Overview: The primary terrorist threats to Canada remained international terrorist groups such as ISIS and al-Qa’ida and their sympathizers, homegrown terrorists inspired by these groups, and domestic terrorists, including racially or ethnically motivated terrorists and the “Incel movement.” There were no terrorist attacks reported in Canada in 2018. Returning FTFs were also a concern. By the end of 2018, roughly 190 Canadian citizens or permanent residents had traveled abroad to engage in terrorist activity and an estimated 60 have returned to Canada. The government has some policies and legislation in place to counter radicalization to violence but securing the legal authority to address prosecuting returning FTFs remained a challenge.
Canada is a member of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS.
2018 Terrorist Incidents: There were no clear terrorist incidents in Canada in 2018, although there were several acts of violence that took place that raised concerns about potential terrorism. The events included an April 23 van attack in Toronto that killed 10, injured 15, and whose perpetrator authorities believe was inspired by the Incel movement, as well as a May 24 bombing at a restaurant in Mississauga that wounded more than 15 people.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: In 2018, the following activities affecting the investigation or prosecution of terrorism offenses occurred:
- On May 30, the Government of Canada listed the Islamic State-Khorasan Province as a terrorist entity.
- In July, Canada published its Federal Terrorism Response Plan: Domestic Concept of Operations, which lays out the government’s response plan in the event of a terrorist attack.
- An October 24 vote in Parliament removed hybridization clauses from Bill C-75 (An Act to amend the Criminal Code, the Youth Criminal Justice Act and other Acts and to make consequential amendments to other Acts) that would have given prosecutors discretion to charge terrorism-related activities as non-terrorist offenses with lesser penalties. Bill C-75 now keeps terrorism-related charges as indictable offenses with longer sentences.
- On November 30, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled media must hand over research materials from terrorism stories to law enforcement authorities.
- Some terrorism prosecutions were ongoing, but Canadian officials opened no new cases. At May and June hearings in Montreal, prosecutors for the first time sought to apply a new legal provision permitting removal of terrorist-related content from the online space.
- On October 26, the Immigration and Refugee Board ordered the deportation of a Jordanian citizen who used social media platforms to support lone-offender terror attacks on Canadian infrastructure sites.
While Canada’s top priority remained the prosecution of returning FTFs, impediments often derailed prosecutions. On October 30, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Ralph Goodale announced that Canada would not risk sending officials into Syria to repatriate FTFs, as Canada had no legal responsibility to do so in the case of voluntary travelers. Difficulty in obtaining evidence overseas and a reluctance to disclose intelligence as evidence in the courtroom often resulted in insufficient evidence for trial. When prosecution is not possible, Canada uses a whole-of-government approach to design mitigation measures.
Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Canada is a member of the FATF and the Asia/Pacific Group on Money Laundering, a FATF-style regional body. It maintains observer status in the Financial Action Task Force of Latin America (GAFILAT) and is a cooperating and supporting nation of the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF), two other FATF-style regional bodies. Canada’s FIU, the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada, is a member of the Egmont Group.
On November 8, Parliament’s Standing Committee on Finance published a report on confronting money laundering and terrorist financing, as part of its five-year statutory review cycle of Canada’s Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act. The report examined Canada’s AML/CFT regime, including identifying legislative and regulatory gaps and ways of improving intelligence capacity and enforcement measures, and presented a list of recommendations for the Government of Canada to improve its AML/CFT regime.
For additional information on money laundering and financial crimes, see the International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume II, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes.
Countering Violent Extremism: Canada released its National Strategy on Countering Radicalization to Violence in December, following a public consultation by the Canada Centre for Community Engagement and Prevention of Violence. The strategy establishes Canada’s priorities, which include building, sharing, and using knowledge; addressing radicalization to violence online; and supporting interventions.
Canada continued to place an emphasis on CVE by announcing new grants from the Community Resilience Fund, which “supports partnerships and financial assistance in countering radicalization to violence.” Grants in 2018 included the following:
- On January 19, Canada announced US $4 million over five years for the Edmonton Police Service and the Organization for the Prevention of Violence to map and address the sources and causes of violent extremism in Alberta.
- On February 20, Ottawa granted US $546,000 over two years to Ryerson University to research and develop more innovative CVE approaches.
- On July 24, Canada granted US $250,000 over three years to the University of Waterloo to study the motivations of radicalization to violence.
- On September 6, Ottawa announced US $1,048,000 over three years for FOCUS (Furthering Our Community by Uniting Our Services) Toronto, the Toronto Police Service’s collaborative prevention and intervention program to improve community resiliency.
- On November 6, Canada launched Canada Redirect, a US $1.5 million project designed to combat online radicalization to violence. Moonshot CVE will develop an advertising campaign promoting alternate content search results.
- On November 13, Ottawa offered US $2 million over five years to British Columbia to develop Shift, a civilian-led individually tailored intervention program.
The city of Montreal is a founding member of the Strong Cities Network.
International and Regional Cooperation: Canada prioritizes collaboration with international partners to counter terrorism and regularly seeks opportunities to lead. Canada is an active participant in the GCTF and co-chairs the GCTF’s West Africa Working Group with Algeria, which held a plenary meeting and workshop on police cooperation in 2018. Canada announced its bid to co-chair (with Morocco) the GCTF, which would begin in September 2019. Canada actively participated in NATO, the EU, and INTERPOL counterterrorism efforts, and is a member of the ASEAN Regional Forum and Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC).