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The terrorist attacks of October 2014 in Ottawa and Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec, demonstrated that the historically relatively benign security environment within Canada has given way to a much more uncertain present.
The nature of the terrorism threat to Canada has come to reflect broader terrorism trends experienced by other Western countries. While overall cases remain rare, the number of terrorist incidents involving lone actors in both Europe and North America appears to be increasing, attributed to a number of drivers and motivated by a diversity of violent ideologies.
Canada’s approach to counter-terrorism warrants closer attention in light of this changing threat picture and the evolving threat of lone actors – not least because the risk of lone-actor terrorism puts Canadian citizens on the front line of any future response.
Drawing on first-hand interviews with practitioners and policy-makers, as well as wider literature, this report looks specifically at the phenomenon of lone-actor terrorism in Canada alongside the community engagement programme of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. It examines case studies in recent Canadian history to highlight the issues surrounding community engagement pre and post attack, and provides recommendations to improve the programme, offering insights to other countries facing similar threats.
An updated version of this occasional paper was uploaded on 13 February 2015.
About the Authors
Charlie Edwards is Director of National Security and Resilience Studies at RUSI.
Calum Jeffray is a Research Analyst in the National Security and Resilience department at RUSI.
Raffaello Pantucci is Director of International Security Studies at RUSI.