LOCATION/ TORONTO, ON                       

DATE: AUGUST 17, 2010                            

TIME/  15:00                      




During His visit to Toronto on August 17, 2010 the R. Hon. Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada, organized a Round Table discussion with a very limited number of representatives of the ethnic press of Canada. During the session have been discussed with the participants, the Canadian developments and the efforts of the government to control the latest financial crisis. 

The National Ethnic Press and media Council of Canada was represented by the president of the organization Thomas S. Saras.

Below is the full text of this discussions.


RT. HON. STEPHEN HARPER: As you know, the government’s primary concern these days remains the Canadian economy.  We’re coming out of the recession stronger than just about anybody else, but we remain part of a global economy that’s very fragile, so that’s what’s really on top of our minds.  But we’re here to answer what’s ever on your mind. 

MODERATOR: We will have time for photos with the Prime Minister, but if you could hold that until the end of the roundtable.  And we’re going to go counter clockwise, or clockwise, I should say, and when you’re speaking, please put your mic on and provide enough time for all of us to get our questions in, so try to be short, and we’ll start with...

REPORTER: Prime Minister, the responsible in charge of CSIS, Richard Fadden, said that there are some provincial and municipal politicians that have, quote, “they are agents of interference on behalf of foreign governments”.  If it’s true, do you think this is the proper way to express the concern?  These are very vague but very serious allegations.  And if it’s not true, are we going to have some consequences?

RT. HON. STEPHEN HARPER: Well, I’m not going to comment on anything specifically that Mr. Fadden said.  As Prime Minister, I’m briefed very regularly on security threats that exist both outside the country and within the country, the range of those threats and the range of activities that are undertaken by CSIS and our other security agencies to monitor and to deal with those threats.  Should any information like that exist, it would of course be passed to the relevant authorities.  I would not comment on it, and I doubt they would comment on it either, so that’s all I have to say on that subject, and you will never hear me commenting on specific security matters in public.

REPORTER: I had to ask anyway.  Thank you.

REPORTER: Prime Minister, it’s only six weeks back you hosted visit of the Prime Minister of India, and at the dinner, state dinner that you hosted, and you spoke so very well about the outcome of that visit.  You and Prime Minister Singh witnessed signing of the historic civilian nuclear agreement and then according to information, both of you also had had some discussions about extensive trade agreement between the two countries.  My interest, two questions.  Firstly, as a result of signing of this nuclear, civilian nuclear agreement, is it a fact now that Indian companies or Indian government can import uranium and other nuclear material from Canada, strictly for use in their civilian nuclear reactors, and secondly, is there any projection from your side, sir, as to when this comprehensive trade agreement, if at all, is going to be signed?  There is an influx next month of four federal ministers from India coming to this country, and as many as 12 Canadian ministers in the last 24 months have visited India, sir. 

RT. HON. STEPHEN HARPER: Right.  First of all, on the nuclear cooperation agreement, you know, frankly I probably should get officials to brief you more if you want some of the specific details, but basically they allow for a range of possible economic activity between Canada and India in support of the development of India’s civilian nuclear energy capacity, which we anticipate will be rising enormously in the years to come, and it’s no secret the government of Canada wants Canadian industry to look at those opportunities and to participate in those opportunities.  Is the deal in any way contingent on those things?  No.  We have not...we’re not making any kind of condition that there be agreements with Canadian companies.  We expect Canadian companies to compete.  This merely opens doors to what will be an important and growing industry.  I say, in terms of specific...the specific provisions, I could get you more information if you wanted, but it allows for broad cooperation and interaction on civilian nuclear energy, and contains a range of safeguards to ensure our country that that will be the purpose of the activity.

On the comprehensive economic partnership study, this was something that was undertaken with the government of India over the past year.  We have completed the study, and we would hope that in the near future, it would be the basis for beginning some serious negotiations on such an arrangement, but there is a lot of steps to be undertaken to get there, but that is certainly the direction we’re interested in moving and we are going to maintain the pace of ministerial level visits to India in pursuit of these objectives.  I know that Minister Ritz, the Agriculture Minister, will be in India in September, and Jason Kenney, of course, the Minister of Immigration and Citizenship as well.  There’s a growing range of cooperation between our countries, not just on economic matters, not just on matters like civilian nuclear energy, but also on matters like security.  There’s increasingly close cooperation between our two countries, and as I said, I think India’s a country that shares much common history and common values with Canada, and common interest in the world of the future, so this is a relationship we do want to focus on. 

REPORTER: Thank you, sir.

REPORTER: Prime Minister, are you helping the Korean government in any way as they prepare for the upcoming G20 summit, and are we close to signing the free trade agreement between Canada and Korea?

RT. HON. STEPHEN HARPER: Good question.  First of all, on the summit the answer is yes.  We have worked very closely with the government of the Republic of Korea, and I have worked very closely with President Lee.  They were consulted quite closely in our work, in our chairmanship of the G20 summit in Toronto, and obviously we’re then working with them in providing any assistance we can in their hosting of the next summit.  Since these two summits are both this year and both so close together, we’ve tried to closely coordinate the work plans of both.  In fact, many of the initiatives that were discussed in Toronto we want to see come to completion.  You know, for example, the comprehensive global financial sector reforms, we would like to see those come to completion in Seoul, so absolutely, our two countries have been working very closely, and you know, our officials, who have a lot of expertise and knowledge at hosting and putting together international conferences, have made it clear to our Korean friends that we’ll offer any assistance they deem useful.

In terms of the trade agreement, you’re correct to say that we have had negotiations with the Republic of Korea on possible free trade agreement.  Those have been going on for some time now.  There are some difficult, sensitive issues, I may as well be frank, some difficult, sensitive issues that to this point have prevented us coming to a final conclusion, and those items remain under discussion.  They include things like the beef sector.  As you know, Canadian beef remains closed to the Korean market, even though, you know, it has been increasingly...our beef is increasingly accepted everywhere.  China just opened its borders, and this is actually the subject of a WTO action on our part, because we do think this is unfair.  There are sensitivities around the automobile sector as you know as well.  So these items remain under discussion, but I think it would be premature to say that we’re on the verge of signing an agreement at this point. 

REPORTER: As we know, we’re a country of immigrants, and people hear great stories before coming here. They’re promised all kinds of things.  When they come here, it’s a very different situation.  I think we’re still having a serious problem with utilizing the abilities, knowledge and education of highly trained professionals, and on the other hand, we’ve got serious, serious problems here with shortages of doctors and people in other professions.  So my question to you is do you think enough has been done, because I know that a lot has been done.  Do you think enough has been done, is being done, and what is your vision on this?  Like, where are we going and when do we get there?

RT. HON. STEPHEN HARPER: Well, a lot has been done.  As you know, we’ve invested $50 million since we took office through, particularly through the economic action plan, to enhance the identification and the recognition of foreign skills.  It’s our government’s strong belief that in many areas, we are under-utilizing the potential contributions of immigrants to the country.  It obviously to some degree defeats some of the purpose of our immigration program, but obviously it’s a terrible tragedy for those individuals as well who are not in some cases easily able to get the recognition they deserve.  We’ve recognized from the outset, the reason we’ve been investing money, we’ve recognized from the outset not just that this has to be done, but it has to be done in coordination with the provinces who control most aspects of the labour market, and of the recognition process.  We have established, we have actually got a pan-Canadian agreement with the provinces, so-called pan-Canadian framework for the assessment and recognition of foreign credentials, which is a...foreign qualifications, I should say, which is a major step forward in terms of mobilizing all levels of government to deal with this issue.  I think some progress is being made.  You asked specifically about the medical sector.  I mean, this is, you know, a couple of these areas, like the medical sector, are the trickiest area, because not just that we don’t...we don’t control it as a federal government, but in fact the provinces in most cases have delegated virtually all of the authority to the professional accrediting bodies.  Nevertheless, they are working with us to try and deal with this problem.  We have, right now we are piloting a national assessment process for international medical graduates who are looking at doing residency in Canada to try and...to try and deal with some of these qualification issues.  But as I say, we’re trying to do this cooperatively.  I think we’re making some progress, but we concede more needs to be done.

REPORTER: Prime Minister, I will ask you three questions.


REPORTER: A privilege.  First of all, I want to know that although our legislature has been passed to protect the Canadian consumers from the various companies who issuing those credit cards, I was surprised to learn this week that Citibank of Canada is charging 22 and a half.  Suddenly, without any warning, put up the price on 22 and a half, and the official interest of the Bank of Canada is zero.  And I want you to know that because usually the people who are using, are going to these services are immigrants and new Canadians, and this is a rip-off for all of us.  The second one is that...last week I spoke with Paul...Phil Angelides and Mr. Georgiou.  Both of them, Phil Angelides is the chairman of the commission that President Obama made to find out the reasons of the economic crisis, and Mr. Georgiou is one of the commissioners.  And during the conversation came out that both of them believe that the economy, which recently is down to Europe, the European countries, they are expecting that eventually is going to reach us, is going to reach United States, and of course if it’s going to reach United States, it’s going also to have effects on us.  Just I’m wondering if your government took any action to prevent anything or whatever is going to be done in the future because still the economy is trying to get out of the recession.  And finally, the third one, Prime Minister, with every respect, I want to bring to your attention that the Consular General, the Consul General of China is withholding a Canadian passport that has been issued to a Canadian citizen from Chinese origin, and they are refusing to return this passport back to the person, who is submitted to receive a visa.  I want to know if they do have the right to withhold Canadian passport.  Either they like or they don’t like the carrier of this passport.  Thank you. 

RT. HON. STEPHEN HARPER: Right. Let me just deal with the first and third issues quickly.  Look, our government shares – I think we’ve said this before – we share concerns about some of the practices that are out there in terms of the credit card industry, and we’ve been trying to use some degree of persuasion to adjust those practices.  I’ll take a look at this specific case you raise.  In fairness, it would not be under the responsibility of the Bank of Canada.  It might be under OSFI or it might be under the consumer...one of the consumer agencies, but it’s certainly a situation we continue to monitor. 

In terms of the...I also take a note of your concern on the withholding of a Canadian passport.  I’m not aware of such a right to do that, but we will, if you give us the information, I can follow up on it and see exactly what the case is there, because I’m not familiar with the particular case.

In terms of the economic problems in Europe and to some degree the United States, you know, what I’ve continued to say for a long time now is, you know, to remind Canadians the recession didn’t start in this country.  That’s why throughout this, our performance has tended to be better than Europe, better than the United States, better than virtually all of the industrialized, other industrialized economies.  That said, we are in a global economy, so I cannot tell you these things will not and do not have impact in Canada.  We know that we’ve had, you know, a year ago, we had considerable job loss.  We’ve started to regain virtually all of that, but we had considerable job loss simply because of the effects of some of these problems in our export markets, particularly in the United States.  So we can’t pretend that we’re fully insulated.  I can tell you this, that we have done and continue to do things to make sure that none of the causes or potential causes of this crisis or any further crisis exist in this country.  For example, there are basically three, you know, three troubled areas, if you look at the United States and Europe.  The first is the situation of the banking sector, where large financial institutions throughout the United States and in some European countries had toxic assets or grossly overvalued assets on their books and many of these banks were of course not, as a consequence, financially stable when there began to be a tightening in credit conditions.  Canadian banks are in no such situation.  We have had a strong system, a strong activist system of regulation that has also generated very prudential behaviour on the part of the Canadian banks.  No one in the world is suggesting Canadian banks are unstable or in any way a source of instability.  In fact, Canadian banks are starting – obviously they’re being cautious – but they’re starting to look for ways that they can take advantage of the trouble in, you know, some of the other banking sectors to advance the size of the Canadian financial sector in the world, and of course, we have a joint task force with the province of Ontario and others to try and look at ways to do that as well.  So the banking sector is not a concern.  We’re participating internationally in discussions on reform of the financial regulation.  We’re not claiming our system is perfect.  We’re also prepared to make some improvements.  We’re bringing in, as you know, we’re working with Ontario, British Columbia and others to bring in a system of national securities regulation in this country, because that’s the one area of the financial sector that is not nationally regulated, and it’s the one area, by the way, where we have had some problems during this crisis.  So you know, we don’t have a problem now, but we’re aggressively taking action to deal with any potential problems there. 

Similar with the household sector.  In the United States, as you know, the fact that households were grossly overextended, particularly on their mortgages and most centrally on their mortgages, that was a big cause of the crisis.  In Canada, we’ve a very different mortgage system where mortgages are insured by a credible government agency.  They have to be within certain constraints.  Our financial firms by and large do not trade mortgages. They hold mortgages.  They don’t try and turn them into fancy products. We don’t have things like sub-prime in Canada.  Now, even there, once again, in the last two years we have taken some steps to strengthen some of the parameters around mortgages just to make sure we don’t get an overheated situation or situation where households are overextended.  I will say that we are concerned about the growth of private debt, of household debt in Canada.  But nevertheless, the mortgage sector itself remains fundamentally sound in this country. 

Third source of problems, particularly in Europe, has been the government sector.  Enormous deficits being racked up by governments, enormous debt levels, and in some cases, falsification of the books, in terms of the actual financial state of the government.  As you know, we have very stringent auditing in Canada.  Even with, you know, we have one of the largest stimulus programs in the world.  Even with that stimulus program, deficit and debt levels in Canada remain near the bottom of the industrialized world.  We still have very low deficit and debt levels.  We also are one of the few countries that does have a actually published fiscal plan to return to balanced budget in the mid-term.  So you know, look, if...I always tell people this.  I know some people are concerned about the deficit, and we always should be, but if Canada’s got a problem, let me assure you, everyone else is going to go bankrupt long before we are, because their deficits are two, three and four times as big, and they have much higher debt levels. So once again, as long as we stick to our plan, if I can be blunt on this with all of you, as long as the Conservative government does what it says and not what the opposition wants us to do, as long as we do what we say, which is to end the stimulus spending, and begin to balance the budget after the recession, you know, we’re targeting spring of next year, we will be fine.  If we do what the opposition wants and make all this spending permanent and make it all bigger, we’ll have a big problem in a few years.  But at the moment, we have no problem and no reason we should have a problem in any of those things. So, to recap all that, if you look at the problems in other countries, none of those problems are present in Canada, and in fact the government of Canada has taken additional measures in the past two years to ensure we don’t have them in Canada.  I think that’s all at this point we can do.  The only other thing we can do, as what I was doing in Toronto when I was, you know, president of the G20, is to try and persuade the other countries of the world to adopt some of our practices in the financial regulation sector, in government finance and in other sectors.  Some of them are doing that to try and persuade them to do this internationally.  That’s the only other thing we can do to protect ourselves.  Ultimately, if there are deep problems in our export markets, they will affect us, and that has been a recent problem, but we’re doing everything domestically we can to deal with that, and we’re working with our international partners to try to help them get out, avoid and/or get out of some of the problems that they are in.  Thanks. 

REPORTER: Hi, Prime Minister.  I’m not asking you to comment on Mr. Fadden’s issue, but may we know when the detail of his report will be released?

RT. HON. STEPHEN HARPER: No is the answer to that question.


RT. HON. STEPHEN HARPER: But I appreciate the question.  Look, I’m not, as I said earlier, I’m not going to comment on Mr. Fadden’s comments, and you’re not asking me to, but such information, when it is compiled, and as I say, I’m briefed regularly, and I expect others to be briefed accordingly.  That information is to be dealt with the highest levels of confidence that one would expect of national security matters.  So no, I would not foresee any further publication or commentary or speculation on the contents of any of these things.  If there are serious concerns, as I say, they will be conveyed to those who are responsible for dealing with those particular problems.

REPORTER: Ok.  Another question is will there be a fall election?

RT. HON. STEPHEN HARPER: Well, not if I have my way.  I said this morning, I’ve said repeatedly, I see no evidence at all that the Canadian public wants an election.  We’ve had now many elections, three elections in six years?  We’ve had three elections in six years.  Right now the focus is the economy.  The Canadian economy is doing well compared to others, but as I said, we are in a very difficult international environment, and we need to stay the course.  We need to stay focused on the economy and not get pushed into a bunch of political games.  So I’ve been very clear.  I’m not planning to call an election this fall.  I see no advantage in it for the country or for anyone else.  As you know, the opposition coalition, the Liberals, NDP and Bloc Quebecois, if they decide to force an election, they have that in their power.  But I think it would be very ill advised and I would encourage them to listen to the Canadian people, which say...who say focus on the economy, which is what we’re doing.

REPORTER: Thank you. 

REPORTER: Prime Minister, forgive me for not dealing with something of a national interest...


REPORTER: ...but it’s a topic that affects everybody in this room.  Every media house in this room, anyhow.  You said earlier that the media houses we represent, the publications we represent are among the most widely read in the country.  We are the source for news for most Canadians, most immigrant Canadians, anyways.  Yet we seem to suffer from a very serious lack of federal government advertising.  The federal government advertising budget doesn’t seem to include us, or if it does include us, it’s a very small percentage.  This is an issue you’ve been trying to bring up to...bring to the attention of successive governments.  I don’t know if you’re aware of it, but I just wanted to let you know about it, because we don’t often have the ear of the Prime Minister.  So my question to you is will you, if you become aware of it, would you look at it and try to ensure that we get our fair share of government advertising?

