Monday, June 05, 2006

Anti-immigration bandwagon to begin

With the rather shocking news about 17 Ontario men arrested in an al-Qaeda-inspired bomb plot just sinking in to Canadians' consciousness over the weekend, you can already count on the Harper government to unveil a "crackdown" on our "loose" immigration policies in the days to come.

Both inside and outside our borders, the predictable attack on our immigrant and refugee system has begun, starting with a misinformed U.S. congressman on Wolf Blitzer's show on CNN yesterday repeating the tired chestnut that Canada is a breeding ground for terrorism.

This despite authorities confirming the terrorist suspects being largely Canadian citizens (however, some were of Somali, Egyptian, Jamaican and Trinidadian backgrounds, they added) much as the suspects in last year's London tube bomblings were for the most part not immigrants, but British-born.

It's reminiscent of the post-9/11 nonsense with politicians including Hillary Clinton raising hysteria about the risk posed by the longest unprotected border in the world.

Canada is about to pay a high price to our commerce with the U.S. as a fallout of this hysteria, with new rules coming in that will significantly slow down all traffic at border crossings. Manitoba, which has an export-heavy economy, could suffer very badly in the coming years.

Of course, immigration has little to do with the problem. However, the answers to why people -- even Canadian citizens -- might be drawn to an extremist al-Qaeda ideology is much tougher than sabre-rattling about allegedly lax immigration policies.

Watch for immigration minister Monte Solberg to launch a sweeping change to Canada's immigration and refugee system in the coming days, appealing heavily to both the Conservative base and a swath of Canadians newly made anxious by the prospect of homegrown Muslim extremist violence.

The bandwagon has begun and there's no time to waste. Canada's Muslim community should get ready to put on their hardhats, it's going to get rough.

(However, unhelpfully to the federal NDP in opposing the upcoming "get toug on immigration" hysteria, is the fact already making the rounds on conservative blogs about Jack Layton repeating his call for the end to security certificates to a Muslim conference on May 20.)