Ottawa’s planned national counter-radicalization centre will help root out lone wolf and copycat attackers – no matter what kind of messaging inspires them, said Canada’s public safety minister, a week after one man was charged for shooting and killing six Muslim men at a mosque in Quebec City.
The centre will investigate radicalization of all kinds with the goal “to be able to find a way to detect this behaviour better … and then to identify the right ways, with the right people at the right time to intervene in that behaviour, before it leads to tragedy,” Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said in an interview on The West Block.
In the wake of the tragedy in Quebec City, Goodale said lone wolves and copycats are the hardest for authorities to predict, detect and catch.
“If there’s a large plot involving a number of different people, usually they leave tracks,” he said.
“If it’s an individual that’s maybe being drawn down a dark path toward radical behaviour … very often there’s little evidence to go on until they actually do what they’re going to do.”
A look through Bissonnette’s online paper trail suggested he had a reputation for expressing support for far-right and nationalist ideologies on social media.
He was not previously known to police, but was considered a “troll” by some online. He repeatedly expressed support for French nationalist Marine Le Pen, whose party’s stance against mass immigration is considered xenophobic by its critics.
“There’s radicalization to violence of all kinds.” Goodale said. “And you need to have the right knowledge base and the right tools and the right information and the right people in order to deal with all of it.”
It doesn’t matter whether an individual or group is influenced by the Islamic State, white nationalists or anything in between, the minister said.
“We need to know whether they’re galvanized by anything. Their behaviour is unacceptable and Canadians stand absolutely united against that kind of cruel and racist and divisive kind of attitude.”
The program will be designed to reach out to those considered vulnerable to radicalization in an attempt to nab suspected terror plots.
Goodale referenced the centre in Montreal devoted to preventing radicalization that leads to violence, as well as similar initiatives in Toronto and Calgary.
The government has said it wants the national centre up and running by next month.
With files from The Canadian Press