RT. HON. STEPHEN HARPER: Well, I certainly am aware of the issue, and we’ve tried since taking office to emphasize that more needs to be done in terms of advertising through cultural and community media, because it is an important information source for so many Canadians.  Now, look, the government has to tread here with some degree of caution.  We don’t want to be accused of, you know, picking favourite papers to place advertisements and then flow money to because this was exactly the kind of thing that got the previous government into trouble with the sponsorship scandal.  But you know, we have had a general directive to try and bring this up.  I actually asked for some figures on this.  In 2008/2009, our print budget – now, it’s primarily print – print budget on so-called cultural communities or ethnic print was over $2 million.  That was up considerably from what it used to be.  That, by the way, was 30 percent of the total community newspaper advertising done by the federal government, so it was a considerable part.  I’m told that for 2009/2010, that amount is up to $4.5 million.  It’s up considerably.  Now, a little caution on that. As you know, the economic action plan has included additional government advertising.  It’s part of the plan, so those levels will be coming back down in some cases across the media board.  But there has been some effort on the part of the government.  We continue to push Public Works to make sure that we are adequately ensuring that government, government-wide advertising is covered in ethnic media.

REPORTER: Thank you.  I had one more question, if I’m allowed to ask.  Again, it concerns something that’s very specific to my community, which is the Caribbean community, and it deals with Caribana.  As you know, there was an IPSOS-Reid report that was issued earlier this spring which said that Caribana generates over $400 million a year, out of which the federal government gets I think it’s over $190 million in revenue off of Caribana.  Yet this year, the funding for Caribana on the federal level was cut, and the organizers of the event had to basically pinch pennies to get the festival done, to the point where they each took pay cuts, 30 percent pay cuts.  Do you think that your government will be funding Caribana better in the future?

RT. HON. STEPHEN HARPER: Well, the short answer is this: the government has for some years provided I think a fairly stable level of funding to Caribana.  Once again, through the economic action plan, there were specific stimulus monies distributed in 2009 that were one time much higher than usual because they were part of a global effort to kick start the tourism centre...the tourism sector in Canada, and particularly in Canada’s major cities.  So there were some very high levels of funding given in 2009.  In 2010, that special program was distributed more widely.  In 2009, it was the so-called Marquee Tourism Program.  The funding went to a fairly small number of major festivals across the country.  In 2010 it was distributed more broadly, so some that had received a lot previous years received less, but far more festivals actually got funded than got funded the previous year.  That program will be expiring in its entirety this year, at the end of this year, so there will not be special additional funds. So I think what you will see is the funding levels for Caribana and other levels in 2011 will return to where they had been prior to the recession; that is the government’s plan.

REPORTER: Thank you.

REPORTER: Prime Minister, I have two questions for you, if that’s all right.


REPORTER: The first one has to do with your government recently introduced new sanctions against Iran, more stringent sanctions.  I’m wondering first off what the timeline is to be given for those to work in your government’s view, and what further sanctions might be applied should those sanctions not bear fruit and prevent, or at least give a semblance of preventing Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s regime from continuing its quest for nuclear power and/or nuclear weapons?  The second question I have, which is of a more specific nature to our community, is the soldier Gilad Shalit has been held captive by Hamas for the last four and a half years.  We’re wondering whether or not the government plans to, I guess, bear pressure down on the ICRC or perhaps other non-governmental organizations to see what can be done to gain access to him at the very least to determine his condition?

RT. HON. STEPHEN HARPER: Sure.  On the question of Iran, as I think you know, our government continues to be very worried about the activities of the Iranian government.  We have no quarrel with the Iranian people; far from it.  We sympathize deeply with widespread democratic and human rights abuses that exist within that country, including, you know, what the public put up with and what was clearly a fraudulent election.  As I say, that all said, we are very worried about the continued activities of Iran, which in our judgement unequivocally indicate that that regime wants to gain nuclear weapons capacity.  And Iran gaining nuclear weapons capacity would be a very grave security threat to that region and throughout the world.  The government of Canada is working – we can only be effective in this area – working with our international partners.  We work closely with our allies, particularly through the G8 and NATO.  We worked with our allies to bring about tougher sanctions resolutions at the United Nations.  We’re working with our closest allies, as you just mentioned, to bring in an enhanced program of sanctions.  Look, I can only say this.  You know, I can’t answer your question.  How long will we give it to work, will it work, how long will we give it to work, what will we do next?  I can only tell you that, you know, we need to work in concert with others to be effective, so we will continue to consult with the United States, Britain, France and our other allies on what the appropriate step forward is.  But I, you know, I can’t emphasize enough to the Canadian people and to the global community when I’ve spoken to other leaders.  I think it would be foolhardy for the world to in any way underestimate either the determination of this regime to acquire nuclear weapons, or the threat this regime holding nuclear weapons would pose to all of us.  And other leaders are certainly aware of my view on that score. 

