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Voice of the Commonwealth - The Global Influencer

Voice of the Commonwealth - The Global Influencer

CSIS shares concerns on threat of ideologically motivated, violent extremism

first time in history in response to a large group of Canadian truckers and their supporters who carried protests in Ottawa under the “Freedom Convoy” banner against a coronavirus vaccine mandate for truck drivers. The decision to invoke the legislation attracted sharp criticism from several parties, including world leaders. Accordingly, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called for an independent public inquiry into the matter in late-April.

This week, the director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, David Vigneault, told a special committee of parliamentarians examining the issue that CSIS was concerned by the threat of ideologically motivated, violent extremism, as well as the potential for serious harmful acts in relation to the trucker convoy. Speaking to the committee of MPs and senators on Tuesday, he said that this form of IMVE extremism represents a significant national-security threat. According to Vigneault, the combination of the ever-increasing influence of social media, the spread of conspiracy theories, together with major disruptive events like the pandemic has created an environment “ripe for exploitation by influencers and extremists.”

“This environment has the potential to inspire individuals to commit acts of violence,” Mr. Vigneault said, adding that the threat from IMVE is constantly evolving and is fueled by extreme views around race, gender, power and authority,” he said. “IMVE is a threat that thrives on division and festers in the online space. But the hateful online rhetoric associated with these views is spilling over into the real world.” He pointed to examples like the rise in anti-authority and violent rhetoric, particularly in relation to pandemic-induced public health measures.

At the time the Emergencies Act was invoked, PM Trudeau said it was a “last resort” taken to tackle blockades at border crossings in several provinces, as well as prolonged demonstrations in Ottawa, which paralyzed the nation’s capital, with the nonstop blaring of horns, traffic disruptions and harassment. The act was in place for a period of 10 days.

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