Saturday, April 08, 2006

Tigers Grabbed By The Tail

No terrorist group in Canada has fallen faster and harder from grace in the government's eyes than the Tamil Tigers.

With the loss of their Liberal protectors who turned a blind eye to their extortion of the Tamil community in Canada in exchange for their cut at party fundraisers and a guaranteed bloc of votes, the Tigers are now officially branded as the gang of murderers and thieves that they always were:

The decision means it will now be a criminal offence to participate in the activities of the Tamil Tigers, formally known as the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, or LTTE, a Sri Lankan separatist group responsible for more than 160 suicide bombings. For example, anyone convicted of financially supporting the Tigers could be imprisoned for up to 10 years.

But while the Tigers were placed on the list, the government stopped short of listing any of the terrorist group's Canadian front organizations.

The Cabinet order will likely have implications both at home and abroad. It will criminalize the Tiger "war taxes" that have long been paid -- both voluntarily and involuntarily -- by some Tamil-Canadians. Also, Canada has the world's largest Sri Lankan Tamil diaspora, estimated at 250,000, and the listing could deal a blow to the Tigers, who are heavily dependent on Canadian and other foreign donors.

"It is estimated that between one and two million dollars are raised annually in Canada, making it one of the largest contributors of funds to the LTTE worldwide," according to a classified CSIS report circulated in 2000. "The LTTE has traditionally raised these monies through the use of fronts groups."

And finally, we have an admission that the Liberals' favouritism towards the Tamil Tigers actually made matters worse over in Sri Lanka.

On three separate occasions, CSIS asked the Cabinet to list the Tigers, most recently a year ago, but the Liberals would not do so, saying they did not want to interfere with Sri Lanka's peace process.

The former Canadian ambassador to Sri Lanka, Martin Collacott, said the previous government's refusal to outlaw the Tigers left the LTTE relatively free to operate in Canada. He said that has actually hindered peace efforts.

"Once Canada designates the Tigers as terrorists and clamps down on their fundraising, they are much more likely to enter into serious negotiations with Colombo," he said.

He said the Liberal position that banning the Tigers would hurt peace efforts was based on partisan political considerations.

"The Tigers and their supporters in Canada and particularly Toronto had become adept at delivering votes from the Tamil community to Liberal candidates at election time," he said.

"And, as long as this support continued, the Liberals were prepared to let the Tigers have virtual free rein to carry out their activities in this country."

The decision brings federal counterterrorism policy in line with the Federal Court of Canada, which has already ruled that the Tamil Tigers qualify as a terrorist group.

You can be sure that the national reputation our Liberal predecessors so prided themselves on defending was dirt in Sri Lanka. Who cared if people were getting shaken down in Toronto to pay for murders in Trincomalee, so long as the votes came in at election time?

The Liberal government didn't just turn a blind eye to the Tamil Tigers; it encouraged them.

What other terrorist organizations in Canada might have received similar encouragement in exchange for votes?

Source: National Post

No comments: