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A tale of two countries and two terrorism levels

We in Canada have longstanding ties to the UK.  We were, after all, part of the British Empire for a over a century and by Confederation a sizeable part of our population had come from the British Isles.  Even well after 1867 immigration was dominated by Irish, Welsh, Scots and English families seeking a new […]

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Is Canada returning to an era of Sikh extremism?

Parliament Hill in Ottawa is one of those treasures found only in liberal democracies.  Anyone can show up and lobby, protest, shout his lungs out or carry a placard peacefully and silently, no matter what the cause.  It is also a great place to watch the fireworks on Canada Day as long as enjoying the […]

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When terrorists become statesmen

I see that Martin McGuinness died the other day. Mr. McGuinness was an Irish republican, a member of the Sinn Fein political party and, until he left politics in part because he was stricken with cancer, the Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland from 2007 to early 2017. He was also, according to some, a […]

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Can terrorism be forgiven?

Imagine that you are the parent of Steven Sotloff, or Alan Henning, or Moaz al-Kasasbeh, all of whom were assassinated brutally by Islamic State. The first two were beheaded while the third, a Jordanian pilot, was burned alive.  Your children were taken from you and died in some of the most horrific ways possible. Now […]

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Should Salafism be banned to prevent terrorism?

It is often a difficult question for governments to decide which activities to allow and which to ban. There are clear cases where certain actions should not be tolerated, like murder for instance, and we have laws to take care of those.  Some argue, however, that governments should just stay out of our lives, that […]

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Terrorism as political tool

Terrorism eats up a lot of our time as citizens and news consumers.  IS.  AQ.  Boko Haram.  Hizballah.  Hindu extremists.  Anti-abortion extremists.  Boy, things have really changed since I was a kid.  Sure there was the odd story about a hijacked airplane and the Troubles in Ireland, but it wasn’t a daily occurrence (maybe it […]

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Brothers in arms?

Last week I was asked to speak at the Canadian Military Intelligence Association annual conference in Ottawa. The speakers’ list included the Canadian National Security Advisor (and former Director of CSIS) Richard Fadden and Chief of Defence Staff General Vance. The day was well attended by members of the Canadian intelligence community. On the tables […]

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Sects and violence

As worthy and beneficial as religion can be, it is nevertheless true that religion has also been behind some of the worst forms of violence.  We in the West tend to see religion as a nice thing to have although I think we are increasingly moving towards a post-religious society, at least in Canada.  Whatever […]

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Simply dotty

Today marks the 30th anniversary of the terrorist attack against Air India flight 182 which fell into the sea off the coast of Ireland, taking with it 329 lives, the vast majority of them Canadians.  Many fail to recognise that the bombing was the largest single terrorist attack prior to 9/11. So as we remember […]