WASHINGTON, D.C. — When President George W. Bush and Prime Minister Jean Chretien meet for lunch later today, the two men will strategize over Canada’s role in the war on terror.
Canada is expected to be praised for its immediate support following the Sept. 11 attacks on the U.S., but political experts say Chretien should also expect to hear some pointed criticism about Canada’s lax immigration and refugee laws while in Washington.
The general consensus in the U.S. is that Canada has become a fund-raising and staging base for international terrorists.
“Anyone who wants to head to our country for the wrong reasons will head to the easiest border to cross. In the past, that often has been Canada,” says Lamar Smith, a Texas Republican who heads a congressional sub-committee on immigration.
While Chretien and others in this country maintain there is no evidence any of the hijackers who commandeered four airliners on Sept. 11 entered the U.S. from Canada, the FBI is continuing to search for any Canadian connection.
The U.S. has sharply intensified inspections and anti-terrorist surveillance along its Canadian and Mexican borders, reshaping the face of two of the most open international frontiers, perhaps even for decades to come.
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