An Ontario man who spent four years fighting for Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) languishes in a Syrian prison with his wife and two children and wants the Canadian government to bring them home.
“Why shouldn’t I be able to go home?” he said in an interview with CTV. “I’ve done nothing in Canada. I’ve broken no laws there at all.”
Wrong. Under Section 83.181 of the Criminal Code, anyone who leaves or tries to leave to commit an offence that is indictable in Canada is liable to imprisonment for up to 10 years.
And yet, the Liberals have failed to apply the law fully to jihadists who have returned. Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale told the House in 2017 that “the number of returnees is in the order of 60” and said fighters considered a threat are monitored. Further, they will be tried if there is evidence they acted outside the law.But, they all should have been imprisoned for a decade for simply leaving to join ISIL. The Tories had it right in 2015 when they wanted to strip them of their citizenship and forbid them from returning. With thousands now in custody in the Middle East, this is exactly what some countries are doing, instead of allowing these time bombs to wander into their societies.
Here in Canada, the Liberals have done virtually nothing, which endangers everyone. In Dec. 2018, terrorism researcher Professor Amarnath Amarasingam, with the George Washington University Center for Cyber and Homeland Security extremism program, said only four of the 19 Canadians he identified as having returned from Syria and Iraq had been charged. Two were found guilty and two were waiting to go on trial. Five more were given terrorism peace bonds, now expired.
Peace bonds for violent, brainwashed killers? No consequences for most of the 60? No exact numbers?
Clearly, Ottawa has been derelict in its duty to protect the public. A Dec. 2018 report, drafted by the federal Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, says it is “’conceivable’ all 60 returnees could commit ‘low-sophistication’ terrorism attacks, including knife and vehicle attacks,” CBC reported.
In February, the Tories pushed a motion to force the federal government to come up with a legal strategy for dealing with jihadists. Exasperated Tory immigration critic Michelle Rempel said to Liberal Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale that “it’s their job to keep Canadians safe … When will this government get serious?”
In December, a private member’s bill in Ontario proposed denying these terrorists drivers licenses, health care coverage, or housing assistance.
Critics and supporters of the bill say such measures will never fly under constitutional grounds because residents and citizens are entitled to privileges. But terrorists, who flout the rule of law, should be denied the rule of law. Since 2015, Australia has stripped citizenship from dual citizens who join terrorist groups, and the only “evidence” required to do so is that they entered certain “declared-area” forbidden regions. Germany plans to pass similar laws and Sweden is debating whether to do the same.
Britain recently cancelled the U.K. citizenship of a pregnant ISIL wife who holds another citizenship. The United States also cancelled the citizenship of an ISIL spouse born in the U.S.
Most foreign fighters who joined ISIL perished as their caliphate was destroyed. They forfeited their citizenship and should be rejected altogether.
Instead of a strategy of any kind, the Liberals once more fail to uphold the rule of law — a lapse that poses a threat to all Canadians.