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The Ottawa Citizen from Ottawa, Ontario, Canada • 6

Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
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CANADA FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 28, 2003 Canada seen as terrorist 'gateway' U.S. perception that immigration lax must change: American senator 5 THE OTTAWA CITIZEN when there were reports later proved false that some terrorists had slipped into the U.S. through Eastern Canada. Several members of Congress subsequently pointed the finger at Canada. Peter Boehm, a senior diplomat at the Canadian Embassy in Washington, attributed the suspicions about Canada to the "galvanic shock" that the terrorist attacks caused to the U.S.

political system. Canada has unsuccessfully lobbied for Canadian citizens to be exempted from the Homeland Security Department's new tracking system, arguing that it will cause chaos at the border, given the number of Canadians who enter the U.S. daily. Mr. Boehm told the conference that he understands why DEPARTMENT OF NATIONAL DEFENCE An aging Sea King helicopter crashed yesterday while lifting off the deck of a Canadian Forces destroyer, slightly injuring an airman and a firefighter.

The HMCS Iroquois left Halifax on Monday and was on its way to a mission in the Persian Gulf when the accident occurred. The; cause of the crash was not immediately known. Sea King: Crash 'invites ridicule' i By Janice Tibbetts WASHINGTON Many American politicians still think Canada has lax immigration laws that make it a gateway for terrorists to slip into the United States, a Republican senator said yesterday. "I think that is what most American policymakers truly believe," said Senator Susan Collins, who grew up in Maine near the border. "Canadian immigration is looser than in the U.S.

and more porous and represents a vulnerability." Ms. Collins chairs the Senate committee overseeing the new Department of Homeland Security, which officially comes into existence tomorrow. Among other things, the department will be responsible for tracking people who enter the U.S. through one of the 130 border points with Canada. Ms.

Collins, speaking at a conference on relations, said Canada must become more aggressive in persuading American lawmakers that then-perception of Canada is wrong. "I think the most important step Canada can take is to show us that we're wrong about your immigration policies, demonstrate that to us, or if you tighten them, tell us," she said "It's not that American citizens are fearful of Canadian citizens crossing the border. It's the fear that other foreign nationals who may be hostile to the United States will use Canada as a route into the United States." Fears among Americans that Canada is a gateway for terrorists have persisted since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorists attacks, Continued from page Ai "It is possible, however, to have a command role by a frigate. We have done that for some time, and it is possible to continue the command role with a frigate for a period of time.

But it is better to have a destroyer in the command role." He noted that two Canadian vessels are in the Gulf and will be joined shortly by HMCS Fredericton, which departs for the region next Wednesday. He said he still hopes the Iroquois will eventually join the mission, but that will depend on the assessment of the damage, Mr. McCallum dismissed opposition assertions that the crash is an "international embarrassment" for Canada, but he acknowledged frankly: "Clearly, this is a negative development." Conservative leader Joe Clark went further. "This is more than an accident, it invites ridicule," said Mr. Clark, a former foreign minister in the Brian Mulroney government that first proposed to replace the aging helicopters in 1993.

Canada had been given an expanded mandate in the region, called Task Force 151, which increased its area of responsibili ty in the waters near Iran and Iraq. The state-of-the-art destroyer one of only four in the Canadian fleet was to give a Canadian commodore the vessel he needed to command the ships in the Gulf region that had just received added responsibility. However, the ship's K)6os-era Sea King helicopter crashed on the back deck shortly after takeoff late yesterday afternoon shortly before sunset. A co-pilot and a firefighter suffered minor injuries. The cause of the crash was not immediately known.

The Iroquois turned around and was about 540 nautical miles off the East Coast of Canada last night and is due back in port by tomorrow. The Sea King was chained on its side on the back deck, said Denise LaViolette, a navy spokeswoman. The Sea King will be removed from the Iroquois with a crane once it reaches port. In the Commons, Canadian Alliance and Tory MPs laid the blame for the accident on Prime. Minister Jean Chretien, who, immediately after taking office in 1993, cancelled the previous Tory government's plans to replace the Sea Kings with state-of-the-art EH-iois.

