05/30/2012 05:15 EDT | Updated 07/30/2012 05:12 EDT

Will it Take Another Attack for Canada to Take Terrorism Seriously?


The Canadian government has recently announced a plan to establish grants of $1-million to academic institutions to "study" terrorist threats to Canada. The scheme is named after the Air India plane, Kanishka that was hit by Sikh terrorists in 1985, resulting in the death of 329 people, mostly Canadians.

Twenty-seven years after the worst attack on Canadian interests, the best this government has been able to come up with is $10-million dollars to fund academics to study what we already know?

Even more than a decade since 9/11, the Canadian government has fallen woefully behind other nations when it comes to anti-terrorism funding and where to best allocate the resources. And while most nations have assisted at-risk communities in some way, the current Canadian government has done nothing of the sort to help those affected most.

While there is no doubt of the value of academics when it comes to research on the effects of ethno-nationalist conflicts and diaspora communities, this funding scheme is essentially reinventing the wheel since there is already a huge body of literature around the Air India bombing -- not to mention that scathing rebuke and criticism of agencies like the then-newly formed Canadian Security Intelligence Service and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. The latter agency is hands-down among the most broken of Canadian institutions and ultimately both are free of any meaningful oversight to this day.

This lack of oversight is actually part and parcel of the current Canadian government approach to national security -- that it's frankly none of the business of Parliament and somehow remains the sole right of political parties to decide what they want to do in terms of accountability of national security operations and by extension, I would add, how and where funding opportunities should be allocated.

This remains a very counter-productive aspect of national security mechanisms in Canada because national security MUST always be a non-partisan issue and deserves to be kept in balance with other national interests.

Before the Conservative government majority, certain Liberal members of Parliament, notably Derek Lee (his credentials regarding oversight are impeccable and has literally written the book on Parliamentary procedure) was involved in trying to set up the "Office for National Security Accountability" and it was supposed to be a non-partisan venture involving select members of the Parliament -- elected by the people -- to make sure we had our eye on the ball at all times.

It would have allowed for a fact-based approach to national security versus the ideologically driven approach of the current government. Sadly, after all was said and done, more than 10 years after 9/11 and 27 years after the Air India bombing, this current government continues to pursue an ideologically-driven approach which ignores the findings already available regarding "resiliency of communities" and incredulously demands that we still need to think about whether or not foreign ethnic, sectarian or nationalistic conflicts abroad affect minority communities here; of course they do! Do we need millions in funding to go towards trying to figure out what we already know?

I would strongly suggest to the Canadian government to actually get out in the communities affected (not just the two officers for "Community Outreach" the RCMP managed to think could cover the entire province of Ontario) and build some credibility as opposed to thinking we can just legislate away these problems or that somehow bullets and bombs can destroy ideology and curb radicalization. None of this has worked in the past 10 years and no amount of money and the research that comes from it, will have traction on the ground and the ground is where it counts when it comes to diasporas, not the halls of academia.