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Canadian Foreign Security Policy Essay


Security threat is a major concern for many economies. This is because terror groups have changed their ideologies and focus heavily on causing physical damages. Canada and the US are among the countries that are still facing security threats. Insecurity can affect a country’s economy, health, among other factors. Therefore, in order for an economy to develop it needs to shield itself from both internal and external attacks. Some of the threats facing Canada range from terrorist attacks, illegal immigration, drug trafficking, cybercrimes, radicalization and nuclear threats among others. These threats are similar to those being faced by other countries such as the US. These threats mainly come from global terror networks and organized crime groups. Internet technology and globalisation are the main tools used by these groups in accomplishing their missions. Security threats consume a lot of costs from a given state. Therefore, it becomes important to establish control measures rather than to repair for damages. The aim of this paper is to analyse the various security threats that are facing Canada within the next five and ten years and ways of solving them.

Security threats facing Canada

Some of the security threats facing Canada are: Non- Traditional Security Threats: These are Trans-national organized crime (TNOC), terrorism, Cyber-terrorism, radicalisation and nuclear threats. They are referred to as Non-Traditional because they attack the state indirectly. However, these threats are asymmetric. This means that they use other means such as corruption, violence and exploitation to attack a state’s main infrastructures (Charters p. 2). Therefore, they destroy buildings and hurt people leaving the victims with crippled economies.

Types of security threats the state faces in the immediate (next 5 years)


Terrorist attacks in Canada date back to the 1960s when the Front de Liberation du Quebec (FLQ) attacked Quebec. Additionally, in 1985 there was a terrorist bombing of an Air India flight. As a result of this attack 329 people that were on board the plane lost their lives. Al- Qaida is a revolutionized terrorist group that has mixed features of a cult and an international corporation. It uses globalization tools such as the Internet, mobile phones and air transport to attack western states such as Canada. This is because these states’ economies rely heavily on these modernized facilities in running many personal and business activities. The group uses a website known as ‘Terrorism.com’ to communicate with its members internationally. This way crimes are organized and executed under specific instructions which are passed over the internet. The 9/11 attack on the United States consumed lives of a dozen Canadians in addition to 3,000 people in the US.

The attack also distabilised the economy and caused human, political and psychological damage (Charters p. 3). The successful attack could also have motivated other terrorist groups to follow the same example. Al- Qaida combines Jihadism and IT; Jihadism challenges modern ways and insists on traditional ways of carrying out revenge attacks on enemies while IT supplements the group’s activities. The two ideologies find their way in to the entire world through globalization. For example, it is said that the two converged during the 9/11 attacks. The Al- Qaida group motivates its members to act locally but to think globally. With this in mind the perpetrators of crime still use the technology in carrying out attacks as a way of fulfilling the wishes of their leaders.

Trans-National Organized Crime (TNOC)

This is a major problem facing Canada’s law enforcement community. It is referred to as Trans- National because it affects various countries. This crime involves drug trafficking, prostitution and money laundering (Charters p. 7). Globalization has also led to TNOC just as it has influenced Al-Qaeda. The war on drugs started in the 1980s. The key TNOC players in Canada are the Asian gangs and East European Organized Crime Groups. They engage in traditional organized crime undertakings and they use international networks for these activities. TNOC groups only pose indirect security threats to Canada. These are threats to social stability and integrity. For example, drug trade leads to violence, high health care costs and smuggling of firearms. For example, in the 1990s a Canadian group ‘Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE)’ took part in violently harassing and extorting the Tamil community, drug trafficking among other illegal activities.

Human smuggling is also an OC- driven activity that poses insecurity to Canada. It also costs the state a lot because the welfare of the illegal immigrants is catered by the government. Expenses incurred range from $120 to 400 million annually for purposes of supporting the illegal immigrants and for law enforcement. Additionally, given that the state is unable to keep track of some of the immigrants it poses a question of integrity of Canada’s borders; the borders may not be very secure or the officials may be corrupt. Therefore, the country is prone to terrorists entering through these borders (Charters p. 8). Even though organized crime groups are engaged in various illegal and criminal activities, there has been no evidence of links between them and the terrorist groups. This is because terrorist groups would not risk exposing themselves by engaging in petty crimes involving drugs; they would rather concentrate on terror activities. Even though terrorist groups are also engaged in identity fraud and smuggling of people, money is not their goal but it is their tool (Charters p. 8).

It is also important to note that a “narco-war” is likely to result in the near future as a result of failure of civil war in the affected states. Some of the states that are likely to face this type of war are those which are exposed to drug cartels. Such cartels may in turn overpower the government because they possess a lot of power and money. Examples of such states are Mexico and Colombia. Canada will be affected because it will need to intervene in some way because of it obtains economic and commercial benefits from the region (Alpheus 1).

Radicalization has also become a major threat to Canadian security. The terrorist groups spread their word through the internet and other symbolic ways. This way they influence their followers to commit crimes claiming that it is the will of God. I this regard, the spokeswoman for the Muslim Canadian Congress ‘Salma Siddiqui’ once asked the community to assist in reducing extremist activities. According to her, Canadian Imams can criticize armed jihad. Given that such an ideology would be enforced by the imams and other religious leaders, the youth are able to follow suit. Young are easily persuaded and misled by petty gifts or eternal promises. Therefore, they are usually used for bombings and if their religious leaders convince them otherwise, they may change their stand. As a result, suicidal bombings can be reduced (Payton 1).

Types of security threats the state faces in the long term future (10-20) years

Terrorism: During 9/11 attacks, Al-Qaida claimed lives of many people in just a single attack. According to a nuclear terrorism expert, Gavin Cameron, future terrorist attacks are not a matter of “if” but “when”. This means that although it may not be clear when such an attack is likely to occur in either the next five years or ten years it is very possible to occur nevertheless (Charters p. 4). Such attacks could affect Canada either directly or indirectly. Canada will be a potential target because of its geographic, military, political, cultural and economic relationship with the US. Additionally, the Al-Qaeda group is aware that Canada is one of the states that joined the War on Terrorism. This makes the state to be prone to future terrorist attacks. Terrorism still remains a crisis that requires conflict management. Future attacks are possible and as terrorists are thinking outside the box in order to come up with bomb techonologies which are hard to detect even under security screening. However, it is hard to tell for certain the exact period that these attacks are likely to take place.


The existence of computers and fast internet speeds create a target environment for cyber-terrorists. This is because vulnerability of one user can affect several other users. Given that cyber-attacks are spreading at a high rate the level of vulnerability is rising immensely (Charters p. 5). Cyber- Terrorism is likely to affect Canada indirectly in the future. The attacks will be indirect because they might be part of the large project. This means that although terrorists aim at causing physical destruction, they may use cyberspace to recruit, generate funds and to strategise terrorist activities (Charters p. 6). This means that they may use IT facilities as a channel for accomplishing their main goal of physical attack. Additionally, as a result of cyber- crime hackers are able to access many government , military and other sites in order to steal confidential information.

There are also viruses and worms such as ‘I Love You’ that disrupt major communications systems. As a result they inflict high maintenance and prevention costs to the government. For example, total cost incurred from these viruses is more than $13 billion. However, this security threat is yet to advance to critical stages. It is also important to note that terrorists do not recognize national boundaries. Therefore, they mostly use the internet to radicalize their terror ideologies (Payton 1). So far this is the main reason why terror groups are still using cyber space.

Nuclear threats

Some countries have been amassing nuclear technology and weapons in readiness for an upcoming demand for such weapons. This demand could result from terrorist attacks. For example, Iran is well known to have gone against UN Security Council restrictions towards its nuclear program. Its nuclear prospects may prompt other countries in the Middle East to follow suit. These nuclear weapons may be used to build nuclear weapons. As a result countries like Canada which have not yet developed such technologies may be at threat. Iran already has installed 8,000 centrifuges of uranium at its plant at Natanz. The country has also built an underground uranium plant near Qom city. This facility is fit enough for storing weapons rather than for fuel production. Therefore, it could be that the storage is for future nuclear weapons. Therefore, Canada and other countries that are still against the idea of nuclear weapons may find themselves under defenseless attack (Charters p. 22).

Arab Spring’s movement into the Arabian peninsula

Many Arab countries are reuniting to form a single union. If this happens the oil prices are likely to rise. This is because the oil resource is likely to be controlled by a particular union. As a result the states in the union are likely to dictate the prices. This would in turn affect the Western countries because they would be external parties to such an agrremet. Therefore, the Arab countries are likely to enjoy subsidized prices as other countries face high end prices (Rudner p. 1). This would lead to high living costs, and economic pressure.

Threat from control over Canada from foreign activities and social order

In future Canada is very likely to be negatively affected by foreign influence over its affairs. This influence might be from its allies such as the US. Such a thing would destabilize the validity of democratic Canadian institutions. Therefore, the Canadians would feel that their freedom is threatened. Additionally, the state is likely to face increased competition in the economy. It is predicted that China will be among the most prosperous states with most of its influences being on Africa. As result, Western economies such as Canada will be facing real problems trying to market themselves in Africa. As a result of these economic pressures the welfare of the Canadians is likely to be at risk. There is also a looming threat to peace and order in Canada. This will come from violence and civil disorder. Additionally, terrorist attacks, cyber-crimes and Tran-National Organized Crimes will contribute towards this disorder. However, the country will be able to control such a problem (Capstone seminar project team 29).

Some possible solutions to Canada’s security threats

Canada should prioritise on its intelligence. This should involve developing effective and more advanced means of communication among the intelligence groups. This way the state can achieve successful campaigns and operations against terrorism. If such a strategy is applied, it can anticipate upcoming threats, warn the public against any attacks, organize investigations, capture and prosecute the terrorist groups. When the country anticipates threat it gives the security forces a chance to prevent a crime from occurring; early warning enables the government to avoid being surprised and thus reduce the effects of the attacks. With good intelligence, the government can be able to manage and allocate scarce resources appropriately. Additionally, the leaders are able to tackle the given problem in a well- informed manner.

