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How Safe Is Canada: Terrorism In Canada

Canada is the second-largest country in the world, with a population of about 38 million people. The country sees frequent migrations and visits from people all around the world mainly because of its beautiful nature park and its bustling cosmopolitan life. However, with its growing popularity, many wonder, “What is the severity of terrorism in Canada?”, “Is it safe to live in?”

The country was ranked 12th place amongst the top 20 countries according to the Global Peace Index 2021 and has a relatively low impact of terrorism with a mere score of 3.171 in the Global Terrorism Index 2020.

Based on these statistics, we can see that Canada may be a country with a low risk against terrorist threats, However, there is still a small percentage of chance for a potential attack. So is Canada a safe country? Are there many cases of terrorism in Canada? What should you expect when you move to Canada? What are the government measures taken to keep you safe against such attacks? Let’s take a look at how safe Canada is when it comes to terrorist attacks.

Terrorist attacks in Canada

Recently, Canada has seen a few terrorist attacks. The main source of threats and attacks usually originate from individuals who may have been inspired by extremist ideologies. They then carry out “loner actor” attacks which may come with little to no prior notice.

Before we discover the terrorist attacks in the past decade, let’s take a look at the constituents of a terrorist attack, or in simpler terms, what makes a terrorist attack.

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), there are 2 categories of terrorist attacks which are:

  • International Terrorism – Violent, criminal acts committed by individuals and/or groups who are inspired by, or associated with, designated foreign terrorist organizations or nations (state-sponsored).
  • Domestic Terrorism –  Violent, criminal acts committed by individuals and/or groups to further ideological goals stemming from domestic influences, such as those of a political, religious, social, racial, or environmental nature.

From these 2 categories, we can see that according to Canadian officials, these kinds of attacks that the Canadians might face would be Domestic Terrorism. Now that you have grasped the idea of what a terrorist attack is defined as, let’s see the most recent terrorist attacks that have occurred in Canada during the past decade.

In 2018, 25-year-old Alek Minassian drove a rental van down the sidewalk of Yonge Street in Toronto. With his intent to kill, 10 people died and 16 were seriously injured.

After which there was an incident on 6 June 2021, where a pickup truck driver struck three adults and two children because of their faith in a particular religion. One of the victims died at the scene while the others died at the hospital leaving a nine-year-old boy was seriously injured alive.

What is the risk of terrorism in Canada?

Based on the information provided by the official website of the Canadian government, the risk of Terrorism is at a medium level. The government has their own tools of measurement known as the National Terrorism Threat Level, where Canada’s Integrated Terrorism Assessment Centre (ITAC), an independent expert federal body is responsible for assessing Canadas’ terrorism threats on a national scale.

ITAC examines the threats based on information and intelligence provided by the Canadian and international security partners. Then, they provide their objectives and expert recommendations on what to do next.

We can see that on a global level, Canada has a relatively low score of 3.171 (with 0 being the lowest and 10 being the highest), in terms of threats according to The Global Terrorism Index 2020. However, the government recognises the potential of another threat or attack and thus advises the people to stay vigilant all the time and to report any suspicious activities immediately.

Although the risk in Canada is at a medium level, one should still be cautious as their neighbouring country, The United States, has seen many major terrorist threats and attacks in the past few years. Thus, this puts Canada on a list of potential targets.

Countries, in general, strive for peace and safety for their citizens and visitors. Canada may be well on its way to achieving its maximum potential in that sense but do you ever stop to wonder “what is the government doing to keep the citizens safe?”. Let’s take a look then at what the government officials are doing.

What is the Canadian government doing to combat terrorism?

Photo Credit: Toronto Star

Now that you have read the attacks that have occurred in the past and the potential threats that Canada might face, let us progress to what measurements the Government is taking to keep the people of Canada safe.

Building Resilience Against Terrorism

Building Resilience was set up by the Canadian government in 2012, with the intention to tackle the global and domestic threats Canada faces. Individuals and communities are able to determine the extremist ideologies and thus create a strong and resilient society should an attack occur. With the various activities, government officials and agencies take part in counter-terrorism, taking in mind the human-rights aspect when dealing with such attacks.

The core principle of the strategy is building resilience. The 4 elements of the strategy are:

  • Prevent – Motivations of individuals who engage in, or have the potential to engage in, terrorist activity at home and abroad. The emphasis will be on addressing the factors that may motivate individuals to engage in terrorist activities.
  • Detect – Understanding of the changing threat environment is key. Collobarting with domestic and international partners aid in the research and analytics to identify  terrorists, terrorist organizations and their supporters, their capabilities and the nature of their plans.
  • Deny – Intelligence and law enforcement actions can deny terrorists the means and opportunities to pursue terrorist activities. This involves mitigating vulnerabilities and aggressively intervening in terrorist planning.
  • Respond – Developing Canada’s capacities to respond proportionately, rapidly and in an organized manner to terrorist activities and to mitigate their effects is another aspect of the Strategy. This element also speaks to the importance of ensuring a rapid return to ordinary life and reducing the impact and severity of terrorist activity.

To find out more about this strategy, click here

Kanishka Project

The Kanishka Project is named after the Air India Flight 182 plane that was bombed on June 23, 1985, killing 329 innocent people, most of them Canadians, in the worst act of terrorism in Canadian history.

Researchers at the Kanishka Project examine issues related to terrorism, such as preventing and countering violent extremism in Canada.

The goal of the project was to better understand what terrorism means in the Canadian context, how it changes over time, and what can be done to counter-terrorism and violent extremism. In addition to funding more than 70 projects up to date. The Kanishka Project organized a variety of events aimed to share counter-terrorism knowledge with officials, practitioners and community members.

Public role

It is essential that frontline employees and the general public report any suspicious activity they see or suspect. This helps law enforcers to take required action immediately so as to keep the people safe from any harm that might occur.

If something seems wrong, notify law enforcement authorities as soon as possible. If you have any doubts or would like to report a suspicious incident, please contact the local authorities or the police force. The important contacts are:

  • RCMP National Security Information Network, 1-800-420-5805.
  • For emergencies please call 911

Describe specifically what you observed, including: 

  • Who or what you saw
  • When you saw it
  • Where it occured
  • Why it’s suspicious

The reporting phone number must be monitored by an individual vigilantly to ensure any reported suspicious activity is handled immediately.

So, it is safe to visit and live in Canada?

Again, as we can see Canada has had a relatively low level of threats and attacks in recent times. In accordance with the government measurements taking its extensive research to curb terrorist activities, Canada is a safe country to visit or live in. As long as citizens play their part in reporting suspicious activities and actively collaborate with the government, Canada will be an ideal place to live in.

In summary, let’s try to answer your questions: Is Canada a safe country? How safe is Canada? In accordance with the current statistics and research done by the relevant authorities, Canada is improving on identifying potential threats at a faster speed and thus, to conclude, it is a safe and ideal country to live in.

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