Not in Canada

#1
http://cnews.canoe.ca/CNEWS/Canada/2005/07/21/1141372-cp.html

Canada assured of low terror threat
By STEPHEN THORNE AND ALEXANDER PANETTA
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OTTAWA (CP) - Potential terrorists lurk within Canada's borders although there was no specific threat after Thursday's London bombings, the federal safety minister said.

Deputy Prime Minister Anne McLellan urged Canadians to carry on with their lives in the face of what she described as "a new normal" after midday explosions struck London's Underground and a bus. But she repeated a warning to prepare psychologically for a possible strike.

Would-be terrorists walk among us, she said.

"I believe - I know - that there are those in this country who, either alone or with others, might at some point choose to do harm," she said in a conference call from Edmonton.

There was a flurry of activity in the capital and across the country in the hours after the London subway bombings, even as the federal government assured Canadians there was no sign of apparent danger.

The attacks, the second in as many weeks, sent ripples through Canadian transit, security and law enforcement system. Most had not disengaged from the July 7 attacks in the British capital that killed more than 50 people.

But while some transit systems dispatched additional security officers and agencies urged vigilance, McLellan said there was no specific threat.

She said a "new normal" is emerging in western democracies, where citizens are aware they might be targets but still just get on with living.

She said if there were any clear threat to mass-transit systems they would be shut down and Canadians would be alerted.

In the absence of that threat, she said security officials "are remaining vigilant."

But critics weren't buying it.

"The Canadian Press quotes you reassuring Canadians that their government remains vigilant," Ron Moran, head of the Customs Excise Union, wrote in a letter to McLellan.

"Unfortunately, that is not the message customs officers would have me share with media.

"On a daily basis since the first bombings in London and increasingly today, customs officers from across Canada have called my office to inform me that their work site is not in a state of heightened vigilance.

"We are calling on the Canada Border Services Agency to immediately begin development, for implementation as soon as possible, of a national Customs public security policy. Such a policy does not exist and must."

Conservative leader Stephen Harper also chided McLellan.

"I believe we're awfully complacent," he said in Burlington, Ont.

"This unfortunately tends to be the situation until people are actually faced with a terrorist incident. The basic co-ordination of our security agencies has not been done in this country."

More extensive measures have been taken elsewhere, he added.

McLellan said each terrorist strike abroad helps Canadian officials craft speedier responses such as how many transit officers to place on platforms, how many police to bring in and where to use bomb-sniffing dogs.

"Do we hopefully get better and more efficient? The answer is yes," McLellan said.

Al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden declared Canada a "legitimate target" in March 2004. Two months later, an internal RCMP risk assessment noted it was the only country left on his list that had yet to be attacked.

Only one person was reported wounded Thursday in what London authorities described as "serious incidents" reminiscent of four suicide bombings two weeks ago.

Prime Minister Paul Martin was informed immediately after news broke of the incidents, a spokesman said.

Federal officials held a teleconference with municipal transit authorities across the country. Transport Canada advised them to exercise increased vigilance on subways, buses and trains.

"They are operating in a state of heightened vigilance," said Vanessa Vermette at Transport Canada.

She said actions include increased security presence, additional staff patrols and asking people to be vigilant about suspicious or unusual packages or people.

Marilyn Bolton of the Toronto Transit Commission said security was boosted after the last London bombings and can't be stepped up any further.

"In a way we're doing nothing, but we were there already because of the previous incident."

Vancouver Translink's Susan Daynard said that, while vigilant, officials there did not officially boost security.

Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty said he was briefed by the province's commissioner for emergency management a day before the incidents.

"I'd love to be able to give that assurance to Ontarians that it's the kind of thing that would never, ever happen here . . . but we're not."

The Department of National Defence said it was in a state of "heightened vigilance." The Canadian Forces have a graduated system of readiness.

Defence headquarters verified its counterterrorism force's readiness, confirmed its Norad capabilities and alerted the navy on both coasts after the last bombings, said Gen. Rick Hillier, chief of defence staff.

Military spokeswoman Capt. Holly Apostoliuk would not confirm whether similar measures were taken Thursday.
 
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