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  • Author: Chris Madsen
  • Publication Date: 05-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal of Military and Strategic Studies
  • Institution: Centre for Military, Security and Strategic Studies
  • Abstract: If the terrorist attacks of 9/11 on New York City and Washington D.C. were a rude wake-up call for potential security threats to continental North America, the reaction on part of Canada has been measured and typically cautious. The acts were of course immediately condemned and temporary refuge given to thousands of travellers stranded by closure of airspace over the United States until declared safe. The federal government and most Canadians extended sympathy and offers of assistance to their closest neighbour and main trading partner. Close cultural and economic ties between the two countries ensured as much. Unease, however, set in about the tough talk and next progression characterized by President George Bush's now famous “You're either with us or against us” speech. Canada's then Liberal prime minister decided not to send the Canadian military wholeheartedly into the invasion of Iraq, though deployment of Canadian troops in Afghanistan duly became a major commitment. Reassuring the United States of Canada's reliability and loyalty as a partner was imperative. To this end, the federal government tightened up financial restrictions on potential fund-raising by identified terrorist groups, introduced new legislation and bureaucratic structures focused on security issues, and better coordinated intelligence gathering and information sharing activities across government agencies and with principal allies. Canadians convinced themselves that any possibility of a 9/11 scale terrorist attack on Canada was unlikely, and even if one was planned or happened, the effect would be minimized by the pro-active measures of authorities. Selected use of security certificates and arrest of home grown Islamic terrorists, the so-called Toronto 18, apparently showed that the police and intelligence agents were up to the task. The threat of terrorism, if not eliminated, could at least be managed and thwarted when required to provide a reasonable level of safety to the Canadian state and society. Ten years on, the course of events has shown the chosen policy decisions to have been mostly sound. Though the highest leadership of Al Qaeda remain at large and defiant as ever in their stated resolve to attack the West, Canada has not yet experienced a major terrorist incident since 9/11.
  • Topic: Economics, Government
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States, Iraq, New York, Washington, Canada, North America