This way the economy can grow with less resources being assigned to solving already incurred losses. However, it is important to note that not all terrorist attacks can be prevented; only surprises can be minimized (Charters p. 14). In order to enforce intelligence, Canada should expand the capacity of CSIS. It can do this by adding a foreign branch. Therefore, a separate foreign intelligence service should be created. This should involve realistic debates and discussions from the public. A new service would also require training and financial resources. According to terrorism expert, Prof. Gavin Cameron, law enforcement is the key to ensuring that radical groups are minimized. Therefore, it is important that the government allocates more resources to its security departments and forces in order to ensure that law and order is reinforced within Canadian borders (Payton 1).

The government needs to make a decision on how it will use the limited military power it has. It should be clear on what it requires the armed forces to do. It should decide if it wants them for internal security, missions or defense. The decision will be affected by the type and source of non-traditional threats, internal or international environment and on budgetary constraints. It is important to note that Canada is being faced with budgetary constraints which mean that its forces have limited ability to cater for internal, external and expeditionary missions. Presently, the Canadian forces (CF) are only able to undertake small-scale operations which are of low intensity and for a short period of time. Additionally, their efforts in countering terrorist attacks either internally or internationally are limited. This is because the force expects few attacks from terrorist groups. However, there is need for CF to conduct air control which involves surveillance, missiles and naval systems in order to protect its boundaries, nuclear plants and airliner hijackings (Charters p. 19).

Canada will also be expected to reinforce its allied relationships by conducting military expeditions. This involves peacekeeping and counter terrorism activities. This will also enable Canada to add value to the state of its allies and the UN. Additionally, Canada is likely to benefit from support from both its allies and the UN in case it is faced with terrorist attacks. Such expeditionary missions would involve a battalion, separate overseas brigades and combat elements. With its security alliances such as NATO and NORAD, Canada is able to share its culture, norms and foreign policies with its military allies. As a result the state is likely to focus or concentrate its security operations. Alliances are also flexible and involve commitments and clear objectives (“Conflict is Changing: Future Directions”).

The other solution that Canada can undertake towards facing out its security threats is review of the role of Joint Task Force 2 (JTF2). Such a group can carry out counter terrorist and civil affairs activities among others. Additionally, it can be reviewed and its size increased in order to carry out SOF and special overseas missions. However, the government needs to consider that at the moment CF cannot be in a capacity to facilitate a larger JTF2. Additionally, expansion of this force would limit the ability to carry out low intensity missions. Therefore, since expansion of JTF2 is vital, it should be incorporated in to the expansion of the entire armed force (Spruyt 1).

Canada should also resolve to secure its borders. For example, if the Northwest Passage is opened up clear regulations as well as military presence should be established. This would be in order to ensure safe passage of goods in and out of the country. Additionally, the state should enforce the F-35 program that will ensure that the state is able to operate together with the allied forces. Additionally, such a program will enable Canadian Forces to maintain aerial dominance and evade attacks from the enemies (Alpheus 1). With an alliance, several countries are able to cooperate and coordinate surveillance and as a result lead to improved security.


Security threat has been a major threat to Western economies. Canada is one of the states affected. The threats the state has been facing range from terrorism, social insecurity, cyber terrorism, radicalization, Trans- National Organized Crimes (TNOC) among others. Some of the threats have been there for long while others are expected to advance as time passes. Therefore, terrorism and TNOC have been affecting the country and are very likely to continue affecting the Canadian economy for the next five years. However, there are other threats that are likely to go on for up to ten years to come. These are terrorism, nuclear threats and cyber terrorism among others. Canada will be required to be well prepared for upcoming states such as China which threaten the future of the current superpowers.

Additionally, the state is expected to find ways of solving some of the threats that it is facing. For example, it can develop alliances with different countries or international organizations such as the UN. This way it will have to support its allies militarily in expectation of similar returns if it falls under any form of attacks. Additionally, Canada can reinforce its military intelligence in order to improve threat awareness and control. The government is also expected to wisely use its limited military resources as the limited budgetary allocations to its forces. This might mean compromising enlargement of the Joint Task Force Two security group. Therefore, it is important that Canada undertakes the recommended resolutions in order to control current threats and to cushion against future threats.

Works Cited

Alpheus “Defining ‘readiness’ critical question for forces: expert says.” iPolitics 11 Jun. 2012: 1. Print.

Capstone seminar project team. Canada in 2020: Identity Politics and Security Future Scenarios. University of Ottawa, 2009. Print.

Charters. n.d. Canadian Foreign Policy, Terrorism, and Non- Traditional Security Threats: Temporary Aberration or Permanent Condition?. n.d. Web.

“Conflict is Changing: Future Directions” n.d. Web.

Payton, Laura “Canada faces global terror threats.” Parliamentary Bureau 26 Aug. 2010: 1. Print.

Rudner. n.d. n.d. Web.

Spruyt, Hendrik 2012, And Still it Moves: Configuring NATO for the 21st Century. Web.

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