Canada Launches Right-Wing Extremism Research Project

Today in Security: Canada Launches Right-Wing Extremism Research Project

​The Government of Canada announced funding last week for an updated, comprehensive overview of the right-wing extremist movement in Canada as part of an effort to better understand extremism and prevent radicalization before violent incidents occur. 

The University of Ontario Institute of Technology will receive $366,985 over three years from the Canadian government to examine right-wing extremism through interviews with law enforcement, community anti-hate activists, and former and current extremists. The university and the Institute for Strategic Dialogue in London, UK, will also analyze online content and media coverage to inform local responses to hate speech and hate crime.

The research will culminate in an up-to-date national survey on the beliefs, motivations, activities, and connections that characterize right-wing extremism in Canada. This information will support law enforcement, the intelligence community, policy makers, and community organizations.

"The most important job of a government is to keep its citizens safe," Karen McCrimmon, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, said in a press release. "Daesh and Al-Qaeda are not the only sources of dangerous extremist violence. A growing concern is right-wing extremism, such as white supremacists and neo-Nazis who fuel violent anti-Semitism. It is critical that we understand the factors that are leading towards hate and intolerance, including how right-wing extremism can inspire the murder of six Canadian citizens near Quebec City, and how it can feed misogynistic violence, such as the brutal van attack along Yonge Street in Toronto. Working with Canadian and international experts to deepen our understanding of these issues will help us prevent them. Our country is strengthened by its diversity, and members of all communities must feel safe and be safe in Canada."

The attack in Quebec City​ was carried out by a lone gunman who opened fire at a mosque, killing six and wounding 18 people during evening prayers on 29 January, 2017. The perpetrator, a 27-year-old college student, is described as a loner with anti-immigrant and anti-feminist views.

The vehicle attack on Yonge Street, Toronto, on 23 April 2018, killed 10 people and wounded many others. The suspect praised mass shooter Elliot Rodger and referenced the Incel (or "involuntary celibate") community in a Facebook message posted minutes before the attack began.

Security Management's March cover story, "Alone Together and Angry: An Incel Revolution​," investigates the Incel movement and what risks it poses to safety and security. 

​"Much like other recognized extremist groups, there is a well-worn path leading from radicalization to mobilization. In many ways the path to becoming an Incel is no different from the path to other extremist groups like ISIS. The Internet has allowed isolated people to connect, which in turn can increase the potential for radicalization," Steven Crimando wrote.

"With the support of the Community Resilience Fund, our project will garner crucial insights into the contemporary dynamics of right-wing extremism in Canada," Dr. Barbara Perry, a professor and faculty member at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology, said ​in a press release about the new Canadian research project. "The landscape in Canada has changed dramatically since we published the first study in 2015. Since then, right-wing extremism groups seem to have grown in number, membership and visibility. This is a disturbing trend that creates a hostile, frightening environment for some communities. The project will help to identify vulnerabilities that can be exploited to weaken the movement."