Resilience in the Face of Terrorism

November 7, 2014

Canada is not immune from terrorism. The week of October 19th, Parliament was attacked and two Canadian Army soldiers murdered, Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent and Corporal Nathan Cirillo.

These attacks, by two terrorists (the Government of Canada defines a terrorist as someone who acts to intimidate the public for political, religious, or ideological reasons) were against unarmed soldiers. One soldier was run down by a car in a parking lot, the other shot from behind without any warning.

These attacks also targeted the heart of Canadian democracy: The Parliament of Canada.

The attacks failed to achieve their objective: To disrupt our democratic way of life, our belief in democracy, freedom and the rule of law. The day after the attack, your elected MPs were back at work.

Extremist groups are present in Canada—some engage in terrorist activity here, some support terrorism abroad. Some of these groups have converted Canadian citizens to their extremist cause. While there are a number of extremist groups with different causes, violent Islamist extremism is the leading threat.

This threat is a long-term and a persistent one. The first priority of the Government of Canada is to protect Canada and Canadians, while preserving our liberties and freedoms.

The core principle of the Government of Canada’s counter-terrorism strategy is building resilience – a strategy similar to the way the British handled decades of terrorism due to the bombings and assassinations of the IRA. The ultimate goal of this strategy is a Canada where individuals and communities are able to withstand violent extremist ideologies, and where society is resilient to a terrorist attack, if one occurs.

Being resilient does not mean being passive in the face of terrorist threats. The Government of Canada is ready and willing to use force to counter terrorism – for example, the recently approved military mission to counter ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) in Iraq, the use of preventative detention or deportation.

What resilience means is that the Government of Canada cannot limit its response to terrorism simply to military and police operations. Resilience also acknowledges that it is not possible to stop all terrorist attacks, especially those of the “lone wolf” kind. Resilience speaks to the importance of ensuring a rapid return to ordinary life and reducing the impact of terrorism.

It will never be possible to stop all terrorist attacks. Nevertheless, Canadians can expect that their Government will take every reasonable step to prevent individuals from turning to terrorism, to detect terrorists and their activities, to deny terrorists the means and opportunities to attack and, when attacks do occur, to respond expertly, rapidly and proportionately.

If you are interested in finding out more about the Government of Canada’s counter-terrorism strategy, I encourage you to download the document at

If you have any questions, comments or concerns, don’t hesitate to contact me at (866) 878-5556 or at

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