National Security Issues

Fifth Generation Wireless Networks (5G)

  • The safety and security of Canadians is of paramount concern, and we will make appropriate decisions regarding 5G technology in due course.
  • The Government is carefully examining the security challenges and potential threats involved in 5G technology while recognizing the importance it will have for the continued development of our connected and digital economy.
  • The Government's technical, economic, foreign policy, and security experts are all involved in this examination which will determine the best way to maximize the many social and economic opportunities of 5G for Canadians while minimizing the risks.

If pressed on the security of current networks:

  • The Government of Canada takes the security of Canada's telecommunications networks seriously.
  • Since 2013, the Canadian Security Review Program has worked to mitigate the cyber security risks stemming from designated equipment and services, including Huawei in 3G/4G and LTE networks.
  • The Government will continue to work with telecommunications service providers and vendors to mitigate security risks in current and future networks as 5G technology is adopted by Canadians.



  • Wireless networks are the modern infrastructure on which the global data driven economy is built. The global telecommunications sector is undergoing a transition from fourth generation wireless technology to fifth generation (5G). 5G networks will operate at significantly higher speeds and will provide greater versatility, capability, and complexity than previous generations. As a result, 5G networks will become a crucial component of Canada's critical infrastructure. The full implementation of 5G in Canada's federally regulated wireless telecommunications sector will take several years beginning with the 5G spectrum auction in 2020.
  • It is anticipated that 5G technology will enable applications and innovations that will provide many new economic opportunities for Canada such as those associated with the Internet of Things, smart cities, connected and automated vehicles, and remote surgeries. However, in order to leverage this opportunity for economic growth through 5G, the safety and security of the technology must be ensured.
  • Incidents resulting from the exploitation of vulnerabilities by malicious actors will be more difficult to safeguard against, and could have a broader impact than in previous generations of wireless technology.
  • The Government of Canada is conducting an ongoing examination of emerging 5G technology and the associated economic opportunities and security risks. Particular consideration is being afforded to the foreign relations, economic, national security, and technical implications. Public Safety Canada (PS), Innovation, Science and Industry Canada (ISIC), the Communications Security Establishment (CSE), the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), the Department of National Defence (DND), Global Affairs Canada (GAC) and the Privy Council Office (PCO) have been working closely to consider every possible dimension to this complex situation.


  • The security of 5G wireless networks has been at the forefront of domestic and international media stories. Canada's Five Eyes partners have all made public announcements on how they plan to protect 5G wireless telecommunications networks. These policies range in specificity from the naming of specific entities to generic statements of intent to bolster security.
  • The United States has been Canada's most vocal partner, strongly encouraging countries to carefully weigh the security considerations of 5G technology. Outside of the Five Eyes, several likeminded countries are also carefully considering what equipment will provide acceptable levels of security for their network infrastructure.
  • In the recent NATO leader's declaration (4 December), NATO and Allies, within their respective authority, committed to ensuring the security of their communications, including 5G, recognizing the need to rely on secure and resilient systems.

Current Network Security

  • In the context of current 3G/4G/LTE networks, a Canadian Security Review Program is in place to mitigate cyber security risks. CSE actively engages with Canadian TSPs and equipment vendors to help ensure the security of today's existing Canadian telecommunications infrastructure.
  • The program has been in place since 2013, and has helped mitigate risks stemming from designated equipment and services under consideration for use in Canadian 3G/4G/LTE telecommunications networks, including Huawei. To date, this program has led to:
    • excluding designated equipment in sensitive areas of Canadian networks;
    • mandatory assurance testing in independent third-party laboratories for designated equipment before use in less sensitive areas of Canadian networks; and,
    • restricting outsourced managed services across government networks and other Canadian critical networks
  • As the Government prepares for the implementation of 5G infrastructure in Canada, the expertise and experience developed through the Security Review Program will be important in assessing cyber threats and risks of emerging technology.

Version 1; 2019-12-09
Source: [e.g.] QP Note on Fifth Generation Wireless Networks (5G), 2019-12-09

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Violent Extremism/Extremist Travelers

  • The Government takes seriously all forms of violent extremism, regardless of their ideology.
  • Investigating, arresting, charging and prosecuting any Canadian involved in terrorism or violent extremism is our priority.
  • Canada is also investing in the prevention of radicalization to violence, as set out in the National Strategy on Countering Radicalization to Violence, launched in December 2018.

If pressed on Canadian Extremist Travelers (CETs)

  • Our Government condemns the acts of Daesh, and is committed to protecting the safety and security of Canadians.
  • It is a Criminal Code offence for any Canadian citizen or Permanent Resident to travel abroad to support or engage in a terrorist activity.
  • Investigating, arresting, charging and prosecuting any Canadian involved in terrorism or violent extremism is our priority.
  • In addition, the Government can also leverage a full range of counter-terrorism tools.

If pressed on the number of charges (CETs)

  • Investigating, arresting, charging and prosecuting any Canadian involved in terrorism or violent extremism is our priority.
  • In addition, the Government can also leverage a full range of counter-terrorism tools. These tools include:
    • investigation, surveillance and monitoring;
    • intelligence gathering and lawful information sharing;
    • terrorism peace bonds;
    • legally authorized threat reduction measures;
    • cancelling, revoking and refusing Canada passports on national security grounds; and,
    • denying boarding, under the Passenger Protect Program, to prevent threats to transportation security and travel by air to commit certain terrorism offences

If pressed on right-wing extremism

  • The Government of Canada takes the threat of right-wing extremism very seriously.
  • Investigating, arresting, charging and prosecuting any Canadian involved in terrorism or violent extremism is our priority.
  • Canada has also quadrupled the Security Infrastructure Program to help religious and cultural organizations protect themselves.
  • We are and is funding critical research and programs that address violent right wing extremism and all forms of violent extremism.
  • For the first time, Canada added two right-wing extremist groups: Blood & Honour and Combat 18 to its list of terrorist entities. 


Violent Extremism

  • Individuals associated with the violent extremism (VE) threat are traditionally driven by hatred and fear. It includes a wide range of individuals, groups, and online communities that back a wide range of issues and perceived grievances.
  • CSIS continues to see attacks by these individuals motivated by VE ideologies worldwide. Recent examples include the Tree of Life Synagogue shooting in Oct 2019 in Pittsburg that killed 11 individuals and the March 2019 terrorist attacks in Christchurch, NZ that killed over 50 people.
  • Canada is not immune to acts committed by VE. The 2017 shooting at the Islamist Cultural Centre of Quebec City, in which 6 Canadians were killed and 19 injured, and the 2018 van attack in Toronto which killed 10 people, are recent examples.
  • In Canada, individuals who hold these VE views are active in communities of likeminded people, often online. Violence in Canadia motivated in whole or in part by individuals holding VE views has been sporadic and opportunistic.

Canada Centre for Community Engagement

  • The Canada Centre for Community Engagement and Prevention of Violence (Canada Centre) was launched in 2017 and leads the Government of Canada's efforts to counter radicalization to violence in all its forms, including far-right extremism. The Canada Centre's activities include: developing policy guidance; promoting coordination and collaboration among a range of actors to prevent radicalization to violence; funding, planning and coordinating research to better understand the issue; and funding targeted programming through the Community Resilience Fund (CRF).
  • On December 11, 2018, the Canada Centre launched the National Strategy on Countering Radicalization to Violence. In February 2019, the Government announced the launch of a National Expert Committee on Countering Radicalization to Violence, which will work to advance the work of the Canada Centre and the priorities of the National Strategy.
  • While Canada has faced a variety of threats stemming from violent extremism in recent decades, the main terrorist threat to Canada continues to be violent extremists inspired by terrorist groups such as Daesh and al-Qaeda. However, individuals espousing and engaging in violence can be inspired by any extremist group promoting such behaviour. For example, some individuals within the far-right movement have espoused, glorified, promoted, and even engaged in violence.

