by Jerry Gordon and David B. Harris (August 2012)
On December 14, 1999, Ahmed Ressam, an Al-Qaeda trained Algerian Jihadi and resident of Montreal, was arrested in Port Angeles, Washington after he drove off a ferry from Canada with a trunk load of explosives. Thus began the unraveling of the Millennium plot, an attempt by al Qaeda using sleeper cells in the US and Canada, to conduct an attack on the Los Angeles International Airport.
Canada has witnessed its own spectacular Islamist attack plots. On June 2, 2006, counter-terrorism raids in Metro Toronto and elsewhere in Ontario netted 18 suspected Al Qaeda terrorist cell (“Toronto 18”) operatives at several para-military training camps. In Toronto, the suspects were planning to detonate truck bombs, to open fire in a crowded area, and attack the Canadian Broadcasting Centre and the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) regional headquarters. In Ottawa, Canada’s Parliament was to be invaded and the Prime Minister of Canada, beheaded. A trial subsequently disclosed significant evidence that resulted in guilty pleas and convictions that were later upheld by an Ontario appeals court in 2011. In April 2004, a Canadian citizen of Lebanese Muslim background firebombed the library of the United Talmud Torahs Jewish School in Montreal, Quebec. This was a clearly Islamist antisemitic attack that sent a fearful message to Canada’s 380,000 Jews.
Then there was the gruesome evidence of honor killings in the Shafia and Parvez cases. The quadruple murder involving the Quebec Afghan Shafia family resulted in the conviction of the father, his second wife and son in a Kingston, Ontario Court in early 2012. In 2007, 16-year-old Aqsa Parvez was strangled by her brother in Mississauga, Ontario, allegedly because of Ms. Parvez’s penchant for Western dress, flaunting Sharia compliance traditions of “modesty.” The Parvez case sparked international outrage about Islamist treatment of women.
We have written extensively on the case of Canadian-born al Qaeda detainee at Guantanamo, Omar Khadr, who may soon be an unwelcome returnee in Canada. According to arrangements made between the US State Department and Canadian Foreign Affairs Ministry, Canada seems disposed to consider accepting Khadr’s return to Canada in order to serve the remainder of his sentence. He was sentenced to 40 years at a Guantanamo Tribunal in October 2010 for his act in August 2002 of killing of Sfc. Christopher Speer, a US Army Special Forces medic, after the battle for the al Qaeda bastion of Khost, in Afghanistan.
Then there were the human rights tribunals in Alberta, Ontario and elsewhere. Among other things, these saw free-speech advocate Ezra Levant and Maclean’s magazine pursued for what seemed to most Canadians to have been the reasonable exercise of rights of free expression under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Levant had published some of the Danish Muslim cartoons in the Western Standard magazine, while Maclean’s had published excerpts from the bestselling book by columnist Mark Steyn, America Alone. Questionable complaints against Levant were laid by a radical imam, and against Maclean’s, by the Canadian Islamic Congress, Muslim Brotherhood-oriented group. While the complaints ultimately did not succeed, the processes involved cast a chilling effect, at least for a time, over free speech in Canada.
Taken together, recent instances of home-grown Islamist terrorism, honor killings and suppression of free speech, can be regarded to varying degrees as byproducts of Canada’s very liberal immigration and multiculturalism policies. Canada, a country of about 34 million, has witnessed Muslim immigration increasing dramatically in recent decades. In 1981, Canada’s Muslim population was 98,000; by 2017 it is estimated that the country may have 1.4 million Muslim residents.
Given domestic and international developments, this situation presents a complicated demographic and security picture for both Canada and her US neighbor. Indeed, Canada’s future as a ‘peaceable kingdom’ is far from assured in the face of problems of Islamist radicalism, extremism and terrorism and associated concerns about infiltration of police, security and other government and infrastructural entities.
Among all this, it is ironic that the current Harper government in Ottawa, a vigorous defender of the Jewish State of Israel, should inadvertently, through its embracing of Immigration Minister Jason Kenney’s apparent enthusiasm for importing votes, be expanding radical voting blocs that will likely make pro-Israel parties unelectable in the future, and Canada, itself, a much less safe place.
To address these concerns, we conducted an interview with noted Canadian security expert and lawyer, David B. Harris. With three decades in the field of international security and intelligence affairs, David Harris is a Canadian lawyer involved in criminal and national security issues, and Director of the International and Terrorist Intelligence Program, INSIGNIS Strategic Research Inc. Maclean’s calls Harris “one of Canada’s leading experts on terrorism” and acknowledges “his almost unique willingness to speak publicly and fearlessly about Islamic extremism.” He has also consulted with intelligence organizations in Canada and abroad, and served with the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) in 1988-1990.
David Harris is a regular commentator in English and French on terrorism and national security, and has been a witness at US Congressional subcommittee and Canadian parliamentary committee hearings. His analyses have received international media attention. Quoted in the New York Times, The Washington Post, and international news services, Harris has appeared on CBS’s “60 Minutes,” “NBC Dateline,” “The Today Show,” “The CBS News,” CNN, and FOX’s “O’Reilly Factor.” In Canada, Harris has appeared on SUN TV, CBC, CTV and other networks. Harris is featured weekly on CFRA Radio Ottawa’s “The Intelligence File,” and his writing has appeared in various publications.
In addition to his law qualification, Harris holds a Master of Science in Foreign Service degree from Georgetown University, Washington, DC, and a Master’s in Public Administration.
Jerry Gordon: David Harris thank you for consenting to this interview.
David B. Harris: Thank you for inviting me
Gordon: Why do you refer to Canada as Islamism's “happy hunting ground”?
Harris: The Islamists have been highly active in infiltrating and penetrating a variety of institutions within Canada, ranging from government and the private sector, through academe and certain police elements, not excluding the Royal Canadian Mounted Police “outreach” function. In recent days, FOX News and other news sources have reported that, through its Embassy in Canada, Iran may be attempting to recruit Iranian Canadians for the purposes of infiltrating government, and terrorism and subversion, some of it targeting the United States. These are disturbing and arresting developments in themselves, but especially striking to those of us who traditionally have been brought up to view Canada as, as the old expression has it, “the peaceable kingdom”.
Gordon: Has Canada’s peaceable kingdom, its governing structure and multiculturalism given rise to this predicament?
Harris: I think it has to be conceded even by those who have been among the greatest enthusiasts of multiculturalism – and here I refer to the statist multiculturalist phenomenon as understood in Canada – that multiculturalism has been a serious problem and promises to become an even greater one. In Canada, the state, which is to say, the Federal, Provincial and Municipal governments, has been inclined to involve itself, through funding and various other forms of support, in multiculturalist policies and a variety of related initiatives. These, taken together, seem to reinforce the separateness of any number of groups, including most notably those that might be inclined to self-isolate within the larger Canadian community. If we are dealing with certain sorts of radical groups, and the Islamists most emphatically count significantly among these, we find that radical tendencies within these streams will be inclined to be reinforced, rather than to diminish, over time. When one takes into further account the virtually unprecedented and unparalleled nature of immigration in Canada and Canadian immigration policy and approaches, one can see a combination that promises to be all the more difficult in the future for Canada and allies intimately involved with Canada.
Gordon: How have Canada’s immigration policies aided the rapid growth of its Muslim population?
Harris: The situation in Canada, especially Islamic radicalism, cannot be understood without registering the fact that Canadian immigration inflows are the biggest per capita of all 193 countries on the planet. This country, currently of less than 34 million people, in 1981 had 98,000 Muslim citizens. By 2001, that had risen to about 580,000 and in 2017 projections are that the number will reach 1.4 million. This, of course, is altogether a very substantial proportion of the population. In two decades it is reported that 1 in 13 Canadians will be Muslim and by 2031, 2.9 million Canadians will be Muslim. As an example of the shift in population owing to immigration, one can consider the situation that is reported with respect to Vancouver, British Columbia. Today’s 72,000 Muslims will be 230,000 by 2031. The intake has been so pronounced that, in 2007, it was determined that almost nine out of ten Canadian Muslims were born abroad.
As a further illustration of the pace and magnitude of change, it is useful to compare the Canadian Muslim population to a more numerically stable minority population, the Canadian Jewish community. In 1981, Jews in Canada outnumbered Muslims by two or three to one. In less than eighteen years, Muslims in Canada will outnumber Jews by almost seven to one. So we are seeing the result of laws and policies that have brought about a substantial liberalizing of immigration access, over the last three or four decades.
A good deal of that is to the good, but with certain clear pathological results as well. Ordinarily the number of Muslims in Canada would be of no particular concern. It should be mentioned In terms of the counter-jihad that we have profited mightily from the courageous resistance of any number of Muslims who count themselves among the cadre of those opposing Muslim radicalism and extremism. However, the hard fact remains that a 2007 Environics poll showed that approximately 12 percent of Muslims in Canada would be willing to support a Toronto 18 type plot in Canada. It's useful to remember what that plot amounted to. An attempt to undertake simultaneous mass casualty attacks by bombing and by invading certain government and media premises, including the parliament buildings of Canada and, in that latter case, with the aim of beheading the Prime Minister of Canada. That 12 percent number translates into a figure somewhere between 49,000 and 119,000 Canadians, a situation that will be of relatively limited reassurance to most reasonable Muslim and non-Muslim Canadians alike.
Gordon: Could you identify Canada’s Muslim Brotherhood Front Organizations and leading figures?
Harris: We can certainly speak in general terms about those organizations and individuals who might be described as Muslim Brotherhood flavored. Prominent among these has been the Canadian branch of the notorious Council on American-Islamic Relations, CAIR. In Canada, this chapter is known as the Canadian Council on American-Islamic Relations, CAIR-CAN. CAIR-CAN had been intimately involved from its founding, with the Saudi-funded Washington D.C. mother organization. The evidence of this is extensive and beyond controversy. The Canadian organization, in the spirit of the American one, has been active in agitating in ways apparently designed to encourage a misleading belief in the extensive and comprehensive victimhood of Muslims in Canada. Those familiar with the well-known “Muslim victimhood narrative” and the way that it seems to sweep aside the reality of limited -- albeit unacceptable -- hyper-critical approaches to Muslims, ignores the fact that, as in the past, it is blacks and Jews who remain by far the primary targets of hate crimes. As in the United States with CAIR, so in Canada with CAIR-CAN, the aim of the organizations might be to panic otherwise moderate Muslims and alienate them from their fellow citizens, while at the same time inhibiting those Muslims and non-Muslims who would want to criticize extremism. So much for CAIR-CAN.
There is also the Canadian Arab Federation (CAF). CAF is an organization that seems to swim in very troubled waters and render them all the more turbulent. The Canadian government, which considers CAF a “hate” organization, has ended its former practice of funding CAF's assistance in settling immigrants in Canada. It bears mentioning as an illustration of CAF's outlook, that not so many years ago, CAF gave its Canadian Arab Federation 40th anniversary award to Mr. Zafar Bangash, the founder-publisher of a radical Canadian Islamic newspaper, sometimes referred to as a Khomeinist newspaper, called Crescent International. Canada’s National Post newspaper reports that Crescent International’s editorial line has included the proposition that 9/11 was “successful”; that it would be desirable to see Iranian theocracy spread; and, that Canada is a "fully paid-up member of the Anglo-Saxon mafia, which is responsible for most of the recorded genocides in the world.” Citing specific issues of Crescent International, the Post’s accomplished security reporter, Stewart Bell, points out that, “The English-language publication fawns over Iran's fundamentalist regime, reprints verbatim the communiqués of Palestinian terrorists and describes Osama bin Laden as a "famed Arabian" (May 1, 1997) who "stands up to the West in the name of Islam" (Oct. 16, 2001).” Thus, it is on the basis of such sterling Islamist credentials, that the CAF organization awarded its 40th anniversary recognition to the founding publisher of Crescent International.
There is also the notorious Canadian Islamic Congress (CIC). This organization distinguished itself by giving a media excellence award to the self-same founding publisher whom I've just described. CIC has associated itself with support for the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation’s hard-line Islamist attempts at the United Nations to impose Islamist blasphemy laws and norms upon all countries of the international system. This effort represents a direct assault upon anything recognizable as a truly liberal democratic concept of freedom of speech and expression. The situation is ongoing.
There is the controversial Muslim Association of Canada (MAC). This organization is one of the primary groups responsible for educating young Canadian Muslims. Yet, on its website, it has advertised that it follows the line of Hassan Al Banna, founder of the radical Muslim Brotherhood, an extremely concerning situation. As the MAC site puts it:
MAC’s roots are deeply enshrined in the message of Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him). Its modern roots can be traced to the Islamic revival of the early twentieth century, culminating in the movement of the Muslim Brotherhood. This movement influenced Islamic activities, trends and intellectual discourse throughout the world including those of Muslims who came to Canada in search of freedom, education and better opportunities.
MAC adopts and strives to implement Islam, as embodied in the Qur’an and the teachings of the Prophet (peace be upon him) and as understood in its contemporary context by the late Imam, Hassan Al Banna, the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood. MAC regards this ideology as the best representation of Islam as delivered by Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).
As one considers the implications of Canadian Islamic educators infused with the radical-supremacist doctrines of the Muslim Brotherhood, it is worth reflecting on the words of the Muslim Brotherhood Strategic Memorandum. This was a document that was discovered by US authorities and successfully adduced in evidence by prosecutors in the Holy Land Foundation (HLF) terror-funding trial, a prosecution that secured multiple convictions. The “Brothers’” Strategic Memorandum offered guidance to fellow-travelers looking to settle the sullen darklands of North America, better known to most of us as the United States and Canada:
The process of settlement is a ‘Civilization-Jihadist Process,’ with all the word means. The Ikhwan [Muslim Brotherhood] must understand that their work in American [sic] is kind of a grand Jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and sabotaging its miserable house …
Gordon: How closely-related are these Canadian Muslim groups to U.S. groups identified as unindicted co-conspirators in the 2008 Federal Dallas Holy Land Foundation trial and convictions?
Harris: It's difficult to generalize about all organizations, for very obvious reasons. Some of the Canadian ones, no matter how close they demonstrably might be to American groups in many material respects, have been careful to advertise that they are established under Canadian law, that they have a Canadian boards of directors and can similarly be distinguished at least on the surface from these other, US groups. However, it is not difficult in any number of regards to see ideological and other connections that clearly would find these Canadian Islamist groups in doctrinal association with some of the uglier of American Islamist groups. The CAIR/CAIR-CAN connection was formally admitted by CAIR-CAN founder, Dr Sheema Khan, in a sworn affidavit that she made for the Superior Court of Ontario, in December 2003.
Gordon: What evidence is there of Saudi and Emirate ties and funding support to Canada’s Muslim Brotherhood groups?
Harris: One item might be illustrative. We know from the published information of at least one major Saudi development-oriented group, that Gulf-area funds have benefited certain Canadian Islamic educational institutions. More than one in the Toronto area, at least one in Ottawa, an Islamic school, and these kinds of situations are very worrying. Beyond this, at Carleton University in our national capital city of Ottawa, we find Dr. Tariq Ramadan, the Muslim Brotherhood personality who has recently hosted a show on Iran’s Press TV, occasionally feted as a person of honor and presumably of inspiration at the University. We see similar kinds of things. These may or may not involve anything like direct flows of sums to specific institutions, but the fact of indirect interests and influence around and about, would seem to be uncontroversial.
Gordon: What are the principle dynamics of the Muslim Brotherhood stealth jihad in Canada?
Harris: In general, the aim is predictably to take advantage of the relative innocence and pronounced good will of an open, liberal, democratic, pluralist society, especially when that society incorporates both the credit and vulnerability of a multiculturalist element. We see a considerable amount of that relating to the aforementioned Muslim victimhood narrative, with improbable attempts to convince Muslims and non-Muslims alike in Canada that Muslims are primary victims of hate crimes and various other unacceptable behaviors. All of this, notwithstanding objective evidence pointing to other groups’ being disadvantaged in ways far more pronounced than could reasonably be imagined to apply to Canadian Muslims. So there appears to be an agitation-propaganda attempt to galvanize the panicked support of Muslims who believe what they are being told by some of their self-styled community leading groups, such as those connected to CAIR-CAN, MAC and similarly-minded interests. As part of this there is presumably an attempt under way to play on the good will of the mass of the Canadian population, a population that, in the tradition of modern liberal societies, would be appalled to be thought bigoted or prejudiced. The situation has certain qualities of the con game, but it is a con that has not been without considerable success. Against this fraught backdrop, we have seen “outreach”, as it is pleased to call itself, being launched by police and some government sectors, sectors that have not always proven reliably able to understand, and distinguish, the personalities, organizations and motivations existing in the realms to which they outreach. A few years ago, the then-head of RCMP outreach would, inexplicably but perhaps under the influence of radical “community members” advising his colleagues, cite and parrot publicly the persecutionist line from a notoriously methodologically-unreliable “study” completed by CAIR-CAN. This, much to the chagrin of moderate Muslims and others.
Gordon: Could you discuss the CAIR Canada lawsuit that involved you, and its outcome?
Harris: I was interviewed on a major private Ottawa radio station, CFRA Radio Ottawa, on the first of April 2004, and was asked questions about the “double discourse” issue. As people will recall, this essentially refers to an Islamist tendency or technique that has been successful in the West. The technique finds the so-called three-piece-suited jihadis speaking in charming, open and acceptable terms when dealing with a general mass audience largely consisting of non Muslims; but, in contrast, speaking in rather more vigorous and perhaps jihad-oriented terms, when speaking privately with fellow travelers and others -- particularly those from among the Muslim community who might be willing to accept the radical or even extremist view shared by Islamists. This radio discussion arose from a contemporary news event involving the Islamist Muslim Council of Britain (MCB).
At some point in the interview, I remarked how important it was for Canadian and other Western editors, publishers and news people to do their due diligence when it comes to evaluating the reliability of prospective commentators dealing with Islamist issues. Media need to recognize, I offered, that charm, intellect and articulacy should not count for everything when it comes to trying to understand those Muslims who might approach media with the aim of offering comment about Muslims and Islamic themes. I then said that, as one example of a situation that could benefit from clarification, there was news that Dr. Sheema Khan, founder and, at the time, Chair of the CAIR-CAN organization, was being given the benefit by one of Canada’s major newspapers, the Toronto-based Globe and Mail, of writing a column for that newspaper on roughly a monthly basis. Given the obvious similarity of the CAIR-CAN name and a few other features, I said it seemed to me important for us to understand whether a relationship existed between CAIR-CAN and the Washington D.C.-based radical, CAIR. We have, of course, since the time of that interview settled beyond any doubt or question the extensive nature of the relationship existing between those two organizations, but I did not assert that there was such a relationship during the interview. I merely asked the question and, in response, I received a lawsuit.
My impression is that the lawsuit was part of what later came fully to be understood as a transcontinental jihadist liable Lawfare offensive. Before I was served with the suit, a number of people and groups in the United States had been sued on similarly absurd grounds. The overall effort had the aroma of an attempt to silence those who were asking responsible, if pointed, questions about the nature, background, history, links and agenda of the CAIR enterprise. In the end, the CAIR-CAN organization, after about two years and my complete refusal to make any concessions of any kind, decided to have their suit dismissed without any benefit, without any costs or anything else. The Canadian Council on American-Islamic Relations’ loss was a complete defeat. Indeed, I insisted that I would not, on any account, agree to any sort of confidentiality arrangement with CAIR-CAN that would have seen me silenced for the purposes of passing comment upon the episode in future. Hence, I am able to relate the story, today.
In retrospect, it was an instructive chapter. As part of a much larger libel offensive, the law suit ultimately came to be regarded as an indictment of CAIR-CAN’s pretensions to be a human rights’ organization. It is, after all, difficult for an organization to portray itself in human rights’ terms when its escutcheon is blotted with a record of attacks on the First Amendment in the United States, and Charter, Section 2, in Canada.
Gordon: Two media figures in Canada were subjected to human rights hearings: Ezra Levant for publishing the Danish Mohammad cartoons and Maclean’s magazine for publishing an excerpt from Mark Steyn’s book, American Alone. Who brought those complaints and how did these proceedings demonstrate Canada’s lack of free-speech protection?
Harris: This is an important issue, for, if the libel-based court threat is a major concern, the issue of human rights’ commissions and human rights’ tribunals in Canada is a compelling one with respect to freedom of expression, as the free speech guarantee is called in Canada. We have seen these associated tribunals expanding in their mandates from the initial founding of such things in the 1960's, when in those early days they were established to ensure basic rights such as the ability of people, regardless of skin color and other features, to secure apartments and jobs. However, from this laudable approach of yore, we have come to a point where we now find that certain speech “offences” that do not rise to the level of criminal law breaches, have come within the purview of these organizations.
In some ways, it was predictable in the present sensitivity-heightened environment that such organizations would become the forums for further assaults on free speech. All the more so, as regards speech involving attempts to warn in various ways about radicalism unfolding within Canadian society. The seriousness of such developments cannot be overstated: if one can control speech, one can control those who would warn about developing threats within one’s country and one’s neighborhood. And this, in some ways, appears to have been what unfolded in the cases of Mr. Levant and the Maclean’s magazine.
In the Levant case, it must be noted that Calgary Imam Syed Soharwardy, who launched the Alberta Human Rights Commission affair, first approached the authorities with the aim of having charges under the Criminal Code of Canada laid against Mr. Levant. The supposed breach warranting criminal prosecution? Levant had merely published some of the more restrained of the “Mohammed” cartoons in his publication The Western Standard. Prosecutors seemed to have recognized that the publication had not come close to violating criminal law – especially when considered in the context of constitutional free-expression rights – and so the cleric moved on to the human rights commission, and a far more congenial reception. As the commission effort got rolling, appalled observers twigged to the reality that the mere fact of a complaint, if accepted for investigation and pursuit, would mean a number of things, including that the target of this would quite possibly be wedded to substantial legal bills for the privilege of sustaining a defense. Beyond that, these tribunals are not subject to the evidentiary and procedural rules that are so familiar to denizens of the court system. In the end, Soharwardy was unsuccessful, but one guesses that this was only because Mr. Levant made such a dramatic public issue of the story as to alert Canadians at large to the terrible implications of the matter.
The situation involving Maclean's magazine, on the other hand, had its own complications and rather dire warnings and lessons. MacLean’s magazine is generally considered to be Canada's most popular news magazine and had published excerpts from Mark Steyn's bestselling book, American Alone. Some individuals particularly connected to the Canadian Islamic Congress, which radical organization I have mentioned earlier, decided to make formal complaints to not simply one human rights commission, but three. The fact that complaints were laid before commissions in multiple jurisdictions, had the air of an elegant form of harassment. Although the complaint eventually failed, a good deal of attention settled on the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC).
One can only imagine the expense involved; in the end, the Ontario body made what seems to have been the constitutionally-appropriate decision, namely, that it would not take the complaint beyond the investigative stage. OHRC Chair Barbara Hall dismissed the complaint. However, in doing so, Hall unprecedently took it upon herself to issue an extensive statement that was aptly indicted by a commentator as a “drive-by verdict.” This statement condemned Maclean's magazine and even used the language of “Islamophobia” that contrived expression that moderate Muslims frequently berate as a one-word technique designed to foreclose any possibility of rational discussion about Islamic radicalism. Muslims and non Muslims, who were genuinely concerned about human rights and procedural propriety, criticized the Hall statement because it had been ventured in the absence of hearings, the presentation of a case to meet, and of an opportunity for a defense to be proffered by Maclean’s.
In short, and despite the formal dismissal, the OHRC was making a de facto judgment in the absence of anything recognizable as rules of evidence, and at the expense of the good name of the magazine, Mr. Steyn and others implicated in this. To the rescue came a moderate Muslim organization, the Muslim Canadian Congress (MCC). The MCC startled any number of people including not a few who thought they may have been up to date about the problem of Islamist penetration of sensitive Canadian institutions. The MCC said that the Ontario Human Rights Commission was penetrated by one or more Sharia supporters at the commissioner level. This is to say that at least one of the individuals appointed to the OHRC by the Premier of Ontario, was a Sharia supporter. The MCC went on to assert that at the staff level there also was a Sharia Islamic law supporter. This news left the unedifying picture of a body which was at once vested with power to determine the legal boundaries of free expression in the Province of Ontario, while being to some extent influenced by hard-line Islamists.
At a public conference held by the Point de Bascule website in Montreal not long after this event, Mr. Tarek Fatah, a noted moderate Muslim and founder of the MCC, identified by name a policy advisor whom he said was serving with Barbara Hall’s human rights commission in Ontario, and was a Sharia supporter. Mr. Fatah went on to assert that it was that person who had actually drafted a good part of the statement that was issued in Ms Hall’s name, in condemnation of Maclean’s. Fatah added, for good measure, that this OHRC staffer reports to work daily in Saudi robes and other attire. Mr. Fatah thought this a matter of more than passing interest to those who value a certain neutrality and integrity in quasi-judicial bodies empowered to interpret citizens’ speech-rights.
Since then, the federal government has supported Bill C-304, legislation to excise s. 13 from the mandate of the Canadian Human Rights Commission, the federal body. S. 13 makes it a “discriminatory practice” to convey hate messages by telephone, or on the internet. Although the Bill has been passed by the House of Commons, Senate debate is awaited, and, in any case, provincial legislation circumscribing free expression remains on the books.
Without, in fairness, wishing to exaggerate the significance of a single exchange in the human rights’ commission context, no report of this issue would be complete without an excerpt from the transcript of Warman v. Lemire, a Canadian Human Rights Tribunal (CHRT) proceeding. In this excerpt reproduced at by Mark Steyn at the National Review website, the lawyer for Marc Lemire, the target of a hate enquiry, questions Canadian Human Rights Commission anti-hate investigator, Dean Steacey:
MS KULASZKA: Mr. Steacy, you were talking before about context and how important it is when you do your investigation. What value do you give freedom of speech when you investigate one of these complaints?
MR. STEACY: Freedom of speech is an American concept, so I don't give it any value.
MS KULASZKA: Okay. That was a clear answer.
MR. STEACY: It’s not my job to give value to an American concept.
Gordon: How deep is the infiltration of Islamists in Canada’s national and provincial governments’ law enforcement and military and can you provide us with some specific examples?
Harris: Consider what emerged in 2010 when our premiere police force in Canada, the federal Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), were in the midst of a community outreach program that was established a few years after 9/11. This program features, among any number of other things, “roundtables”, ethno cultural and religious community groups for adults and for youth. In Ottawa, things came to a head when it suddenly was brought to the public’s attention that a uniformed officer, serving as the secretary of the Ottawa RCMP community outreach group of private citizens from various ethnic, cultural and religious groups, had distributed an invitation and associated posters to the group and others.
The invitation was to a so-called peace conference that was to be held at the Government Conference Center in Ottawa. When one examined the agenda that was then available a number of things struck the careful observer. The first was that a group of four individuals, who were members of Canada’s Green Party, were the nominal sponsors of this gathering. The Conference agenda gave off an odor of an Iranian government strategic intelligence deception operation. The agenda listed as a moderator an Imam who was serving as Executive Director of the radical Canadian Islamic Congress. Also listed, were fairly significant academics from Iran, people who had presumably won the pleasure of the Islamic dictatorship running that unfortunate country. There was an individual from Iran who represented what was described as a peace organization. Alas, RCMP outreachers did not appear to notice what a quick internet search revealed: this dignitary’s “peace organization” had posted upon its website a gross caricature of an Orthodox Jew, complete with hook-nose and a top hat incorporating skulls.
These and other aspects of the Conference plan invited the obvious question: why on earth would a uniformed RCMP officer in good standing have distributed such preposterous material in favor of such an awful undertaking? We can thank Maclean's for a partial explanation. A full-fledged community member of Ottawa’s RCMP outreach committee, had given the Conference invitation, agenda and poster to the officer, requesting that the latter distribute it. The community member? None other than a gentleman originally from Iran who had identified himself as heading an Iranian cultural organization. This organization had, as it happens, the same address as the Iranian Embassy in Ottawa. So active is Iran in Canada that it could be believable that some folk would have trouble keeping up with the pace of Tehran’s movements in Ottawa. But, even at that, neither the RCMP nor its political masters were quick off the mark. In the end, it was left to a federal minister to publicly order from the heights of the House of Commons of Canada that RCMP officers would, in future, not be permitted to attend hate meetings. It is remarkable to consider that this would have been necessary, but it is perhaps a sign of the times.
Gordon: Why did the Harper Government negotiate a return of the Canadian Afghan terrorist Omar Khadr to Canada with the U.S. Department of State, despite his conviction at Guantanamo Bay?
Harris: Mr. Omar Khadr is a gentleman who, through his own guilty plea in the U.S. judicial context, was found to have killed an American serviceman in Afghanistan. This was only one of the young Mr. Khadr's distinctions. Some others derived from the fact that he was a member of what is generally referred to as the Al Qaeda first family of terrorism in Canada. His father had been a notorious Al Qaeda supporter who operated in South Asia. Then-Prime Minister Jean Chretien negotiated the latter’s release from detention in the Indo-Pakistan region. Such, I suppose, is the nature of ethno-religious politics these days that Mr. Chretien is said to have followed up this coup by racing off to report the niceties of the release plans to the wife of the senior Mr. Khadr. To make a long story short, Mr. Khadr ultimately seems to have returned to his hobbies and was later shot down in South Asia along with one of his other sons who was rendered paralyzed as a result of that gun fight.
The public declarations made by certain surviving Khadr family members have been similarly unprepossessing, the mother – inevitably bound up in a black burqua hiding all but a pair of raging eyes – having made clear she regards Canada and Canadians as all but enemies, and that the main attraction of this country is the free health care that was made available to the paralyzed young Mr. Khadr when he came back.
In the meantime, we have Omar Khadr, whose transfer to Canada has been under negotiation. It is not unusual to find Canadian criminal convicts in the United States return to Canada to serve some or all of their sentences. However, one of the disturbing considerations in this particular situation, especially given the animus reserved by a great many Canadians for the currently imprisoned Omar Khadr, is the suggestion that the Canadian government may be bowing to pressure from the Obama White House to repatriate Khadr. According to various reports, the White House is desperately interested in reducing the number of people currently being held at Guantanamo. It is supposed that this pressure from the Obama Administration is politically motivated and stems from Mr. Obama’s preoccupation with the approaching November elections. It remains to be seen what the details of any transfer agreement might amount to.
Gordon: Have there been other Canadian Muslim émigrés recruited as foreign fighters for Al Qaeda affiliates?
Harris: It's generally said that Canada has a serious problem with regard to certain young Canadian Somali Muslims. Some of these individuals appear to have made common cause with the Al Shabab enemy in Somalia. According to reports, about twenty young Somali Canadians may have made their way to the ancestral homeland for training and combat. It is worth noting that, whatever the specifics, the kinds of numbers about which we are hearing in Canada are similar to estimates of the number of Somali-Americans who may be connected to Al Shabab and operating abroad. This is a very important statistical item to bear in mind, because Canada’s population is roughly one tenth that of the United States. In light of these proportions, the posited numbers of young Somali Canadians aligning with Shabab are disturbing in the extreme, and point yet again to Canadian problems associated with immigration, failed integration and the metastasizing menace of radicalization. Warning a US congressional committee of dangerous trends, the National President of the Canadian Somali Congress spoke about the way in which Shabab and other operatives advance “the toxic anti-Western narrative that creates a culture of victimhood in the minds of members of our [Somali-Canadian] community.”
Gordon: Is there a threat of possible homegrown Canadian Islamist terrorists?
Harris: There most certainly is. It is now indeed a matter of historical record. Canada has had in the space of a very few years the Toronto 18 convictions registered, along with various other successfully completed prosecutions of homegrown extremists. I have described the general nature of the plot in the Toronto 18 case. Apart from its more obvious and dramatic qualities, details incidental to the prosecution offered some useful insights into the expanding world of Canadian Islamic radicalism.
I refer to the intercepted internet chatter of several female partners of some of those who were accused, or closely implicated, in the Toronto 18 plot. These exchanges in many ways were of a tone and content shocking to the conscience of many Canadians. Recall that we Canadians have tended to share with some other Westerners a belief that the world is an essentially friendly locale, in which our neighborhoods might forever be places free from extremism and threat. What was noteworthy in some of the intercepted banter, however, was the gut-level hostility that was aimed at Canada and everything that Canada seemed to represent. In one case, a partner of one of those implicated was unable to bring herself to use the word “Canada” in her internet discussions. Instead, she would satisfy herself with the term, "this filthy country."
If this sort of radical hostility is an important font from which terrorism can flow, it is quite clear that Canada is headed for further trouble. In any event, evidence of that trouble has not been long in coming. There was, for example, the case of the young, handsome and intelligent software consultant by the name of Momin Khawaja who performed contract work with the Department of Foreign Affairs in our capital, Ottawa. This individual was working in concert with terrorists who had considerable experience in Pakistan and Britain, and were plotting any number of explosive attacks including, it is believed, assaults on allied forces serving in South Asia.
Evidence revealed that, with all of the freedom, plenty and opportunity that would have been available to Canadian-born Khawaja, his immigrant Muslim parents, including his highly-educated father, seem to have facilitated – inadvertently or otherwise – his sense of “otherness.” They removed him from Canada at an early age, a good part of his peripatetic upbringing being spent in Muslim-majority countries not known for their embracing of tolerant values. Indeed, a choice moment in Khawaja’s trial came when evidence was presented of the accused’s intercepted emails. In at least one, Khawaja reminisced about how his mother used to read to him in his infancy what appeared to be bedtime stories. The tone of the email suggested the kind of fond and sentimental remembrance of an English child’s being cuddled to the gentle drone of a Rupert the Bear story. Except that, by his account, Mummy was reading her tot bloodthirsty bedtime tales from the Islamist jihad oeuvre. Even the courtroom audience of Canadians, a tribe that often seems to aspire to reach the very heights of political correctness, shuddered visibly. With Khawaja’s parents sitting in the middle of the courtroom, spectators displayed remarkable self-discipline, no necks craning to examine the head-veiled mother. But a closer look at the audience revealed that, although no head had turned, a great many eyes had nonetheless swiveled as one, to study – almost fearfully – the mother, and what this mother might have represented. A dawning was occurring for many in that room.
Mr. Khawaja was convicted, but even this silver lining has a cloud. One of the difficulties that has emerged from all of this has been the extent to which Mr. Khawaja and perhaps some similarly-inclined others may be in a position to radicalize prison populations. In any event Mr. Khawaja’s initial sentence was somewhat limited, although this seems to have been made more demanding after an appeal. Another appeal is in progress. To death and taxes, one can add appeals as another inevitability of existence.
We also had a situation in Quebec in which an individual played a significant part in reinforcing the efforts of an Islamic extremist internet group that was propagating terror-friendly messaging. Taking these kinds of episodes in concert with the evidence of radicalization and the unhelpful messages of certain Muslim Brotherhood-connected organizations in Canada, one has to believe that Canada has become Islamism’s happy hunting ground.
Gordon: Canada has witnessed several spectacular honor killings in its Muslim community, the most gruesome of which was the quadruple murder involving the Quebec Afghan Shafia family that resulted in the convicting of the father, his second polygamous wife and son in a Kingston, Ontario Court, this past year. What were the media and government reactions to evidence of polygamy and Sharia sanctioned violence in disregard of Canadian human and civil rights laws?
Harris: There was initially surprisingly little emphasis on the story. In the early, pre-trial stages, authorities quite properly released only small amounts of information. Gradually, with the publishing of court proceedings, the story’s outrageous components came together in the public mind. A wealthy pater familias who had emigrated from Afghanistan conspired with one of his two polygamous wives, also from Afghanistan, to kill the other wife and three teenage daughters. In order to understand the enormity of this outrage, it must be taken on board that the killer-couple conspired with their son to murder three of their own daughters. The four Shafia victims were found in a car submerged in canal locks, at Kingston, Ontario. By the time mother, father and son were convicted of first-degree murder, the story had become impossible to ignore, and rendered undeniable the murders’ character as honor killings of Westernized females. Withal, the media generally maintained a restrained approach to their coverage. This was admirable, but did, at times, raise questions about whether a certain politically-correct avoidance was at work, with regard to incuriousness about the phenomenon of Islamist honor-killing, immigration and so on. As is so routinely the case in Canada, journalists, in the main, steered clear of the significant issues having to do with immigration.
One individual among several, who did a very effective job of reporting this case, was a journalist with the National Post in Toronto by the name of Christie Blatchford. Ms. Blatchford had also produced some useful but more limited reporting about the Momin Khawaja affair. The attention was useful but it is not clear that people came to understand the dreadful nature of the case in the larger context of Islamism, including attendant issues of homicidal and gender-related extremism, and the basic threat to the current democratic order.
This is not the first Muslim honor-killing that Canada has seen, by a long shot. Indeed, there was another matter on Canadians’ minds at the time: Mississauga, Ontario, high school student Aqsa Parvez was strangled by her brother, as a result of a conspiracy involving her father. The men were upset by Aqsa’s Western ways, and the presiding judge did not hesitate to declare the murder an honor killing.
In reaction to these developments, a charm offensive was undertaken by an Islamist group that went to the trouble of holding a press conference apparently designed to make all the right noises. In the course of this highly-choreographed media effort, the Islamist who was leading it seems to have at least implied that perhaps young Aqsa might still have been alive if only she had been sensible enough to wear a hijab. I actually heard a heavily-veiled female Islamist who was so shocked by the mishandling of this public relations performance that she herself termed the press conference a "disaster." She was certainly not far off but it seems to require Islamist public relations disasters for many of us in Canada to awaken. Meanwhile, an Imam in Kingston followed up the Shafia killings with a challenge to the public to show where, in Islamic scripture, one could possibly find authority for religiously-based Islamic honor-killing. The challenge found a number of takers, including the Point de Bascule website, which published a detailed response that might have dismayed the Imam. In general, mainstream media published the Imam’s challenge, but would not touch follow-on discussion about important doctrinal aspects of the issue.
Gordon: Does Canadian law recognize Sharia Islamic law?
Harris: I'm tempted to say not for want of trying. Several years ago, an attempt was made by Islamists in Ontario to have Sharia law recognized in this province. One must be careful with terminology, in this context. CAIR-CAN and similar groups were at least circumspect enough to recognize that other terminology would be apropos, if only, I would speculate, to keep the average citizen off his or her guard. Hence, we were told that the initiative involved “Islamic civil law,” presumably to avoid the specter of what passes for Islamic criminal law in such amputational and neck-chopping jurisdictions as Saudi Arabia.
The public and political class were fast asleep as the Ontario Sharia campaign got rolling. In truth, the Islamists had some grounds upon which to base their demands. Until that point, a certain kind of informal consideration had been granted to other religious groups for their own private religious courts. Based on this invaluable precedent, the Islamists made demands that Muslims, too, should be able to have their own “tribunal” decisions recognized in some form by courts. Although the focus was primarily on family law, Ontarians began to awaken, estimating that Sharia civil law might simply be the thin edge of a very disturbing wedge.
Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty seems not to have quite realized what he was getting in to when he agreed to authorize an official to explore the advisability of recognizing Islamic tribunals. It was thanks to movements of women in Ontario, particularly some of the intellectual class and moderate Muslim women, in particular, that it began to dawn on people what all this meant. The result was that the Sharia attempt was stopped, at least for the moment. The Premier declared that there would be one law for all and any kind of former privileging of other religious groups with respect to religious law was brought to an end.
As a footnote to this, it is interesting to consider why the province of Ontario, of all places in North America, came to be targeted for this form of Islamist attention and precedent-setting. It has been suggested that Islamists had earlier got together in the US northeast in order to try to identify the softest target available for the purposes of establishing a precedent that they could then take with them to all manner of other provinces and states and, indeed, to other countries. The implication is that Ontario was selected as the weakest link. This probably takes us back to some of the other considerations about what is happening in Canada these days. In this regard, it is useful to note that by far the most significant proportion of the tidal wave of immigrants arriving in Canada, settles in Toronto, in the province of Ontario.
From all of this, one is reminded of the all-important matter of precedents, and their use by Islamists. Any advantage or consideration that is extended to some religions, including local churches, will be claimed by others. If a church bell is allowed to toll in a neighborhood, the call to prayer be permitted to be broadcast from a mosque in that same neighborhood, regardless of the mosque’s specific ideological complexion. We must keep this in mind as we go about setting precedents, including precedents favoring religious practice in public contexts.
Gordon: Has the influx of Muslim immigrants given rise to Islamic antisemitism in Canada?
Harris: Again, there are serious concerns that this has been the case. Those who have looked at Islamism – radical Islam – worldwide do not seriously doubt that there is a pronounced Islamist strain of Jew-hatred. We have had episodes that are suggestive of this, as, for example, in Montreal where a Jewish school was fire-bombed. It is a touchy issue and one can understand that, as in so many other things, it invites the possibility of unfair generalizations being made about Muslims. Be that as it may, one cannot be blinded to the attitudes of a considerable proportion of Muslims in the world who seem to have a great deal of hostility to Jews, Christians and others. Or to the fact that about nine out of ten Muslims in Canada were born abroad, possibly in jurisdictions where interfaith tolerance was not, to say the least, a national value.
I am reminded of some testimony I offered to a committee of the Canadian Senate in February 2011 when looking at issues of integration, social cohesion and national security. I took as an example some opinion surveys that had been produced by the Pew Trust. Relying, in the context of the developing “Arab Spring,” on certain survey data that dealt with Muslim countries, I focused on Egypt – hardly, at the time, the most radical of Islamic jurisdictions. At least one survey indicated that 84% of Egyptian Muslims believed that the death penalty should be imposed on those leaving Islam. Eighty-two percent believed in death for adultery. Seventy-seven percent wanted amputations for thievery, and so on. One in five supported al-Qaeda. Taking such results as a proxy for attitudes, including attitudes of some but not by any means of all, of the Egyptian immigrants arriving in Canada in recent years, I noted that Canada had taken in very roughly 20,000 Egyptians during the last ten dangerous years. Many of those people will, of course, be productive contributors and of no difficulty, but one must be realistic about this kind of situation, and the fact of the bigger context in which it occurs.
As a further footnote, it is worth bearing in mind that, in the last decade, Canada has settled well over 60,000 Iranians as permanent residents, in Canada, and that Iranian Canadians with whom I have spoken guess that up to half these people are loyal to Tehran and its regime. This could constitute a threat to Canadian public safety and national security, and a potential problem for our United States neighbor and friend.
Gordon: The Harper Government is perhaps one of Israel's best friends in the West. What in your view gave rise to that positive development?
Harris: It is rather difficult to say, although some elements of this are quite evident. The primary one would seem to be religious-based conviction. Mr. Harper is part of an apparently Christian Evangelical tradition in Canada, a tradition that is shared by any number of Canadians who would have supported the Harper electoral campaigns. This is not to suggest that the number of Evangelicals in Canada by proportion is anywhere comparable to that in the United States, or that their influence is comparable in the two countries.
Whatever the fine points, the Canadian Government has been prepared to assume positions in defense of the one credible sister liberal democracy in the Middle East, Israel. It is a fact that the Harper Government has been prepared to do this, despite the political costs, internationally and even domestically.
This latter aspect introduces a strange disconnect involving the quantity and pattern of immigration that I have just described. Indeed, the peculiar paradox and irony in all of this cannot be missed. Here, on the one hand, we have a government that is properly dedicated to the survival of our Israeli ally. Yet, on the other, it is continuing – in fact, escalating – an approach to immigration that can only be characterized as vote-importing. Thus, with the best of intentions with regard to Israel, and, for that matter, Jews, the Harper Government is inadvertently setting the stage for a future Canada in which it would be most surprising if pro-Israel governments could be elected. One might go further and suggest that the nature of demographic change wrought by the mad quest to import votes, especially as led by Immigration Minister Jason Kenney, could mean that even those associated in any way with the Israel, including Jews themselves, might be rendered unelectable in this country. These are dreadful consequences to contemplate, but realistic concerns when evidence is considered in its entirety.
Gordon: What has the Harper government done to combat the spread of Sharia blasphemy codes espoused by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation at both the U.N. General Assembly and the notorious U.N. Human Rights Council?
Harris: It's unclear to me what the Government has done with respect to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation blasphemy juggernaut. The Government’s instincts seem to lie in the right direction with regard to free speech and hence their joining in the move against Section 13 of the human rights mandate that has been so problematic in Canada. It is not really clear what the Government has been prepared to do, or been able to do, where this particular challenge is concerned. It is beyond question that the federal Government is impatient with the more shocking failures of the United Nations Human Rights Council, failures that begin with periodic membership on this body of some of the most atrocious human rights violators known to humanity. Whether or not Canada should withdraw from involvement with the Council or from other entities connected to the U.N., is a reasonable question, but not one on the Government’s front burner, at the moment.
Gordon: If the rise of Islamization continues, what do you see as the future of Canada’s peaceable kingdom?
Harris: If current trends persist, wholesale infiltration of Canada by radical and extremist Islamic ideologies and people, will continue apace, and the country’s future will be one of division, upheaval, and tragedy. It is to be hoped that Canada’s Government will at last recognize the importance of stability and deal with the fundamental issues. First among these, will be the vital necessity of reducing immigration to levels commensurate with public safety and national security. This may require a reshaping of immigrant-selection criteria, so that Canada can more credibly position itself to deal with the threat of Islamic radicalism and other national-security issues, such as Beijing’s deepening influence in what some describe, chillingly, as China’s newest North American province. A number of Muslim moderates have specifically called for a moratorium on immigration – as opposed to genuine refugee intake – from Pakistan, Somalia and other extremist-producing countries. Canada must also look at the particular threat posed by Iran, China and other nations that may use foreign intelligence arms to undermine further the cohesion and security of Canada and its allies.
Gordon: I want to thank you for this masterful set of responses and it is certainly magisterial.
Harris: Thank you so much. Coming from you that means a great deal.
Also see Jerry Gordon's collection of intervews, The West Speaks.
To comment on this interview, please click here.
To help New English Review continue to publish timely and interesting interviews like this one, please click here.
If you have enjoyed this article and want to read more by Jerry Gordon, please click here
Jerry Gordon is a also regular contributor to our community blog. To read his entries, please click here.