Paris attacks: Canada sees no reason to raise threat level
Canada's threat level has been at 'medium' since last October
There's no reason to raise Canada's threat level, even in the wake of the deadly attacks in Paris last week, says Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale.
The minister appeared at a news conference — flanked by key security officials — to assure Canadians that authorities are being especially vigilant and doing everything possible to keep the public safe.
The threat level has remained at "medium" since October 2014.
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Canadian Security Intelligence Service director Michel Coulombe and RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson said they had found no Canadian links to the assaults in France by militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant that killed some 129 people and wounded hundreds of others.
Officials also stressed that the thousands of refugees Canada has agreed to accept from strife-torn Syria would undergo thorough security checks.
Goodale urged people to be alert following the Paris attacks, but said Canada is basically safe and peaceful.
The minister said now is not the time for what he called "vigilante retribution" — a reference to a deliberately set fire at an Ontario mosque and an assault against a veiled woman in Toronto.
"Now more than ever is a time for all of us to support our fellow citizens. We need to demonstrate to each other and to the world our values of diversity and inclusion," Goodale said.
"Canadians will stand together and face these times with skill, with resolve, courage and fortitude. Terrorists will not change our values or the quality of Canadian life."
In the days ahead we will continue to take every possible step to keep Canadians safe, and do so "in a way that respects our national character," he said.
Screening of Syrian refugees
The RCMP has been working with French authorities and partners around the world to help out "where we can," said Paulson.
French authorities, through Interpol and the RCMP's liaison officers in Paris, have provided fingerprints, DNA and biographical data linked to the attacks for checks against Canadian databases, he added.
"All checks to date have been negative."
Coulombe said CSIS was also working to identify any potential Canadian nexus to the attacks. "So far we have not confirmed anything in this regard."
If the attacks were planned in Syria, it would mark the first time ISIL had carried out such an assault on the West from afar, said Coulombe, but he cautioned: "It's too early to draw firm conclusions."
The intelligence director said CSIS was involved in planning the screening of Syrian refugees and "the measures in place are robust."
Goodale promised the checks carried out by Canadian agencies would be thorough. "We want to ensure that the quality of the security work at the end of the day is strong and effective."
The Liberal government has promised to rewrite what it calls "problematic elements" of Bill C-51, the omnibus security legislation brought in by the Conservatives following two jihadi-inspired attacks on soldiers.
For instance, the new government plans to ensure all CSIS warrants respect the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. This would roll back new provisions allowing the spy service to disrupt terror plots through tactics that breach the charter as long as a judge approves.
Goodale reiterated the government's promise of "an open public consultation with Canadians about how we achieve the right combination of security measures with the defence of Canadian values and freedoms."
"And there is no inconsistency between those two things."