Northern Exposure?

This is a partial transcript of "The Big Story With John Gibson," May 10, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.

JOHN GIBSON, HOST: The Minutemen (search) watching the borders could have their hands full. A Canadian intelligence report says Islamic extremists (search) are coming back to Canada and some who have been training abroad with the world's top bad guys could be ready to launch an attack.

I'm joined by the new Canadian ambassador to the United States, Frank McKenna.

Mr. Ambassador, the big question: Are Islamic radicals inside Canada a threat to both your side of the border and ours?

FRANK MCKENNA, CANADIAN AMBASSADOR TO UNITED STATES: Well, you know, this is not new news. This is a government report that was made available.


GIBSON: Yes, I know. That is why it kind of wakes us up — it's a Canadian report discussing it.

MCKENNA: So, it is old news. But is there the potential for terrorism coming from Canada? Yes. Is there the potential for terrorism from the United States going into Canada? Of course, yes. Were any of the September 11th terrorists from Canada? The answer is no. And do we care about protecting the border? The answer is, emphatically, both countries care a great deal about protecting the border and I think are doing a very good job of it.

GIBSON: Well, explain to me something. I hear there are a certain number of Americans who are mad that President Bush was reelected and then want to move to Canada. It takes them a long time. They have to go through a lot of, you know, make applications to the government of Canada. You don't just take them in. But you get the impression that if you get off the plane from Afghanistan and say, I'm here claiming political asylum, you are welcome to Canada. Is that true?

MCKENNA: No. No. It is categorically not true.

To start with, with respect to President Bush, Canadians respect the right of Americans to choose their president and compliment President Bush on winning reelection. In the case of people from other countries, not only do we screen them intensively within Canada, but we have people working for us in foreign ports all over the world screening people before they ever get on planes.

We have had over 40,000 people stop before they could even get on planes coming to Canada. So, that is categorically not true.

GIBSON: So, what are we doing about this intelligence report?

MCKENNA: Well, what is happening on the ground should give you a lot of confidence. Our intelligence people in Canada and in the United States of America work extraordinarily close together.

There's sharing of information all the way up and down the line. And, believe me, there is a lot going on that people aren't aware of in terms of cross-border communication. And I have become very satisfied that both the United States of America and Canada are taking this issue of terrorism and security so seriously and expending so much money that we are doing the best job that it's possible to do.

GIBSON: Good, because we're counting on you.

Ambassador Frank McKenna, thanks a lot.

MCKENNA: Thank you.

GIBSON: The new ambassador to the United States from Canada. Appreciate it.

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