Montreal

Stephen Harper puts focus on anti-terrorism at Montreal's Trudeau Airport

Prime Minister Stephen Harper outlined plans to devote money and resources to fighting terrorism at an announcement this afternoon at Montreal's Trudeau Airport.

There is 'no legitimate reason...to become a violent jihadist' in Canada, prime minister says

Prime Minister Stephen Harper speaks during an announcement in Montreal on Thursday, May 21, 2015. (Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press)

Prime Minister Stephen Harper outlined plans to devote money and resources to fighting terrorism at an announcement this afternoon at Montreal's Trudeau Airport.

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,- Prime Minister Stephen Harper

The government is planning to give the RCMP $150 million over five years beginning in 2015-16, saying the money would enhance the organization's "capacity to conduct criminal investigations related to terrorism."

The RCMP would receive $46.8 million annually for that purpose in subsequent years. 

The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) will also get an additional $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.

"The CBSA will use this funding to enhance resources in the following areas: the national High Risk Traveller Team, which supports the RCMP-Joint Operations Centre and CBSA regional intelligence, which supports CBSA operations, as well as the RCMP's Integrated National Security Enforcement Teams," the CBSA said in a statement.

The funding outlined today was previously announced in the federal budget and hasn't yet been passed in Parliament. 

Harper's announcement comes days after the RMCP arrested 10 Montreal youth at the airport. RCMP say they were trying to leave the country to join jihadists in Turkey and Syria.

The young people, mostly minors, were interviewed extensively and released without being charged.

Speaking against a backdrop of trucks, uniformed law-enforcement personnel and a large Canadian flag, Harper said violent jihadism is not a future possibility but is a reality in Canada and around the world. 

"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.

"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."

The announcement was Harper's first in a multi-stop visit in Quebec, where the Conservatives hope to make gains in the fall election.

Later today, Harper will be honoured by Montreal's Jewish Community Council.

with files from The Canadian Press

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