A House of Commons committee is calling on governments to provide more money to front-line community organizations trying to stem the tide of ideologically motivated violent extremism.
In a new report, MPs on the public safety and national security committee also recommend a national summit to discuss how existing mental health and social services can better equip and educate such practitioners.
The suggestions are among 33 recommendations – touching on everything from better online content regulation to a review of terrorist financing law – to address the burgeoning phenomenon.
The Canadian Security Intelligence Service says ideologically motivated violent extremism is driven by xenophobia and grievances related to gender, opposition to authority or other personal causes, sometimes in combination with one another.
CSIS director David Vigneault said recently that while this vein of extremist activity represents a threat to all Canadians, the sense of fear is particularly acute for individuals and groups traditionally targeted by racism, discrimination and harassment.
The committee recommends the federal government explore models adopted by other jurisdictions, such as Australia and the U.K., to implement a “made-in-Canada solution” to better tackle such extremism and the spread of online hate.
The report says each committee member is sensitive to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms issues that come into play in responding to the threat. “Any limitations on freedom of expression must be reasonable and justified in a free and democratic society.”
The committee sees value in devoting more resources to – and engaging more of Canadian society in – addressing the human element of ideologically motivated violent extremism.
It also calls for more attention to protecting the targets of such attacks. “As so many witnesses observed, this will require the involvement of every element of Canadian society.”
The committee also recommends:
- Development of legislation, using a human rights-based approach, to adequately fund and modernize the authorities of Canada’s security intelligence community, with emphasis on the changing nature of technology and the role of social media platforms in the evolution of violent extremism;
- Funding of research to investigate how extremist organizations are attempting to recruit individuals within the military and police services;
- Stronger means in the Canadian Armed Forces and federal law enforcement to hold personnel accountable when found to be supporting violent extremist movements;
- Consultation of survivors of ideologically motivated violence to ensure support and response systems reflect their needs;
- Study of a regulatory structure to hold online platforms accountable for enforcing their terms of service, with measurable monitoring;
- Consultation of affected communities and police to identify gaps in existing law and law enforcement regarding harmful online content, while upholding Charter rights
- Investments to ensure better identification and removal of automated bots used to amplify extremist content accessible to Canadians online.
For subscribers: Get exclusive political news and analysis by signing up for the Politics Briefing.