- The Washington Times - Monday, April 4, 2005

Defending Canada

Canada’s new ambassador is proving to be both an active and an aggressive diplomat, as he displayed with his passionate defense of Canada in a recent television appearance.

Frank McKenna, Canada’s first politically appointed ambassador to the United States, dismissed newspaper reports that accused Canada of having a terrorist-friendly border.

He told C-SPAN last week that Canada had spent more than $10 billion to secure its border with the United States, and complained of an “urban myth” created by repeated claims that the September 11 terrorists slipped across the border.

“The one thing that I want to attack directly is this fiction that’s taken on almost the status of urban myth that any of the terrorists involved in 9/11, that horrible tragedy, came from Canada,” Mr. McKenna said.

“That is categorically not true. We have not had terrorists pass the border from Canada into the United States associated with that event.”

The 19 terrorists who in 2001 attacked the World Trade Center and the Pentagon with hijacked planes and crashed another plane into a Pennsylvania field were all in the United States on various types of visas, some of which had expired.

The confusion might center on the so-called “millennium plot” that involved an Algerian terrorist who entered Canada in 1994 on a fake passport and evaded authorities for five years. Ahmed Ressam masterminded a plan to bomb the Los Angeles International Airport in December 1999, but U.S. customs agents caught him near Seattle after he left Vancouver. He later was convicted of terrorism, smuggling explosives and lying to customs officials.

Mr. McKenna noted that close cooperation between U.S. and Canadian authorities has maintained security along the world’s longest undefended border, which also has the world’s most active bilateral trade.

He noted that a truck crosses the border almost every second, and 200 million Canadians and Americans visit each other’s country every year.

“Massive amounts of trade are taking place across the border, and yet for all of that, I believe the two governments working together have created as safe a border environment as possibly could be done,” he said.

Mr. McKenna also insisted that the occasional displays of anti-Americanism, even by some members of the Canadian Parliament, do not represent the country as a whole.

“We have a few loose cannons in our country who have said things that could be interpreted as anti-American,” he said. “You’ve had a few, maybe more than a few, loose cannons in the United States as well who have said some pretty nasty things about Canada.”

Mr. McKenna was responding to a question about the behavior of a member of Parliament, Carolyn Parrish, who stomped on a Bush doll on a Canadian Broadcasting Corp. news program before Mr. Bush’s visit to Canada last year.

‘Man of peace’

The death of Pope John Paul II is a loss, not just for Roman Catholics, but for “all those who value peace, freedom and human dignity,” said the acting secretary-general of the Organization of American States.

Luigi R. Einaudi recalled a visit John Paul made to OAS headquarters in 1979, a year after he became pope. The pontiff toured the organization’s office at 17th Street and Constitution Avenue NW and later addressed in Spanish a gathering in the OAS Aztec Garden.

“More than any other pope before him, John Paul II made it his mission to be the personable face of the church around the world,” Mr. Einaudi said.

“Throughout his long life and distinguished papacy, John Paul II enriched the lives of people of all faiths. The world has lost a great statesman and man of peace.”

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail jmorrison@washingtontimes.com.

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