Canadian Extremist Travelers

  • Individuals have travelled to Syria and other countries from around the world - including from Canada - to engage in violent extremist activity. Often referred to as foreign terrorist fighters,' these individuals are involved in a variety of activities including frontline combat, fundraising, operational planning and disseminating online propaganda. This issue threatens Canadian interests through destabilization in the Middle East and the exacerbation of the international terrorist threat. Of particular concern is the prospect that individuals with ties to violent extremist or terrorist groups could return to their home countries, including Canada, to conduct terrorist attacks or attempt to radicalize others to violence.
  • As per the 2018 Public Report on the Terrorist Threat to Canada, there are just over 190 individuals with a nexus to Canada who are abroad, including in Syria, Iraq, Turkey, Afghanistan, Pakistan and North and East Africa. These individuals have travelled to support and facilitate violent extremist activities, and, in some cases, to directly participate in terrorist acts. In addition, the Government is aware of approximately 60 individuals who have returned to Canada that are suspected of engaging in violent extremist activities abroad. Of those 60, only a small number of those have returned from Turkey, Iraq, or Syria. In 2013, offences specifically related to leaving or attempting to leave Canada for the purposes of committing certain terrorism offences were enacted in the Criminal Code. Since then, a total of 12 individuals have been charged with specific terrorism travel offences.
  • The RCMP actively investigates Canadian extremist travellers (CETs) to collect evidence with a view to laying criminal charges and supporting successful prosecutions. Where law enforcement is not able to collect sufficient evidence to lay terrorism charges, other options will be considered to manage the threat. The inability to collect the necessary evidence may be due to the requirement to protect sensitive sources and techniques used in intelligence investigations from disclosure or where the information would not be considered admissible in criminal proceedings. In these cases, security intelligence and law enforcement agencies will adapt to address the threat. Canada's security intelligence and law enforcement agencies prioritize the detection and disruption of potential threats by leveraging the mandates and tools of all government departments and agencies.
  • Canada can utilize a number of tools in responding to potential threats posed by CETs and returnees:
    • The Passenger Protect Program mitigates threats to transportation security and disrupts air travel for terrorism purposes through operational measures such as a denial of boarding.
    • Public Safety Canada (PS) can cancel, revoke or refuse passports in order to prevent threats to the national security of Canada or other states.
    • Terrorism Peace Bonds can be used when there is a "reasonable fear" that an individual may constitute a terrorist threat but there is not enough evidence to lay criminal charges.
    • Bill C-59 has enhanced the capacity of the security and intelligence community to detect and mitigate the threats posed by returning CETs.
  • Some individuals may be suitable for programs designed to help disengage from violent extremism and reintegrate into Canadian society. PS, through the Canada Centre for Community Engagement and Prevention of Violence, provides national leadership in this area, ensuring resources are in place to support programs. These programs do not replace or prevent our security and law enforcement agencies from doing their work: namely monitoring, investigating, and potentially building a case for prosecution. Rather, these programs are another way of mitigating the threat posed by returning violent extremists, while also addressing health and social problems of families and children returning from conflict zones. Effort is made to ensure interventions are trauma-informed, age and gender appropriate. These programs are not limited to returning violent extremist travellers but are also available to individuals in Canada who are radicalizing to violence. In addition, the Government is engaging diverse communities and internationally on this issue.
  • The Government of Canada is continuing its multilateral partnerships to improve coordination, information flow and capacity building, such as through the Five Eyes, NATO, the G7, the Global Counterterrorism Forum, the Global Coalition Against Daesh, and INTERPOL.

Community Resilience Fund (CRF)

  • Through the Community Resilience Fund (CRF), the Canada Centre's grants and contributions program, PS supports research and programming to build the evidence base along with local capability and capacity to counter radicalization to violence in Canada. Examples include investing in establishing an updated, comprehensive view of the beliefs, motivations, activities and connections that characterize the rightwing extremism movement in Canada and will include an analysis of online content and media coverage, led by the University of Ontario Institute of Technology. As well, the CRF is funding Moonshot CVE to provide positive content to vulnerable individuals searching for violent extremist material online and support practitioners across Canada by informing them about the harmful content being consumed in their communities, as well as content that can successfully challenge hateful ideologies.
  • The 2018-19 Call for Applications closed on March 25, 2019, and the Canada Centre has finished the project assessment process, with funding announcement forthcoming.

