Weak link found between religion, terrorism for Canada
Only two per cent of attacks labelled as violent extremism were perpetrated by religious groups.
Canadian Incident Database.
Published: Wednesday, 05/20/2015 12:00 am EDT
Last Updated: Wednesday, 05/20/2015 10:23 am EDT
A new comprehensive database on terrorism occurring in Canada, or involving Canadian perpetrators, victims or targets, has added another tool to the belts of policymakers focused on anti-terrorism efforts.
The open-source Canadian Incident Database is available for free at extremism.ca. It captures unclassified incidents from 1960 to present, including hoaxes and threats. Data was drawn from more than a dozen existing datasets, according to a presentation given at Carleton University last week.
Despite the existence of new threats and new trends such as the recruitment of foreign fighters by terrorist groups, incidents of terrorism haven’t necessarily become more prevalent in Canada, according to findings from the database.
Of 1,405 recorded incidents that occurred in Canada since 1960, 50 happened in the last five years and 13 in the last two, the majority of them threats instead of successful attacks. The Oct. 22 shooting in Ottawa counts as two incidents—one at the war memorial, one on the Hill.
Though recent discourse from Canadian politicians has focused on religious motivations for terrorism, and ISIS in particular, events that occurred in Canada have tended not to be religiously motivated. Of the 1,405 incidents, 255, or about 18 per cent, were religiously motivated, according to the database, and only two per cent of attacks labelled as violent extremism were perpetrated by religious groups.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper has consistently characterized terrorist threats facing Canada as coming from a single category: Islamic extremism or “jihadism.” In a January 30 speech introducing the controversial Anti-Terrorism Act, or Bill C-51, Mr. Harper said: “Jihadi terrorism is not a human right; it is an act of war.”
That exact phrase has been repeated, verbatim, 10 times in the House of Commons by 10 different Conservative MPs in the last couple of months, according to Open Parliament, largely in defence of Bill C-51.