OTTAWA - Police conducted a series of searches and interrogations of Muslim Canadians in four Canadian cities over the past few days using their new powers under the anti-terrorism law, C-36, The Star has learned.
In what is believed to be the first uses of the provisions that allow more aggressive investigative tactics, an RCMP spokesperson confirmed police executed seven searches under search warrants now sealed by a judge: two in Toronto, three in Ottawa, two in Montreal and one in Quebec city.
It was not clear yesterday whether the searches were related or separate investigations, and police would not comment.
"We have not detained anybody, we have not arrested anybody, we have not charged anybody," said RCMP spokesperson Michelle Paradis. "It's an ongoing investigation."
Paradis refused to comment further. "The warrants are all sealed," she said. "As such, anything further is part of the sealing order" including the courts' reasons for sealing the warrants.
RCMP in Ottawa would not say whether any of the searches were related to U.S. allegations yesterday that a fifth wanted Al Qaeda terror suspect is a Canadian.
But yesterday Islamic community leaders said police are already using the law to target Muslim Canadians, and are conducting what they say are insensitive interrogations that reveal poor training, poor knowledge of Islam and racial profiling, an allegation Paradis denied.
"I can assure you at no time has the RCMP engaged in racial profiling," Paradis said.
Ottawa RCMP Corporal Louise LaFrance said, "We have to execute a search warrant and we act within the law." She added that female officers went to each location searched in the capital.