ARCHIVED - Speech for Minister Toews at the Symposium on Measuring the Effectiveness of Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) Programming

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Ottawa, Ontario
March 27, 2013

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Good morning.

It is a great pleasure to welcome all of you to Ottawa, and to this Symposium.

I'm pleased to be here with my Deputy Minister, François Guimont, and I extend my appreciation to the Global Counterterrorism Forum and the Center on Global Counterterrorism Cooperation for working with my department to organize this Symposium.

I'd like to take a few minutes to speak with you today about Canada's actions to counter terrorism and violent extremism - both at home and abroad.

Like all peace-loving nations, Canada has put a clear focus on international cooperation.

We must work together to denounce terrorist acts, to monitor developments in unstable nations, and to take appropriate actions to deny and respond to the threats posed by terrorism.

Over the past several years, global conflicts and the causes that drive terrorism have continued to evolve.

We have witnessed tumultuous change in several countries in North Africa, Asia, and the Middle East - change that has had an impact on the stability of many of these countries

We're seeing that the longstanding conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq remain in transition, and that terrorism remains a problem in both countries.

Part of our efforts to combat terrorism include, strengthening our laws to deter terrorist-related activity within our borders and to support Canadians who fall victim to these acts.

That's why we passed the Justice for Victims of Terrorism Act, which allows victims of terrorism to sue listed foreign states for committing an act of terrorism or for supporting listed entities under the Criminal Code.

That's why we list terrorist entities under the Criminal Code - to send a strong message that Canada will not condone terrorist activity.

While terrorist threats may seem to take place far from Canadian shores, we cannot hide our heads in the sand and pretend that we are immune.

Without a doubt, one of the greatest threats facing democratic nations today is the threat posed by “home-grown” violent extremists - individuals who seek to harm others in pursuit of overtly political, religious or ideological objectives.

There is a real concern that new and evolving conflicts in the world may lure youth to engage in violent extremist activities at home and abroad.

Canada, like all nations, has a responsibility to guard against its citizens travelling to areas of turmoil and participating in terrorist acts.

That is why our Government introduced Bill S-7, which makes it a criminal offence to leave Canada for the purposes of participating in or facilitating terrorist activity.

We must actively work to prevent individuals from being recruited overseas to learn a terrorist trade, and possibly to return to Canada or elsewhere to commit further acts of violence.

To move forward on both combating terrorism and countering violent extremism, we launched Canada's Counter-terrorism Strategy a year ago.

The Strategy is composed of four elements - to prevent, detect, deny and respond to terrorist threats.

It sets out a clear approach for Canada to address terrorism, with a focus on building community resilience.

A resilient society challenges and rejects the ideas and values associated with violent extremism, and works together to mitigate the impacts of a terrorist attack.

Ultimately, the success of our Strategy relies on collaboration with Canada's international partners, security intelligence and law enforcement agencies, all levels of government, industry stakeholders, civil society and communities.

International cooperation on counter-terrorism initiatives is a key component of Canada's Counter-Terrorism Strategy.

Since 2005, Canada's Counter-Terrorism Capacity Building Program has provided training, funding, equipment, technical and legal assistance to other states so that they are able to prevent and respond to terrorist activity in accordance with international counter-terrorism standards and obligations.

We also promote international cooperation in fora such as the G8 Roma-Lyon Group, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Regional Forum and, of course, the Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF).

As you know, Canada co-chairs the Forum's Sahel Working Group with Algeria, and we are working with GCTF members to advance priorities of the Countering Violent Extremism Working Group, co-chaired by the United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom - this Symposium is a key deliverable of that Group.

Much of our work here in Canada focuses on research, community outreach, training and awareness, and engagement with key stakeholders.

For example, our Government is investing $10 million dollars over five years in the Kanishka Project - an initiative that is creating a vibrant network of researchers that will help develop more effective policies for countering terrorism.

You will hear more about this project during this Symposium.

We are also making concerted efforts to reach out to Canadians and local communities to establish trust, relationships and understanding between them and the departments and agencies responsible for national security.

Since I became Minister of Public Safety, I have been fully committed to the Cross-Cultural Roundtable on Security, an advisory group to Government wherein we engage leaders from a variety of ethnic communities across Canada in an ongoing dialogue on national security issues.

I have personally met with many young Canadians and community leaders through this Roundtable and through other outreach efforts.

These meetings have given me an opportunity to engage in open and frank discussions as part of the Government's ongoing work to nurture trust and understanding with these communities.

For example, in June of last year, I met with representatives from the Somali-Canadian and Muslim-Canadian communities to hear about their concerns and struggles.

One of the key issues they have consistently raised with me is how to prevent at-risk youth from turning down a path of criminal activity and potentially terrorism.

I understand and recognize the importance of family and community in combating violent extremism and the need to empower communities in their initiatives to promote increased social cohesion and sense of belonging.

Through regular dialogue with and amongst communities, and by working together to support our youth, we can find solutions to the issues facing our young people today.

In fact, I firmly believe that, without the support of these communities, our Government cannot fully accomplish our goal of countering radicalization and home-grown extremism.

As Deputy Minister Guimont will discuss, we have an array of programming in place to prevent violent extremism and are continually determining its effectiveness.

Today, you are here to advance the work we have begun together, to discuss best practices, and to discover new ways to measure and evaluate these programs.

Part of my job as Minister of Public Safety, is to ensure that the investments we make in these efforts are indeed effective.

I am very interested, therefore, in the outcomes of this Symposium - I welcome your input and expertise on programming to counter violent extremism, and how Canada and our international partners can move forward collectively and effectively.

Working together, through symposiums like this, we can make the world a safer place - now and for the future.

Thank you for your time, and I wish you all the best for this Symposium. 

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