OTTAWA –Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney says the RCMP is investigating dozens of Canadians who have returned from fighting extremist wars overseas.
Blaney also told the Commons public safety committee Wednesday that the government will bring forward new measures to help monitor suspected terrorists, but he offered no details.
A recent federal report said the federal government knew of more than 130 individuals with Canadian connections who were abroad and suspected of supporting terror-related activities.
It said the government was aware of about 80 such people who had returned to Canada.
As extremists wage guerrilla-style battles in cities across war-stricken Syria and parts of Iraq, western nations are warning that combatants could arrive home harbouring violent intentions.
The RCMP has about 63 active national security investigations related to 90 individuals who intend to go abroad or who have returned to Canada, said Bob Paulson, commissioner of the national police force.
“And so the pace and tempo of operations is quite brisk,” Paulson told the committee.
He quickly added: “It’s nothing that I think that Canadians need to be alarmed about.”
Paulson said the RCMP was “managing, through our collective efforts,” a response that would be appropriate to the nature of the suspected offences.
The RCMP is also developing an “intervention program” that would engage police and local communities to deal with people at risk of turning to extremism.
A man from Timmins, Ont., who died in combat in Syria last year had taken part in a slickly produced video, widely circulated on the Internet following his death, with the aim of inspiring like-minded young people to wage jihad.
Blaney noted the federal government had enacted new laws to stop extremist travellers before they leave the country and to strip Canadian citizenship from convicted extremists. It is also investing in academic research to help better understand extremist thinking.
However, the government is three months late, with no revised deadline, on delivering a tracking system it touts as a means of stopping homegrown terrorists from joining overseas conflicts.
Under the Canada-U.S. perimeter security pact, Canada promised to begin collecting records as of last June 30 on people leaving Canada on international flights.
The Tories missed that deadline because legislative and regulatory changes are needed before the plan can take effect.