On August 25, 2016, Public Safety Canada released a report to address the growing concerns of extremist-inspired attacks in Canada. The Hon. Ralph Goodale, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, addressed these concerns in his forward by stating: “The events of August 10, 2016 in Strathroy, Ontario, demonstrate the importance of continued vigilance in responding to threats posed by individuals who have radicalized to the point of violence.”
The report should serve as a sobering reminder to the Canadian public that while we are far from the epicentre of conflict, “Canada is not immune to the threat of terrorism.” As such, national security agencies must focus on evolving their approaches to counter extremist ideology, along with the changing threat environment.
Minister Goodale mentions key initiatives for the future of counter-extremism in Canada; ensuring the protection of liberties and accountability of national security agencies through a committee of parliamentarians who will have access to classified information, and creating a new national office dedicated toward community outreach and detection and prevention of tragedies.
Since 2002, 20 people have been convicted on terrorism offences, with another 21 charged and are awaiting trial or have warrants for their arrest. The report states that Canada is contributing in a robust way to The Global Coalition Against Daesh, including initiatives to disrupt foreign fighter flows, funding sources, and countering Daesh ideology. Counter-terrorism efforts in Canada will continue to evolve as threats do, “guided by the twin obligations to both keep Canadians safe and safeguard fundamental Canadian values and liberties.”
The report outlines the principle threat of attacks in Canadian by violent extremists who are inspired by terrorist acts around the world. Extremist ideologies, such as those demonstrated and supported by groups like Daesh and al-Qaida, are said to appeal to certain individuals and groups in the country.
Canada’s National Terrorism Threat Level is a government-designed tool to “ensure consistent understanding across the Government of the general terrorism threat to Canada.” For the first time, the report outlines Canada’s various National Terrorism Threat Levels. Since October 2014, the level has been placed at MEDIUM. This level means “a violent act of terrorism could occur in Canada.”
In addition, the threat landscape outside of Canada has changed dramatically. Groups like Daesh, Jabhat al Nusra, Hizballah, Boko Haram (now a Daesh affiliate), and al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) have gained prominence, including expansion in Southeast Asia.
The report also notes potential areas of focus for the future — drawing particular attention to the role of technology in terrorism, participation of women in terror activities, and the use of chemical weapons.
The report itself represents an interesting look at the various perspectives of national security agencies in Canada. Closely guarded and often called on for lacking transparency, this provides a look at how these agencies are approaching the growing concerns of extremist attacks around the globe.
Read the full report here.
Featured image provided by Prayitno @ Flickr Commons