Terrorism in the Modern Age: the Event and the Response
The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 8 Nov 2001, p. 182-193
Inkster, Norman D., Speaker
Media Type
Item Type
A definition of terrorism. The Air India bombing. The events of 9/11. The challenge for authorities. A discussion as to why law enforcement did not act sooner, with some illustrative examples. The different structure of law enforcement agencies in Canada. The basic question: How are we to deal with terrorism and terrorists in a free and democratic society? Some practical answers. Several principles in "Rethinking Our Borders." How the terrorists have already won a major and enduring victory.
Date of Original
8 Nov 2001
Language of Item
Geographic Coverage
  • Ontario, Canada
    Latitude: 43.70011 Longitude: -79.4163
Copyright Statement
The speeches are free of charge but please note that the Empire Club of Canada retains copyright. Neither the speeches themselves nor any part of their content may be used for any purpose other than personal interest or research without the explicit permission of the Empire Club of Canada.
Empire Club of Canada
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Fairmont Royal York Hotel

100 Front Street West, Floor H

Toronto, ON, M5J 1E3

Full Text
Norman D. Inkster
President, KPMG Investigation and Security Inc.
Chairman: Bill Laidlaw
President, The Empire Club of Canada

Head Table Guests

George D. Anderson, President and CEO, Insurance Bureau of Canada and Director, The Empire Club of Canada; The Rev. Prue Chambers, St. Nicholas Anglican Church, Birchcliffe; Nirupa Varatharasan, Student, Student Council Member, Western Technical Commercial School; Stephen Vaughan, Partner, Aird & Berlis; John Phelan, President and CEO, Munich Reinsurance Company of Canada; Bob Widdowson, National Partner in Charge, Information Risk Management, KPMG LLP; George L. Cooke, President and CEO, The Dominion of Canada General Insurance Company and Chieftain Insurance and Past President, The Empire Club of Canada; Christian Cassebaum, President and CEO, Allianz Canada; Francine Blackburn, Senior Vice-President and Chief Internal Auditor, Royal Bank of Canada Internal Audit Services; and Dick Freeborough, Partner, National Director, Insurance Industry Practice, KPMG.

Introduction by Bill Laidlaw

Over the last two months I don't feel that one day goes by without us thinking about the events of September 11. Of course we now have the added fears of anthrax and other forms of bio-terrorism.

Before September 11, I do not believe any of us felt that an action against the World Trade Center would happen. I know I was lulled into a belief that everything was okay and that our governments and those individuals entrusted with our security would take care of things. Disasters involving terrorism happened in Ireland, Israel, Palestine… anywhere else but here. How wrong we were.

Today we have become more aware of terrorism and our abilities to prevent it than ever before. We watch it every night on CNN and CBC. It has dominated our lives and changed them forever.

The big question now is: Are we prepared in Canada? What are our governments doing to get us prepared and when will we be ready? What roles do we play? What happens if an event happens in Toronto, Montreal or Vancouver like the one in New York City?

Today we are fortunate enough to have as our guest speaker an expert on this subject.

Norman is currently the President of KPMG Investigation and Security Inc. KPMG Security offers a comprehensive range of investigative services for Canadian businesses.

Prior to joining KPMG, Norm enjoyed a lengthy and successful career with the RCMP. His career with the RCMP began back in 1957 when he was posted to Alberta. Following several years of police duties he was transferred to RCMP headquarters in Ottawa. There he was engaged in organisational and personnel-related functions.

In 1978 he was appointed Officer Commanding for the Montreal Subdivision and in 1980 he became Officer in Charge, Staffing and Personnel Branch for Officers.

Throughout the 1980s and early 90s Norman moved through various commanding posts within the RCMP. Some of the posts he has held include Commanding Officer, Director, Organization and Personnel, Deputy Commissioner, Criminal Operations and in 1997 he was appointed Commissioner, with responsibility for the RCMP's policies, affairs and conduct of its 22,000 staff.

He retired from the RCMP in 1994 and accepted a position as partner with KPMG here in Toronto.

Norman's professional accomplishments include receiving the Queen's Silver Jubilee medal, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police long-service medal, the Order of St. John of Jerusalem and the Award for Excellence in Race Relations from the Minister of Multiculturalism and Citizenship Canada. He was also named as an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1996.

Please join me in welcoming Norman Inkster, our luncheon guest today.

Norman Inkster

Terror is defined as extreme fear. A terrorist is someone who favours violent and intimidating methods of coercing a government or a community while wreaking havoc as a consequence.

One of the realities brought home to me and I suspect to others around the world following the events of September 11--a day of infamy--is how, over the past 20 or so years, the terms terrorist and terrorism rolled off our tongues with such ease.

In North America, and in particular in Canada, terrorism was something that happened to others. Complacency has allowed us to forget the FLQ crisis (which resulted in the application of the War Measures Act and the murder of Pierre Laporte) and the bombings in Narita which killed two baggage handlers as well as the bombing of Air India off the coast of Ireland which resulted in the deaths of 329 innocent souls. Both of these bombings were events which were probably planned in Canada but most certainly actioned from Canadian soil by people here enjoying the liberties of Canada while attempting to solve problems, real or perceived, in their homelands. One person's freedom fighter is another person's terrorist.

We will recall that Mr. Reyat, who had fled Canada to the U.K., was charged, arrested, extradited, tried and convicted of the Narita bombing. He is now facing charges with respect to the bombing of Air India. His alleged accomplice, Mr. Parmar, was killed in the Punjab.

At that time, the Air India bombing was the single most deadly terrorist act involving an airline in history. In light of the events of September 11, it now, sadly, pales by comparison.

If we take a moment to reflect on the terrorist acts that have occurred in what might be defined as the modern age, we have heard or read of nothing which compares even remotely with the events of September 11, 2001. In material I have read that is written by the foremost experts on terrorism, none--not one--contemplated that terrorists would hijack a plane and turn the aircraft into a fuel-laden, airborne bomb and fly it into a skyscraper in one of the largest and most sophisticated cities of the world while calming the passengers, we suspect, into believing it was a normal hijacking incident. Imagine even thinking that hijacking can be "normal."

In terms of what terrorists might or might not do, all bets are off. It is time to start thinking outside the box. September 11, 2001 ushered in the new age of terrorism. Aside from using the aircraft in the manner in which they did, they also demonstrated that every country in the world is vulnerable to attack. The message is clear that whatever protection we felt we might have had, by virtue of North America being separated from off-shore disputes by miles of ocean, no long offers comfort.

We should also take a minute to think through and to some degree speculate on what happened and more importantly to contemplate what might be done to bring the individuals to justice while returning North America to normalcy and security--whatever those terms mean now and in the future.

First the event. I suspect that no other tragedy in the history of the world so captured the minds and attentions of every living soul. The images, which flashed around the world of the two aircraft slamming into the twin towers of the World Trade Center and the gaping hole at the Pentagon, are forever etched on our memories. Two symbols of American might and affluence--the World Trade Center Towers and the Pentagon--were successfully attacked by terrorists probably operating out of Afghanistan. The unspeakable horror of what occurred has defied adequate description.

In the 20 minutes of attack on the World Trade Center more casualties were caused than by the World War II bombings of Rotterdam and the attack on Pearl Harbor combined. The combined losses in those two World War II events approximated 3,200 people while the losses of September 11 are close to 6,000. For the first time in history the North American continent was attacked successfully. Fifteen thousand children lost one or more parents. It is little wonder that our confidence has been shaken and our complacency has disappeared.

While the facts are yet to be known, it would be quite reasonable to conclude that the level of planning in the attack was so precise as to achieve maximum media coverage by staging the crashes 20 minutes apart. Whether deliberately planned or not, the terrorists achieved worldwide media coverage and, in keeping with their goal, inflicted terror on us all.

The challenge for authorities, in addition to hunting down those responsible, will also be to examine what if anything went wrong with the early warning systems. Why was there no warning that something of this magnitude was being planned? Is it possible that indicators were overlooked, fell between the cracks or were not taken seriously? As we know, some U.S. authorities were quick to point an accusing finger at Canada, suggesting the perpetrators entered the U.S.A. from Canada. While it is true that our immigration system is less than perfect, it is not Canadian Immigration that allows people into the U.S.A.; that is a U.S.A. responsibility. While finger pointing will continue, I firmly believe that the biggest failure of all was in the world of intelligence--a failure that is both possible and probably understandable.

Once all of the fact-gathering is finished and there has been sufficient time for a thorough investigation and analysis, the events of September 11 will be characterised, I believe, as an intelligence failure for the United States. It is evident from the early days of the investigation that a great deal of information was known about the hijackers and their co-conspirators. Evidence of this knowledge was demonstrated in the ability of the authorities to make a large number of arrests and detentions in the wake of the attack. If law enforcement authorities did not have names and addresses of suspects such swift action would not have been possible.

If the forgoing is true then why did law enforcement not act sooner? To contemplate the response we must first consider who might have had the information.

In the United States there is a great deal of unhelpful competition between and among those agencies who share a law enforcement mandate over a given jurisdiction and/or over the issue of investigating and containing terrorism. In law enforcement like every other aspect of human endeavour, information is power which leads to the natural reluctance to share information with the "competition." A law enforcement agency's successes leads to higher profiles and strengthens the possibility that lobbying efforts on Capital Hill will result in Congress supporting requests for increased funding. The division of power is fundamental to the American Constitution.

Let me give you one example from the American's War on Drugs. The primary mandate of the Drug Enforcement Agency is the interdiction of the illicit drug trade. The FBI see it as its domain as well, because the mandate of the FBI is organised crime and organised crime is involved in the drug trade. U.S. Customs have drug interdiction as a primary concern as it is its job to prevent contraband and illicit goods from entering the country. Alcohol; Firearms and Tobacco have drugs as a top priority because of the prevalence of weaponry among drug dealers. Then there is the CIA, that feels that drugs and the proceeds of drug sales could undermine the financial infrastructure of the U.S.A. There is also the IRS who are interested in the proceeds of drug sales. At one time there were 17 different federal agencies in the U.S.A. who did the same work as the RCMP in Canada. When competing for limited budget dollars, success and a high profile can be influential in determining which agency is favoured by budget increases. So why help the other guy?

Fortunately in Canada this level and sort of competition between agencies is much less. That is not to suggest that there has not been tension between the RCMP and CSIS in the past over the timely sharing of information. To understand this tension we must also appreciate the different but complementary roles of the two agencies. There is no law in Canada against terrorism, but there is the problem of terrorism and terrorists, and in pursuit of these concerns Parliament in its wisdom has given the RCMP and CSIS a shared mandate. CSIS officers are not peace officers and they do not have the powers of arrest unlike the RCMP and other Canadian police services. If the police do their work well then everything they learn eventually becomes public in a court of law. With CSIS, on the other hand, if they do their work well, their information will never, and should never, become public. One can quickly recognise therefore the inherent reluctance on the part of CSIS or any other security service to share information with the police. There is clearly an important and delicate balance to be achieved.

The most confounding question is: How are we to deal with terrorism and terrorists in a free and democratic society? There is no simple answer and I do not for a moment envy the challenges facing our legislators. If we do not get the balance right as between our civil liberties and the power of the state then we run the very real risk of handing the terrorists a victory. That being said, however, I firmly believe that as a consequence of September 11, the balance has shifted a bit. I suspect that most Canadians will now accept a bit more oversight and a bit more inconvenience in the interests of safety.

We can anticipate that such things as identity cards with our fingerprint and our photograph on both sides, retina scans, as well as voice recognition and facial imaging are all being considered for various applications in designing safety measures. While such measures might have offended the majority of us in the past, I do believe that our attitudes have changed and that most of us will accept this added scrutiny in the interests of our own security and that of others. Today, as we wander about the complexes of downtown Toronto, I would venture that our photographs are being captured a hundred or more times. Big Brother has been watching for some time.

The reaction in the U.S.A., followed by the reaction of many other national leaders around the world, was to declare a war on terrorism. President Bush has said that we are either part of the solution or we are part of the problem. Once we have declared war (although not in the normal sense), we invoke many of the trappings that a normal declaration of war entails.

But how do we engage in a war against terrorists? Who is the enemy and how will we recognise them? Where is the enemy? What are the strategic objectives of this war? How will we know if we have won? Will someone surrender and a truce be declared?

While these are all challenging and important questions, the reality is that the U.S.A. and its allies had no choice but to address the problem in the manner in which they have. While the investigation of terrorist acts is fundamentally a law enforcement responsibility, one cannot conceive of any law enforcement agency being successful in an investigation of Osama bin Laden and other members of al-Qaeda.

One of the fundamental principles of democracy, however, is the rule of law. And, unequivocally, the rule of law must prevail in this war with the offenders being brought to justice and standing trial in an appropriate jurisdiction. Killing bin Laden will solve nothing as there are a hundred more just like him willing to take his place and die for the cause. Having dealt with those guilty of the events of September 11, we will also need to find an effective way of dealing with the causes of terrorism if an enduring peace and a secure world is to be achieved.

So what do we do? First, to repeat, the rule of law must prevail in these circumstances as it has in all other similar situations where terrorist bombings and murders have occurred. If we resort to the ways of the terrorists, they win and we lose.

What is essential in all of this is that we must become much better prepared and equipped to deal with terrorism in a pre-emptive way. We must examine our own readiness to deal with terrorists and terrorist organisations with representatives in Canada. To put this issue in some context, for several years now CSIS has publicly reported that it is aware of about 50 terrorist organisations in Canada and about 350 people with ties to or who are supporters of terrorist organisations. Prior to September 11 these reports seemed to fall on the deaf ears of parliamentarians, other Canadian leaders and the public. We have even allowed such people to solicit monies in Canada for their causes and for that money to be sent to various homelands in support of terrorist activities.

While I am confident that information of a planned criminal event in Canada by any of these suspect individuals was shared with the police, the sad reality is that, in the absence of evidence that a conspiracy to commit a crime was in place, little could be done by the police under the existing law. The proposed pre-emptive detention provision of the new legislation is an attempt to address this concern.

Very few tools are available to the police allowing them to act in the absence of reasonable and probable grounds that a crime has been committed or is about to occur. There is no provision for the police to open mail under a judicial warrant. Decisions from the Supreme Court of Canada have so restricted the actions of the police that, with respect to wire taps, the law now obliges the police to document in minute detail why such intrusive measures are warranted and why all other forms of investigation have failed or would fail. Affidavits to back up a search warrant or wire tap, which were once several pages long are now more likely to be 80 to 100 pages in length. While approval of a search warrant by telephone is available, such approval is reserved for the most exigent of circumstances.

We need to examine the powers available to the police in the light of September 11 so that they can effectively investigate and detain suspects in a timely way while having available pre-emptive measures that can prevent tragedies from occurring in the first place. While bringing a criminal to justice with the courts determining innocence or guilt can bring the satisfaction of a job well done, nothing can replace the elation of knowing that appropriate pre-emptive measures prevented the loss of even one life.

From an entirely different perspective, we cannot afford--afford in the very real sense of the term--not to take strong measures to bring terrorism under control. September 11 virtually brought commerce to a standstill as planes stopped flying, vacationers stayed home, and conference and business travel was cancelled. The cascading influence of September 11 will be felt throughout the world economy for months if not years to come. The event plus a soft economy has caused countless businesses to fail and has resulted in thousands of layoffs.

The efficiency of just-in-time deliveries is a thing of the past while trucks wait hours to cross the border as our cross-border trade of $1.2 billion daily slows to a trickle. Experts tell us that the insurance claims from September 11 will range from $40 billion to $100 billion and our insurance premiums are going to skyrocket as a consequence.

The challenge for all of us and our political leaders in particular is to determine what measures are reasonable, practical and doable under the circumstances. While not providing a panacea, I am a strong proponent for a secure North American perimeter. Such a measure would not in my opinion necessitate that we succumb to U.S. laws and policies. It would oblige us to ensure that the processes that make the laws and policies work are done to a mutually acceptable standard and that they work in concert. Harmonisation is not a four-letter word. Other countries have put such measures in place successfully, so why can't we?

September 11 highlighted weaknesses on both sides of the 49th parallel. Successful commercial relationships will require that we achieve confidence in one another's processes to allow for the free flow of goods between Canada and the U.S.A. We cannot afford to do otherwise.

In spite of the weaknesses and gaps in our system, I am comfortable stating that we are well prepared in this country to deal with terrorists. I am even more confident that we will be much better prepared in the months ahead as the budgets of the police and other agencies are increased and new laws are put in place to allow all to act efficiently and effectively while maintaining the rule of law. I am also confident that a shared level of confidence between Canada and the U.S.A. will be achieved as commonsense prevails.

Out of all of this come some fundamental business truths. In a document entitled "Rethinking Our Borders," published by the Coalition for Secure and Trade-Efficient Borders, several principles are set out which now seem to be self-evident:

• The security of Canadians and Americans is paramount;

• Security and trade are linked; • Collaboration is essential;

• Technology is an essential tool;

• Solutions must be bilateral in nature;

• Solutions must be balanced, workable and predictable; and

• The time for action is now.

Security has always been everyone's responsibility and certainly never more so than now. We need to ask ourselves whether or not we are prepared should the buildings in which our businesses are located disappear. How we resurrect damaged or destroyed communication systems and computer links, how we locate and inform staff, how we get back into business have all become very real and legitimate concerns deserving of our immediate attention.

The battle against terrorism will take time and perseverance. There is no prospect of a simple solution, especially since the root causes behind these terrorist acts are unlikely to be removed by military action alone. Inevitably, therefore, the issue of terrorism will impact upon our political, social and economic environment for a long time to come.

And that means that the terrorists have already won a major and enduring victory.

Thank you.

The appreciation of the meeting was expressed by George D. Anderson, President and CEO, Insurance Bureau of Canada and Director, The Empire Club of Canada.

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Terrorism in the Modern Age: the Event and the Response

A definition of terrorism. The Air India bombing. The events of 9/11. The challenge for authorities. A discussion as to why law enforcement did not act sooner, with some illustrative examples. The different structure of law enforcement agencies in Canada. The basic question: How are we to deal with terrorism and terrorists in a free and democratic society? Some practical answers. Several principles in "Rethinking Our Borders." How the terrorists have already won a major and enduring victory.