Ideologically-Motivated Violent Extremists

Date: October 30, 2020

Classification: Unclassified

Branch/Agency: CSIS and Public Safety


This tasking follows a briefing with the Minister of Public Safety.

Proposed Response:

Ideologically-Motivated Violent Extremists


Canada is not immune to acts committed in the name of ideologically, politically or religiously motivated violent extremism, with the 2017 shooting at the Islamic Cultural Centre of Quebec City, the 2018 van attack and 2020 spa attack in Toronto.

The motivations behind violent extremists have become more complex. Individuals who commit violent acts are no longer influenced by a singular and definable belief system, but a range of very personal and diverse grievances. For that reason, CSIS took a leading role in developing an understanding and terminology that more accurately depicts the broad range of terrorist and violent extremist threat facing Canada.

CSIS stopped using terms such as “right-wing” and “left-wing” and instead uses ideologically, politically or religiously motivated violent extremist – this language is reflected in the Minister’s mandate letter to capture the complex landscape of these threat actors, and is reflected in CSIS’ 2019 Public Report.

The terminology we use when discussing threats to our national security matter. It matters not only to understand the threat posed by various violent extremist threat actors but also to ensure we are not using words that unintentionally or unfairly stigmatize any given community.

An ideologically-motivated violent extremist conducted an machete attack in a Toronto massage parlour on 24 February 2020, killing a 24-year-old mother and injuring two more individuals. The 17-year old suspect was charged with first degree murder and attempted murder.


Prepared by: N/A
Approved by: [Redacted], Deputy Director Policy and Strategic Partnerships, [Redacted]

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