination proceedings if there are reasonable grounds to believe that the claimant is a terrorist, senior official of a government engaged in terrorism or a war criminal; denying wanted persons the ability to evade justice by going to a country of their choice rather than to the country where they are wanted; imposing stiff increases in penalties for people smuggling; and giving immigration officers the authority to arrest and detain foreign nationals in Canada who are unable to satisfactorily identify themselves.
Three months (Dec. 3, 2001) later:
Canadian and U.S. governments sign a Joint Statement of Cooperation on Border Security and Regional Migration Issues. Efforts will focus on deterrence, detection and prosecution of security threats, the disruption of illegal migration and the efficient management of legitimate travel through: integrating Canadian officials on the U.S. Foreign Terrorist Tracking Task Force; reviewing visitor visa policy; developing joint units to assess information on incoming air passengers; increasing the number of Immigration Control Officers overseas; developing common biometric identifiers for documents; developing a Safe Third Country Agreement; expanding the Integrated Border Enforcement Teams; and reinvigorating Project North Star.
Since they were first implemented six years ago, Canadian immigration control officers abroad have stopped more than 33,000 people with false documents before they boarded planes for North America (more than 6,000 in 2001 alone).
Integrated Border Enforcement Teams target cross-border crime through an integrated law enforcement approach that brings together agencies at all levels in Canada and their U.S. counterparts. There are four IBET stations across the country.
sources: DFAIT, Citizenship and Immigration Canada