Terrorism in Canada: Victims and Perpetrators


  • Alex Wilner Senior Researcher, Center for Security Studies (CSS), at the ETH Zurich, Switzerland


This article investigates Canada’s evolving counterterrorism policy in light of emerging global and national trends. It provides a retrospective overview of recent developments in terrorism and counterterrorism and forecasts the nature and scope of future threats. The argument holds that Canadians have historically been both victims and perpetrators of terrorism. By unpacking terrorism into its international, regional, and homegrown dimensions, the article offers a framework with which to more precisely investigate Canada’s relationship with terrorism, delineate threats, and assess the efficacy of various countermeasures. The article concludes by illustrating several emerging trends and by approximating the manner in which Canadian counterterrorism will continue to evolve over the coming years.

Author Biography

Alex Wilner, Senior Researcher, Center for Security Studies (CSS), at the ETH Zurich, Switzerland

Alex Wilner is Senior Researcher at the Center for Security Studies at the ETH Zurich (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology). He joined the ETH in October 2008 as part of the Transatlantic Post-Doc Fellowship for International Relations and Security (TAPIR). Born in Montreal, Alex completed his doctorate in 2008 at Dalhousie University and holds a Master's degree, also from Dalhousie, and a Bachelor's degree from McGill University. His dissertation, Deterring the Undeterrable: The Theory and Practice of Coercing Terrorists, and doctoral research were awarded Social Science and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC, 2007/2008) and Canadian Department of National Defence Dr. Ronald Baker Doctoral Scholarships (2006/2007, 2007/2008). Alex is a Fellow with the Centre for Foreign Policy Studies, a Fellow in Security and Defence Policy at the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies in Halifax, and a Research Fellow with the Macdonald-Laurier Institute in Ottawa. Alex has published his work in a number of academic journals, including, Studies in Terrorism & Conflict, Journal of Strategic Studies (forthcoming), International Journal, Global Change, Peace & Security, Canadian Naval Review, Israel Journal of Foreign Affairs, and the Journal of Military and Strategic Studies and contributes regularly to the Globe and Mail and the National Post. He is currently co-editing a volume and preparing a manuscript on the subject of deterring terrorism.






Special Section: Issues in Canadian Military and Strategic Studies. Dr. Gavin Cameron, Guest Editor