MONTREAL — Prime Minister Stephen Harper says there is “no legitimate reason of any kind” for any Canadian to become involved in jihadist or terrorist movements.
Harper was in Montreal on Thursday to announce additional resources for the RCMP and the Canada Border Services Agency in the fight against terrorism.
The RCMP will receive $150.4 million in new money over five years, beginning in 2015-16, and $46.8 million a year after, with the money going to help the Mounties conduct terrorism-related criminal investigations.
The border-services agency will get $5.4 million over five years and $1.1 million annually in subsequent years, with some of the funds earmarked for identifying high-risk travellers.
Harper was speaking at Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport, where 10 youths were arrested last weekend after being suspected of wanting to leave Canada to join jihadist groups.
“Obviously we have great sympathy for the families affected but let us be clear: we have a great country here, we have a country that is unparalleled in terms of its freedom, its democracy, its openness and its tolerance,” the prime minister told reporters after making his announcement.
“And there is no legitimate reason of any kind in this country for someone to become a violent jihadist or a terrorist or to join any kind of group that is involved or advocates that kind of activity.
“It is totally unacceptable to Canada and Canadians and unacceptable to this government.”
Violent jihadism is not a future trend but a current reality in Canada and around the world, Harper said, adding that the extra funds being allocated will be important in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.
“The reason the international community has intervened in Iraq is the serious threat that ISIS poses…We’ve had some successes but at the same time it is no secret this is an ongoing battle, this organization poses a great threat and continues to pose a great threat, obviously to security in Iraq and Syria.
“But as long as it has a substantial territory it is occupying, it will want to use that as a base from which to launch terrorist attacks against this country.
“That is its stated objective.”