Criminal law, military insufficient in anti-terrorism

May 22, 2003

Canada has placed too much emphasis on criminal law, armed forces and restrictions on refugees as methods to avoid a future terrorist attack, says a new book by a University of Toronto criminal law professor.

"As a society, we tend to go for the 'big guns' of criminal sanction and military force," says Kent Roach, author of September 11: Consequences for Canada. "In terms of anti-terrorism strategy, it is not clear that these are going to prevent another Sept. 11. The terrorist attack on the U.S. was more a failure of security intelligence." Criminal law, he adds, is not the best protection from nuclear or biological terrorism.

The book, published this month by McGill-Queen's University Press, provides a critical assessment of the legal, political, military and foreign policy implications on Canada of the Sept. 11 terrorist attack. Roach says Canada should co-operate with the United States on common border security measures but cautions the government to maintain the right to devise independent policies. For example, if Canada adopted the U.S. National Security Entry and Exit Registration System, this would "undermine Canadian values of equity and multiculturalism."

There are better ways to protect Canadians from terrorism that would result in fewer violations of equality, privacy, equality, due process and liberty, Roach says. These strategies would also avoid racial and religious profiling. For example, he suggests more thorough screening of airline passengers for weapons, better control of nuclear and biological materials and tighter security for buildings and resources such as water and food vulnerable to terrorist attacks.
CONTACT: Professor Kent Roach, Faculty of Law, 416-946-5645, or Sue Toye, U of T public affairs, 416-978-4289,

University of Toronto

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