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Scope of right-wing extremism vexed security officials, documents show

OTTAWA — Newly released documents show Canadian security officials have been grappling not only with how to address the growing threat of right-wing extremism, but also the best means of defining the phenomenon and explaining it to the public.

In a briefing for deputy ministers responsible for national security, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service and the RCMP openly asked whether, given the nature of the threat, the government of Canada was “able to effectively respond?”

The secret briefing was aimed at providing the senior officials with an overview of right-wing extremism in Canada and fostering discussion of “broader considerations” on dealing with the issue.

A heavily censored version of the April 2019 document was released through the Access to Information Act.

Ralph Goodale, public safety minister at the time, also received a briefing on the issue, an accompanying memo indicates.

CSIS, which has spent much of the last two decades investigating jihadi-inspired terrorism, said last year it was increasingly preoccupied by those looking to support or engage in violence that is racially motivated or ethno-nationalist in nature.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 26, 2020.

The Canadian Press