Ter­ror­ism pre­ven­tion be­gins at home

On­tario gov­ern­ment seek­ing ad­vice from ex­perts on ad­dress­ing youth rad­i­cal­iza­tion

The Hamilton Spectator - - CANADA & WORLD - JESSICA SMITH CROSS

TORONTO — On­tario is look­ing for ad­vice on how to pre­vent youth from be­com­ing rad­i­cal­ized and drawn into ex­trem­ist groups.

The Lib­eral gov­ern­ment has is­sued a re­quest for pro­pos­als, seek­ing one or two ex­perts to do re­search and re­port back on youth rad­i­cal­iza­tion.

Michael Coteau, the province’s min­is­ter of chil­dren and youth ser­vices, said Tues­day that the gov­ern­ment is con­cerned about all kinds of rad­i­cal­iza­tion.

“We’ve seen young peo­ple be­ing brought into ter­ror­ist groups, we’ve seen young peo­ple join white su­prem­a­cist groups,” he said. “We’ve seen ex­trem­ism in so many dif­fer­ent forms.”

Some Cana­di­ans who have joined the Is­lamic State of Iraq and the Le­vant have gained pub­lic­ity, in­clud­ing On­tario-born John Maguire, who joined ISIL and re­leased a video call­ing on Mus­lims to launch at­tacks against Cana­di­ans. He and two other Ottawa men were charged with ter­ror­ism of­fences. He is be­lieved to have been killed.

Coteau said he be­lieves young peo­ple can be­come rad­i­cal­ized when they don’t see a fu­ture.

“We need to make sure young peo­ple know that there are many op­tions and we’re here to sup­port them, and we have their back as a gov­ern­ment, as a com­mu­nity and as a province,” he said, adding it’s too early to tell what kind of gov­ern­ment pro­gram the re­search on youth rad­i­cal­iza­tion could lead to.

The re­quest for pro­pos­als posted on­line asks for re­search that “will con­trib­ute to min­istry’s un­der­stand­ing of youth rad­i­cal­iza­tion process and iden­tify prac­ti­cal ways of pre­vent­ing” it.

“The pro­posed so­lu­tions and ap­proaches should be aligned with the min­istry’s vi­sion of an On­tario where chil­dren and youth have the best op­por­tu­nity to suc­ceed and reach their full po­ten­tial and fo­cus on strate­gies and re­silience fac­tors that con­trib­ute to pre­ven­tion of youth rad­i­cal­iza­tion,” it says.

The re­search must be spe­cific to youth, and sep­a­rate from se­cu­rity ap­proaches and in­for­ma­tion con­cern­ing the rad­i­cal­iza­tion of adults.

Coteau cited a deadly shooting at a Que­bec City mosque ear­lier this year and what he sees as in­creas­ing race-based hate in the United States as rea­sons for his grow­ing con­cern about youth rad­i­cal­iza­tion.

Alexan­dre Bis­son­nette, 27, was charged with six counts of first-de­gree mur­der and five counts of at­tempted mur­der with a re­stricted weapon fol­low­ing the Jan­uary shooting at the Is­lamic Cul­tural Cen­tre of Que­bec City.

The fed­eral gov­ern­ment has also promised ac­tion to com­bat rad­i­cal­iza­tion, in­clud­ing the es­tab­lish­ment of an Of­fice of the Com­mu­nity Outreach and Counter-rad­i­cal­iza­tion Co-or­di­na­tor.

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