Martin pledges Canada will be vigilant in wake of terror attacks in Spain
Date: Monday, March 15 2004
Topic: Canadian Politics
Canada will maintain heightened vigilance over its security in the wake of terrorist attacks in Spain, Prime Minister Paul Martin said Sunday.
Martin, who stood in front of an antique fire truck from his Montreal-area riding as he took questions from reporters, said the country began tightening its security measures after the terrorist attacks on the United States in 2001.
"As soon as the events took place on Sept. 11, we started to beef up and we've been doing it steadily," Martin said after being asked if Canada was going to follow the lead of the European Union after last week's train bombing in Madrid that left at least 200 dead and more than 1,000 wounded.
"After Madrid, again we went into vigilance and we're watching the situation very, very closely," Martin said.
"We put in place very, very strong security measures. Obviously we have the capacity to adjust them (depending) on circumstances but we are very, very vigilant."
For example, he noted that his government had created a cabinet post with a minister assigned to look after security concerns.
Evidence of al-Qaida involvement in the attack in Spain grew after the Spanish government announced finding a videotape Saturday on which a man says the Islamic terror group was punishing Spain for its support of the Iraq war.
Martin reiterated his support of Canada's decision not to send troops to participate in the U.S.-led effort to topple Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.
"I think all countries are partners and in solidarity with Spain and the United States and with Britain. I think the decision we took on Iraq was a good decision but at the same time we share values with Spain, the United States and Britain and we support them."
The news that Spain has accepted al-Qaida's claims of responsibility only reinforced the need for countries to be on guard, Martin indicated.
"I don't think there's any doubt that al-Qaida is a highly decentralized organization and I think that clearly the world changed and all nations have got to be vigilant."
Martin suggested Canadians would also be vigilant once they heard about a plan reportedly discussed by the Conservatives and Bloc Quebecois to derail legislation put forward by the Liberals if they form a minority government in Parliament after the election expected for this year.
"I suspect that anybody who would contemplate voting Conservative in the rest of the country will think twice if they hear that kind of thing," he said.
Martin's visit was part of a Quebec swing that will take him to several parts of the province on Monday.
Martin was in Montreal on Sunday to march in the city's St. Patrick's Day parade, the largest in Canada and the third largest in North America after New York and Boston.
He marched with a group from his parish in Montreal's Lasalle district and recalled his Irish roots.
"Like the great majority of Quebecers, I'm French, Irish," he said.
Source: Canadian Press