VANCOUVER, British Columbia – Canada's auditor general found major holes in the country's border security in the first full review since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.
The names of 18,000 known and suspected terrorists, provided largely by U.S. officials, haven't shown up for several months on watch lists used by border police, the review found.
"These are the kinds of routine basic procedures that should be functioning well … especially with the heightened concern and preoccupation with security issues," said Canada's auditor general, Sheila Fraser (search).
The audit also found that 4,500 airport workers who were given full security clearances have criminal ties. Among the other findings: fingerprint background checks take nearly three months and border agents are never given information on the thousands of passports lost or stolen each year.
Canadians who criticize their leaders say security and counterterrorism are still not high government priorities even though an intelligence report just concluded that every major international terror group has a presence there. And some terrorists are believed to view Canada as a place to seek refuge, raise money and plan attacks.
Former Canadian Ambassador Martin Collacott (search ) blames a lax immigration policy and growing anti-American sentiment that views the U.S. War on Terror as heavy-handed.
"It's been made an issue by some people saying if we do this we're giving in to American pressure and we're eroding Canadian sovereignty," Collacott said. "No we're not. If we can't control our borders, we're not controlling our own sovereignty."
The Bush administration is hoping that a new Canadian prime minister will help change the tone north of the border and perhaps will work to close the gaps in security that many insist are putting the citizens of both countries at risk
Click here to watch a report by Fox News Channel's Dan Springer.