Friday, June 9, 2006

Offending Canada

Rep. John Hostettler (R-IN), not content with being just a home-grown tightie-rightie, manages to offend about the only ally we have left.

A U.S. congressman warned yesterday that Canada, and in particular the enclave of “South Toronto,” was a breeding ground for Islamic terrorists and that the United States will be under threat as long as passports are not required of all Canadians crossing the border.

“South Toronto, like those parts of London that are host to the radical imams who influenced the 9/11 terrorists and the shoe bomber, has people who adhere to a militant understanding of Islam,” said John Hostettler, chairman of the House of Representatives subcommittee on immigration and border security, noting that Toronto has a very large South Asian community.

Later, when asked by reporters to describe “South Toronto” in greater detail, Mr. Hostettler said it was “a location which I understand is the type of enclave that allows for this radical type of discussion to go on.”

The Indiana Republican painted a picture of Canada as a hotbed of Islamic extremists intent on inflicting their terrorist damage on their southern neighbours while Canadians sat in blissful ignorance of the danger in their midst.

“It is fair to say that the Canadian border is virtually unguarded,” Mr. Hostettler said. “Canadians, as well as those [who are] imposters pretending to be Canadians or returning American tourists, roll through our border ports of entry with little or no document inspections.”


Mr. Hostettler, a 44-year-old engineer who was first elected in 1995, is a stalwart of the Christian right and a fierce opponent of abortion and same-sex marriage. Last year, he accused Democratic members of Congress of “demonizing Christians” after a Wisconsin Democrat alleged that there was “abusive religious proselytizing” at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado.

He was arrested in 2004 when he was caught carrying a loaded handgun at Louisville, Ky., airport. He later pleaded guilty to carrying a concealed weapon and received a 60-day sentence, which he will not have to serve if he keeps out of trouble before August of this year.

The RCMP managed to arrest those seventeen suspects after keeping them under surveillance for over two years without violating Canadian law or the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and without demonizing the substantial Muslim community in Canada. Yet that’s not good enough for a gun-totin’ Jesus-shouter from Indiana.

The Canadians are not amused. CBC Radio referred to Mr. Hostettler as a “little-known guy from a far-flung district you’ll never visit,” and chalked it up to election-year politics, while pointing out that Canada has been a strong ally in the war on terror, including cooperating on border security.

I hope the next time Mr. Hostettler decides to visit Canada, they give him a full body-cavity search at Customs. I have a fishing pole they can borrow.