Canadians who go abroad to commit terrorism – predominantly jihadists, in other words – have a "right to return" according to government documents obtained by Global News. They not only have a right of return, but "... even if a Canadian engaged in terrorist activity abroad, the government must facilitate their return to Canada," as one document says.
According to the government, there are still around 190 Canadian citizens volunteering as terrorists abroad. The majority are in Syria and Iraq, and 60 have returned. Police are reportedly expecting a new influx of returnees over the next couple of months.
The Canadian government is willing to go to great (and presumably costly) lengths to "facilitate" the return of Canadian jihadists, unlike the UK, for example, which has revoked the citizenship of ISIS fighters so they cannot return. The Canadian government has established a taskforce, the High Risk Returnee Interdepartmental Taskforce, that, according to government documents:
"... allows us to collectively identify what measures can mitigate the threat these individuals may pose during their return to Canada. This could include sending officers overseas to collect evidence before they depart, or their detention by police upon arrival in Canada."
Undercover officers may also be used "to engage with the HRT [High Risk Traveler] to collect evidence, or monitor them during their flight home."
In the sanitizing Orwellian newspeak employed by the Canadian government, the terrorists are not jihadis who left Canada to commit the most heinous crimes, such as torture, rape and murder, while fighting for ISIS in Syria and Iraq, but "High Risk Travelers" and "High Risk Returnees".
The government is fully aware of the security risk to which it is subjecting Canadians: According to the documents, "HRRs [High Risk Returnees] can pose a significant threat to the national security of Canada". This fact raises the question of why the government of Canada is keen to facilitate these people's "right of return" -- when presumably the primary obligation of the government is to safeguard the security of law-abiding Canadian citizens.
The government also does not appear hopeful that the returning terrorists will face criminal charges. By the end of 2017, the Trudeau government had only charged two returned ISIS fighters, and Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said at the time, "This is an issue that is bedeviling countries around the world in terms of how you actually... move from intelligence to evidence and make a case stick".
The documents describe terrorism cases as "complex and resource intensive," citing the difficulties of terrorism investigations and caution that "there may not be sufficient evidence for charges", and that, therefore, the government will have to "mitigate the threat through efforts outside the criminal justice system."
Such efforts might include sending an "intervention team" that can "engage with the returnee and the returnee's family to open up dialogue with the individual and to help support the returnee's disengagement from their radical ideology and past behavior... While they may have engaged in terrorism abroad and broken the law, not all returnees continue to post [sic] a threat — they may now be disillusioned with the cause" or "...may no longer be interested in violence."
How comforting for Canadians that their government is pandering to terrorists while pretending that there is a chance that returning jihadis will suddenly change their ways.
Attempts at deradicalization elsewhere have frequently turned out to be ineffective. In the UK, for example, a new government report shows that the vast majority of deradicalization programs are not only ineffective, but even counterproductive, and that those tasked with executing the programs "...would refuse to engage in topics over fears of bringing up matters of race and religion without appearing discriminatory". In France, the country's first and only deradicalization center closed in September 2017 after just one year, without having "deradicalized" a single individual. On the contrary, three participants reportedly behaved as if the center were a "Jihad academy".
The Canadian government is willing to go to great lengths to "facilitate" the return of Canadian jihadists. But attempts at deradicalization in Western countries have frequently turned out to be ineffective. In France, the country's first and only deradicalization center (pictured) closed in September 2017 without having "deradicalized" a single individual. (Image source: 28 minutes - ARTE video screenshot)
Some members of the Canadian government are evidently aware of the near-futility of such deradicalization efforts. In November 2017, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said "You have to prevent the problem before it exists. Once a person has been in a war zone, once they've been actively engaged in terrorist-related activities, the capacity to turn them around is pretty remote."
These facts, however, are unlikely to bother Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who appears to compare returning ISIS fighters to Italian and Greek immigrants who settled in Montreal in the post war years. Trudeau has said, "We know that actually someone who has engaged and turned away from ... hateful ideology can be an extraordinarily powerful voice for preventing radicalization" -- but he appears to disregard the evidence that few actually turn away from jihadism.
Perhaps the Trudeau government simply cares more for jihadists and Islamists than for Canada. In early May, the Toronto Sun revealed that the Muslim Association of Canada (MAC), which has ties to terrorist organizations, would receive 10 grants from the government's Canada Summer Jobs Grant to fund its activities across Ontario.
According to the Toronto Sun, "MAC provided $296,514 between 2001 and 2010" to IRFAN-Canada. Within that period, from 2005 and 2009, "IRFAN-Canada transferred approximately $14.6 million worth of resources to various organizations associated with Hamas". Both MAC and IRFAN-Canada are considered linked to the Muslim Brotherhood. In 2014, Canada's government under Prime Minister Stephen Harper designated IRFAN-Canada a terrorist entity.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's government is facilitating the return of ISIS terrorists and granting government funds to Islamist organizations who end up funding banned terrorist groups. So, whose interests is the Canadian government really looking out for?
Judith Bergman is a columnist, lawyer and political analyst.
 Canada Summer Jobs (CSJ), according to the government website, provides wage subsidies to employers to create employment for secondary and post-secondary students. It welcomes applications from small businesses, not-for-profit employers, public sector and faith-based organizations that provide quality summer jobs for students.