Megan Moutsatos, Queens University.
Violence and conflict greatly impact Canada’s developmental policies. When faced with a threat (or multiple), the Canadian government strives to keep Canadians safer by strengthening these policies and implementing new ones. One of these unforgivable acts of violence is terrorism. Under the Criminal Code of Canada, terrorism includes any act meant to intimidate that causes death or serious bodily harm to others. It can also be a conspiracy, attempt, or threat to commit such an act.
Canada is no stranger to terrorist attacks. In October 2014, Micheal Zehaf-Bibeau stormed the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa after killing Canadian soldier Nathan Cirillo at the National War Memorial. In January 2017, six men were killed and eight were injured after a mosque shooting in Quebec City. And in 1985, a planted bomb exploded on an Air India plane, killing 329 victims, 280 of who were Canadian. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau described the act as the “single worst terrorist attack” in Canada’s history. Canada has even been affected by terrorist attacks that have occurred in the United States. For example, when the twin towers were struck on September 11th, 2001, 22 Canadians were killed. Granted, while the travesty did not affect Canadians nearly to the extent it affected Americans, it still took innocent Canadian lives and forced Canadians into a state of shock and terror.
Terrorist attacks in Canada, such as the tragic Air India bombing, lead to the development of new laws. For example, from the Air India bombing came the formation of the Kanishka Project, a national strategy that funded major research projects, publications, and more to develop Canadians’ knowledge of terrorism, and thus to help effectively counter it. The Project funded close to 70 initiatives; it also strove to help others understand what terrorism meant in the Canadian context.
Additionally, these attacks resulted in the implementation of the Anti-terrorism Act (ATA). Created following the 9/11 attacks, the ATA amended the Criminal Code, among other Acts. It helped enact measures to battle terrorism while continuing to promote and respect the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. For instance, the DNA warrant scheme in the Charter was extended to allow the use of forensic DNA technology in the investigation and prosecution of terrorist offences. The ATA also amended the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) Act to expand Canada’s financial intelligence unit in order to allow for the ability to detect and deter terrorist financing.
Overall, the Canadian government is taking adequate security measures to help promote and maintain peace in our country. Terrorism is terrible, tragic, and the world would be truly blessed without it, but it is unfortunately a part of our reality. We must act accordingly, such as by implementing new acts that involve heavily researched strategies, and by amending old ones after reflection on how to best strengthen their content. Lastly, we must strive to do better. While the Canadian government has demonstrated awareness of terrorism’s severity and has shown a desire to improve protections against it, there is always more that can be done to defend against the violent, often extremist, acts that deeply threaten our society.
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