"If the government had not cancelled the contract, our people would be flying brand-new helicopters right now," said Alliance defence critic Leon Benoit. "I'd like to be a fly on the wall when the prime minister phones Washington to explain that Canada cannot participate in the war on terrorism because one of the helicopters, one of the ones it did not replace, crashed and our warship is in the shop." Canadian Alliance leader Stephen Harper said the crash was bad enough, but the greater embarrassment was having to call the Iroquois back home. "This was a contribution Canada was trying to make, albeit through back channels, to the international situation," said Mr. Harper. "Now we're pulling it off the table.

It just points out how decayed the state of our military really is." Mr. McCallum said he had not discussed yesterday's accident with the U.S. or other allies. Tory MP Elsie Wayne demanded that Mr. McCallum "get off his butt today" and immediately replace the ancient helicopters.

"I wish I was able to wave a magic wand and cause that to happen," Mr. McCallum responded. "In the real world, un Weather disasters jump tenfold in 40 years: report Cauchon in contempt over gun registry: MP the U.S. would target citizens of countries that have terrorist networks. But he doesn't think the scrutiny should extend to Canadians.

Several Canadians of Arab descent have complained of holdups and interrogations at the border. "We don't think Canadians who have passed security muster should be discriminated against," said Mr. Boehm. Although the conference was held on Capitol Hill, most of the approximately 50 participants were Canadian, highlighting a problem in trying to educate Americans about Canada. One participant suggested that Canada should open a "propaganda office" in the United States.

Another noted that Congress's nine-year-old northern border caucus has never travelled to Canada. regions showed significant success in minimizing the impact of floods when everyone in the possible line of destruction knew what was going on. In one success story in Honduras, people living upstream of the so-called small rivers' system learned to radio to their downstream counterparts as soon as it started to rain and the river waters began to rise. "It can be as simple as that," Mr. Cosgrove said.

"But there is not enough of it going on." The council's report will be presented next month to a major international conference on problems of climate and water in Kyoto, Japan. Mr. Cosgrove said Canada is as guilty as the next country for not taking advantage of new forecasting tools developed in the past decade to ensure it is better prepared for for natural disasters. Mr. Cosgrove said, for example, not enough attention is being paid to scientific evidence that, as a result of global warming, the glaciers in Northern Canada are melting and the permafrost is thawing, meaning normal runoff from the frozen land is being absorbed and cannot feed needs elsewhere.

Canadian decisionmakers should be thinking about the impact that will have on water resources management, he said. Still, Mr. Cosgrove argued that Canada is better off than other parts of the world where poverty, overpopulation and geography leave people with fewer options for minimizing the impact of natural disasters and rising sea levels. "There have always been floods and droughts," he said. "But when there weren't so many people around, then the limited water that was available lasted longer.

And people didn't live where they were going to get flooded." The report cites as a positive sign a move by such agencies as the Red Cross to take a more proactive, or even preventative, approach to disaster relief. Instead of merely waiting to react to disasters, they seek to prepare vulnerable communities by introducing forecasting and information-sharing systems. The idea is to give people more time to save themselves and what they can of their der the realities in which we live, one can only do the humanly possible." Mr. McCallum said the government recently has moved to expedite the process of awarding a contract for new helicopters "and obtain that replacement as quickly as we possibly can. But that is all I can do." While the Sea Kings are old, he insisted they are safe, having been modernized, until replacements are purchased.

An investigation by the directorate of flight safety, a branch of the air force, was immediately ordered yesterday. Gen. Ray Henault, chief of the defence staff, said the helicopter had recently received an upgrade, part of the $8o-million plan to keep the 40-year-old helicopters flying while the government tries to replace them. The upgrade included a new engine. Gen.

Henault said preliminary reports indicate the dam-' age to the back deck of the Jro-. quois was not substantial. "We are doing an operational assessment to determine what we can do to turn the Iroquois around again, to see whether or not we would send it out with another helicopter on board and prepare that and get it going," he said. geting illegal guns. $16 million to other departments and partners.

$14.4 million to keep running the current computer system and related operations. $9.2 million for administration. The remainder on other ex-! penses including employee benefits and accommodation. Mr. Williams noted former justice minister Anne McLellan, now health minister, was forced to apologize to the Commons in 2001 when the Justice Department briefed the media about major changes to the Firearms Act before they were tabled in the Commons.

But Government House leader Don Boudria ar-, gued it is customary for cabinet ministers to have information about legislation or policy that is not included in documents they table in the House. 70 OFF ferred only to a planned expenditure of $18 million on the firearms program, in the form of contributions to five provincial governments participating in the registry and licensing system. A separate news release from Treasury Board President Luci-enne Robillard, and a more detailed release from Mr. Cauchon's department, identified $113 million to be spent on the program over the next year, bringing the total spent on the registry and licensing system to $900 million by 2004. As well, supplementary estimates contained a further $59 million the Justice Department wants Parliament to approve to cover current spending, including expenses mounting since the Commons agreed to withdraw a request for supplementary funds last December.

The decision was taken after Auditor General Sheila Fraser released a scathing report about the mounting cost of the program and accused the Justice Department of having hidden the complete costs from Parliament after the licensing system took effect in 1998. Mr. Cauchon's news release stated that over the next 12 months the Canadian Firearms Centre will spend: $21.5 million developing a new computer system. $8 million to operate the central registry in Miramichi, N.B. $16 million in contributions to provinces that are administering the program.

$11.4 million to operate federal firearms offices in the five provinces that have opted out of the program $4.6 million on a national weapons enforcement team tar New efforts urged to mitigate human, economic damage BY NORMA GREENAWAY The economic toll of floods, droughts and other weather-related disasters has increased almost tenfold in the past four decades, a devastating pattern that must be halted with more aggressive efforts to mitigate the damage, a new report says. The report of the World Water Council, released yesterday, says increasingly rapid and extreme climate changes point to a future of intensified natural disasters that will result in more human and economic misery in many parts of the world unless action is taken. From 1971 to 1995, floods affected more than 1.5 billion people worldwide, or 100 million people a year, according to the The economic costs rose to an estimated $300 billion U.S. in the 1990s from $35 billion in the 1960s. council, a France-based international think-tank.

An estimated 318,000 were killed and more than 18 million were left homeless, said the report, which also cited UN forecasts that predict one-half of the world's population will be living in areas at risk from storms and other weather extremes by 2025. The economic costs rose to an estimated $300 billion U.S. in the 1990s, up from about $35 billion in the 1960s. William Cosgrove, vice-president of the council and a Montreal-based water consultant, says better monitoring on the ground and a no-holds-barred approach to information sharing among governments, water scientists, climatologists and water managers are key to keeping a lid on the devastation. "Global warming is not the main culprit," he said in an interview.

"The main problem is that we're not managing well the floods and droughts of today." A pilot project involving 18 Firearms program spending details released to media ByTimNaumetz The Canadian Alliance said yesterday Justice Minister Martin Cauchon is in contempt of Parliament for giving the media details about planned spending on the federal firearms registry a month before they are to be tabled in the Commons. Alliance MP John Williams, chairman of the public accounts committee, made the allegation after Mr. Cauchon's press secretary distributed the information to reporters when the government's spending estimates were tabled in the Commons the previous day. The government estimates re 0OSS 1 Finally, the most BUGRLANDS FINE CLOTHING beautiful music FINAL ft LEARANCE UP TO very little talk ROGERS CABLE 98.5 FALL WINTER FASHIONS SPRING STYLES ARRIVING DAILY 722 Bank Stieet oncanadaoom Online at DRIVING and every Friday in axvj. in vj the ottawa citizen (Hank at Hirst) ()un Ind.iys til 9 p.m.

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