PHOTO: Alberta Senator Grant Mitchell with the Senate Chamber in the background (from his website).

Conservative Senators on the Upper Chamber’s Standing Committee on National Security and Defence were not interested in the strongest recommendation by police and security experts who testified before the panel, its Liberal Deputy Chair told yesterday.

“We heard over and over again from police that the commitment to outreach is very important,” said Senator Grant Mitchell of Alberta. He recounted the words of one police witness: “We can’t arrest our way out of this problem.”

But the committee’s Conservative members just didn’t want to hear about that, Senator Mitchell said, and indeed their interim report casts doubt on one of the strategies police argue is among the most effective ways to build bridges to communities affected by extremist recruiting and to keep vulnerable young people from involvement.

This shouldn’t really surprise the Liberal Senators – after all, the supposedly tough-on-crime Conservatives also ignored the pleas and advice of police on the matter of the long-gun registry.

The glaring omission was one of the principal reasons the three Liberal Senators on the committee chose to dissent and not endorse the conclusions of the interim report, Senator Mitchell said, although he indicated they hope these deficiencies can be remedied in the committee’s final report.

Partly for that reason, he suggested, he and Senators Colin Kenny and Joseph Day have not yet decided to put their dissent in writing.

However, while Liberal senators are no longer technically part of the third party’s Parliamentary caucus, it seems to me that Liberal leader Justin Trudeau’s qualified support for the Harper Government’s unconstitutional Anti-Terrorism Act, 2015, would make it more difficult for them to take a definitive stand in opposition to the report’s recommendations.

Senator Mitchell also complained that the Conservative Senators made no effort to determine the cost of implementing their long list of recommendations, which would be substantial, and perhaps prohibitive.

Nor were they particularly interested in hearing about the potential impacts of stigmatizing one cultural or religious community, regardless of the motivation, he said.

“Stigmatizing leads to alienation which leads to a big downturn in trust,” he stated.

It should be obvious that this isn’t going to work if your objective is to reduce the threat or terrorism in Canada.

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