The federal government will make it harder forge identity papers for landed immigrants, and will provide RCMP with additional resources for more staff and improved technology, it announced Friday.
Citizenship and Immigration Minister Elinor Caplan announced Friday plans for $49-million worth of increased security measures, including the introduction of the fraud-resistant "Maple Leaf card" for landed immigrants.
And Solicitor-General Laurence MacAulay announced a $54-million investment to fill existing gaps in security resources and bolster the country's fight against terrorism.
The new cards will come with a magnetic strip of personal information and will replace the easily forged IMM 1000, the paper document now given to landed immigrants. These cards will be tamper-proof, difficult to forge and will have the capability at some point to include biotechnology information such as fingerprints or retina scans.
"The Maple Leaf card," Ms. Caplan said, "will open the door for a new way of life for the thousands and thousands of newcomers that we need to help build Canada."
The minister also announced plans to hire up to 100 new staff to beef up security at ports of entry and that $17-million in new funding has been earmarked for front-end screening of refugee claimants.
Speaking in Niagara Falls, Ms. Caplan said that the federal government will not "allow this border crossing, or any other, be held economic hostage by terrorists. We will not let the terrorists strike at our core values."
Citing more than 8,600 successful deportations in 2000, she said that removals are key to maintaining the security and integrity of the nation's borders. She added that "the government of Canada is immediately stepping up its removal activities."
Meanwhile, Mr. MacAuley announced the additional funding for security efforts at a news conference in Regina Friday along with RCMP Commissioner Giuliano Zaccardelli.
"The new or increased efforts the [RCMP]Commissioner and I are talking about are steps we can take right now or in the very near future to fill resource gaps, bring new technology on line and put more officers to work on national security, especially as it relates to our common borders with the United States," Mr. MacAulay said.
"This investment is a crucial component of our public safety and security program," he said.
Friday's funding announcement follows the federal government's $10-million commitment to the RCMP on Thursday for increased security - bringing the total to $64-million for better technology and more personnel to fight terrorism. Already, 2,000 RCMP personnel have been temporarily re-deployed to deal with security measures following the terrorist attacks, Commissioner Zaccardelli said.
The new funding for the RCMP and the Solicitor General's department will be broken down as follows:
- $9-million will go to the immediate hiring of new staff to support national security enforcement teams and integrated security teams on the U.S. border. The teams, made up of Canadian and American law enforcement officers, are designed to strengthen the border, provide better integration and respond to cross-border criminal activity.
- $35-million will go to improving intelligence and technical equipment.
- $5-million is dedicated for the protection of designated people and sites in Canada. This is in addition to the temporary redeployment of 2,000 RCMP officers to national security duties.
- $4.9-million will be allocated to the Department of the Solicitor General to enhance two networks which are dedicated to improving the detection and prosecution of terrorists, and preparing local and national organizations against terrorist attacks.
These measures are part of the federal government's $250-million package of security measures introduced this week.
Ottawa has gradually rolled out details of the package as part of the federal response to last month's terrorist attacks in the United States.
Transport Minister David Collenette said Thursday that the federal government may buy eye scanners and face-recognition technology that can scrutinize airline passengers in an attempt to weed out known security threats.
He announced $91-million in new antiterrorist security measures aimed largely at airports - including the anticipated special fingerprint scanners, bomb-detection equipment and extra staff - to boost confidence in flying. He also detailed plans to hire about 130 customs officials and ramp up training for airport security staff.
"We encourage everyone to take the plane, in order to show terrorists that we will not give in to their tactics," Mr. Collenette said.
As part of its drive to increase security, Air Canada issued a notice Friday that the airline is clamping down on carry-on luggage. Effective Oct. 13, the airline's policies will come into line with new Federal Aviation Authority regulations in the United States. Passengers will be limited to a single carry-on bag and a single personal item (i.e. purse or briefcase).