Canada Can Avoid Counterterrorism Mistakes of the Past
Two tragic events occurred in St-Jean-sur-Richelieu and Ottawa this week. While these attacks raise important security questions, they do not suggest an unmanageable terrorist threat, and Canada is well resourced to respond.
Terrorist attacks in Canada are extremely rare. Between 2002 and 2013, only one person died in the country as a result of a terrorist attack, according to the Global Terrorism Database. It is fair to say that despite some home-grown challenges, Canada has not traditionally been a primary target of international terrorism.
But this relatively low threat level is perhaps in contrast with the country’s foreign policy. Once a world leader in peacekeeping, Ottawa has recently closely aligned its strategy with the US, strengthening its relations with Israel and intervened militarily in Afghanistan. More than 40,000 Canadian Armed Forces personnel served in Afghanistan between 2001 and 2014, playing in particular a key role in Kandahar from 2006 onwards. A Chatham House study of 12 Islamic terrorist plots planned or carried out in the UK in the decade after 9/11 showed that the main expressed motive of perpetrators was their anger with the country’s foreign policy, especially its military involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq.