There are a number of troubling aspects to the recent drama surrounding the annual Public Report on the Terrorism Threat to Canada.
Because it’s released by the Public Safety Minister and written by his staff it’s something of a political document in that it’s being released by a politician. But it’s all underpinned by information provided to the minister by Canada’s intelligence agencies and analysts. Or at least it should be.
The latest report lists five current terrorist threats to Canada. These five, in the order they’re listed, are: Sunni Islamist Extremism, Right-Wing Extremism, Sikh Extremism, Shia Extremism and Canadian Extremist Travellers.
What one would you expect to be the most controversial?
Maybe Islamist extremism, given how we’ve got dozens of ISIS returnees walking around freely on home soil?
Or maybe “right-wing” extremism, since there are concerns about whether this phrase is being improperly broadened and weaponized by the Liberals to vilify Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer and others?
Nope. It was the third one, Sikh extremism. Activists within Sikh circles were irate to see this brief section included in the report. They seemed to wrongly think that what it somehow meant was that all Sikhs are extremists, although their complaints were never clear.
Regardless, the message was conveyed to the Liberals that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and other Liberal MPs wouldn’t be allowed to participate in Sikh community events, such as the recent Vasakhi celebrations.
Apparently the idea of not being able to pander for votes at a sizeable ethnic gathering was just too much for Trudeau and so Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale ordered a review of the report’s wording.
At the eleventh hour, the night before Vasakhi celebrations got underway, the Liberals quietly unveiled a revised version of the report. The chapter headline “Sikh extremism” was replaced with the clumsily worded “Extremists who support violent means to establish an independent state within India”.
Here are a few of the problems with this:
Did the activists mistakenly think the report meant all Sikhs were extremists? If so, why didn’t Goodale simply explain to them this is not correct? By now, Muslims in Canada, for example, understand that references to Muslim extremism just mean the extremists.
Did the government even bother to figure out the essence of this grievance? Or were they simply so troubled by the notion of being denied an opportunity to vote pander that their knee-jerk thought was to revise a national security report that is supposed to be a technical analysis and not vulnerable to political tinkering?
And, here’s the bigger question: Is this just another example of the Liberals not understanding that there needs to be a firewall between political concerns and serious legal, policing and security issues?
While there is nothing illegal about revising this report for whatever reason, it’s all that more alarming when you factor in the SNC-Lavalin interference and the alleged political interference in to the Vice Admiral Mark Norman case.