Security Infrastructure Program (SIP)

  • In response to concerns raised by a number of communities across Canada regarding their vulnerability to hate-motivated crime, the Communities at Risk: Security Infrastructure Program (SIP) was created in 2007. The SIP is delivered through Public Safety Canada's National Crime Prevention Strategy and provides funding to private, non-profit organizations linked to a community at risk of hatemotivated crime, to make security improvements to their community gathering spaces.
  • Most recently, in response to the sharp increase in police-reported hate crime in Canada, Budget 2019 has proposed an additional $2 million in ongoing annual funding for the SIP.
  • Since being introduced in 2007, the SIP has provided over $10 million in funding to 324 communities across Canada. According to the 2017-2018 Evaluation of the National Crime Prevention Strategy, all SIP funding recipients who were surveyed for the evaluation agreed that the SIP had increased their sense of security and had reduced the incidence of hate-motivated crime at their facilities.

Terrorist Listings

  • The Criminal Code sets out a terrorist listing regime to help prevent the use of Canada's financial system to further terrorist activity, and to assist in the investigation and prosecution of terrorist offences.
  • Listing an entity carries significant consequences. Banks and financial institutions must freeze all the assets of a listed terrorist entity and all persons in Canada, as well as Canadians abroad, from knowingly dealing with such assets.
  • The listing mechanism takes into account both the manner in which terrorist groups actually operate and the fundamental need for prevention. The fact of being listed establishes an entity as a "terrorist group" as defined under the Criminal Code, which triggers the application of certain offences related to terrorist financing, terrorist related travel and terrorist recruitment. This strengthens law enforcement's ability to take action against domestic members and supporters of terrorist entities.
  • There are currently 60 terrorist entities listed pursuant to the Criminal Code. The last addition to the list occurred in June 2019, when the Government listed, for the first time, two right-wing extremist groups: Blood & Honour (B&H) and Combat 18 (C18). B&H is an international neo-Nazi network whose ideology is derived from the National Socialist doctrine of Nazi Germany and who have carried out violent actions, including murders and bombings in North America and in several EUmember states.
  • Canada and the United Kingdom are the only Five Eyes countries to have listed a right wing extremist group.
  • Public Safety Canada works with key departments and agencies in the security and intelligence community to determine which entities should be considered for listing in order to help address a variety of threats stemming from violent extremism. The assessment process is continuous and action will be taken should a need be identified.

Version 0: 2019-11-26
Source: [e.g.] QP Note on Violent Extremism, 2019-11-26

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Enhanced Passenger Protect Program

  • The Enhanced Passenger Protect Program will reduce the number of travellers that are erroneously flagged against the Secure Air Travel Act (SATA) list, while continuing to safeguard national security.
  • Following the passage of Bill C-59, and the amendments to the SATA, the Government of Canada will be taking over the responsibility of screening all passenger manifests against the SATA list. This will ensure effective, consistent and rigorous screening of the SATA list while improving privacy and fairness to Canadians.
  • Under the amendments, the Government is also establishing the Canadian Travel Number program, which will allow Canadians who believe they have the same or similar name to an individual on the SATA list to apply for a number that will help distinguish them from listed individuals.
  • The Government has also amended the Passenger Protect Program administrative recourse process. An individual's name will be removed from the SATA list if a decision on their recourse application is not rendered within 120 days.
  • The Government has also introduced the Disclosure to parent provision, which enables a delegated authority to disclose to parents, legal guardians or tutors that a child is not on the SATA list.

Key Facts

  • Budget 2018 allotted $81.4 million over five years, starting in 2018-19, and $14 million ongoing to Public Safety, CBSA Shared Services Canada and Transport Canada to implement the Enhanced Passenger Protect Program.


  • The Anti-terrorism Act, 2015, enacted the Secure Air Travel Act (SATA), which authorizes the Minister to establish a list of persons who may pose a threat to transportation security or who may travel by air to commit certain terrorism offences.
  • Under SATA, the Government can use the PPP to prevent listed individuals from boarding a flight.
  • The PPP is an important element of Canada's national security framework and addresses the continued threat of individuals travelling abroad to engage in terrorism offences.

Version 0; 2019-12-02
Source: [e.g.] QP Note on Transforming Federal Corrections, 2019-12-02

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