On Shalit, we have called repeatedly for his release.  As you know, the regime that holds him is not one that is terribly given to responding to international pressure or respecting international law in any way, shape or form, and we obviously have great sympathy for him and for his family and all those who know him.  He does stand as a symbol and a remembrance that terrorism and the threat of terrorism and terrorism in fact is very real in Israel’s existence on a day to day basis.  And he is a symbol of that reality, and of the complete lawlessness of those in that region of the country who threaten Israel’s existence. 

REPORTER: Thank you.

REPORTER: Mr. Prime Minister, with the arrival of Tamil refugee ship to Canada, gives me a reason to ask this question: there’s a growing concern that in the name of Charter of Rights, a tiny section of many communities, Muslims, (inaudible), Sikhs, Tamils, etcetera, is perpetuating a hatred campaign from Canadian soil.  What government has already done and what is planned to undo this phenomena while ensuring that Canada stays beacon of hope for those who make hard decisions to displace themselves from their native lands?

RT. HON. STEPHEN HARPER: Well, I think there’s two or three different questions or situations mixed into that. First of all, more broadly, I think it’s always important to emphasize that the vast, vast majority of people who come to this country from, not just from the Indian subcontinent but from all parts of the world do so because they see a land of tremendous opportunity for themselves, their children and their descendants, and they come here not to abandon their roots, but they come here to belong to Canada and to contribute to the country and ultimately to maintain their roots and their good relations with those who they’ve left behind, and that cannot be forgotten.  To the extent there is a minority in, you know, any community, I mean, you know, it existed, you know, 150 years ago.  You go back and, you know, we had the Fenians.  There’s always been elements who’ve, small elements who come to this country who had other agendas, violent agendas, either here or violent agendas related to their homeland.  I just think it’s important at all times that we as politicians, first of all, our security agencies monitor these people, but we as politicians distance ourselves from those tiny groups of people.  I did mention this issue, you may recall, at the Air India memorial in Toronto earlier this summer, that it is very important that, you know, there’s a small element that sees its place in Canada as a base in which to export, you know, old battles and old animosities back to India, that that is something that no political party should have anything to do with in this country.  India is a great and forward-looking nation that is today led by a great man who is a member of the Sikh community, as you know. 


RT. HON. STEPHEN HARPER: In terms of the more recent issue of the arrival of the Sun Sea.  Look, Canada is a nation of refuge and has been for many people, but I do think Canadians get concerned when hundreds of people start arriving by boat without any attempt to go through an application process, any attempt to pursue normal travel channels, and of course, considerable evidence that in this case this was actually an illegal operation with secret, you know, secret exchange of money in order to engage in human smuggling.  I think this is something that concerns us all.  We have a responsibility as a government and Canadians expect all of us to protect our sovereignty and our security, and that we take whatever steps are necessary to deal with this kind of phenomenon.  That’s why when this boat arrived, we insist that everybody is going to have to be thoroughly screened and then put through whatever legal process is in place.  We’re also working closely with our international allies, including Australia.  Many other countries are experiencing this as a growing phenomenon.  This growing phenomenon of trafficking in human smuggling is something we’re seeing throughout the world, so it’s something we’re very concerned about, and as I said this morning, if we have to strengthen laws to give ourselves more tools to deal with it, we will.  But it is a very big concern, and as I say, not to say that people who come to this country, or not to say even that these people, some may be seeking legitimate refuge, but the way that this has been done and the way some of these shipments are coming over raises very serious concerns about who’s behind it, what the agenda is, who these people are, exactly, and why there is no effort to work through any legal or accepted channels, and so it is something we take very seriously. 


MODERATOR: Well, thanks, everyone, for your time. 

RT. HON. STEPHEN HARPER: Yes, thank you.  We covered a lot of ground.