Pulse of Canada

Pulse of Canada: Is Canada safe from terrorism?

Each Friday, Yahoo! Canada News asks Canadians where they stand on the important issues of the day, and our panel of experts tackles the same question.

In light of a recent report that Canada was on Osama bin Laden’s hit list, this week we asked: Do you feel safe from terrorism in this country?

Here's what you said:

Do you feel safe from terrorism in Canada?A report says that Canada was on Osama bin Laden’s hit list. This week Pulse of Canada asks Canadians if they feel safe from terrorism.

Thomas Bink: I don’t think anyone can feel immune from terrorism, whether at home or when travelling to another country. You just never know when someone is going to plant a bomb on a subway, in a landmark or at a big event. There have already been suspected terrorist cells and activities in Canada. So while I don’t think Canada is as big a target as some other countries might be, I don’t think we can say we’re somehow safe from a possible attack.

Andy Radia: I agree with Tom. We're not too far removed from the Toronto 18 so I don't think any of us can afford to become complacent. Moreover, in the past decade we've been involved in military efforts in Afghanistan and Libya and more recently we've taken hard stands against Syria and Iran. Unfortunately, when you get involved in wars and conflicts, you're going to make some enemies.

Matthew Coutts: You both have fair points, but I actually do feel fairly safe. Of course I don’t have the same level of complacency I had before 9/11, but all things considered. We have had some suspected terror cells on Canadian soil, and I bet there are incidents that haven’t been made public at all. I think the Canadian government is pretty switched on about the realities we face on this front and I am reasonably confident in its counter-terrorism strategy – inasmuch as I know we have one. And internationally, I think the U.S. has made major steps under Barack Obama. Osama bin Laden’s death certainly doesn’t end things, but I think it was more than just a public relations victory. I don’t think our inclusion on bin Laden’s hit list should shake us too much.

Bink: Yeah, I don’t know, Matt. We know al Qaida is a multi-headed beast, as most terrorist organizations are, so it’s naïve to think the threat has changed. Andy’s right … the Canadian government has gotten its hands dirty in the Middle East, and we are inexorably linked at the hip to our neighbours to the south. Because of our comfort and complacency, I sometimes wonder if we might be an easier target for terrorists than the U.S. I hope I’m wrong – and that our reputation for being politically-neutral and peacekeepers more than war-mongers pervades – but I don’t think we’re free and clear by any means. Bin Laden’s hit list only reinforces that.

Radia: It's not as if I feel the desire to look over my shoulder every time I get on a subway or on to an airplane. Generally, I think both the U.S. and Canadian governments have done a good job combating terrorism. But the government needs to ensure that they continue to allocate the appropriate amount of resources into fighting terror. And the public needs to accept it. For example, we should all stop whining when the government tries to implement things like full body scans at airports and voice recorders at borders. That's, unfortunately, the age we live in.

Coutts: That is a point I fully agree with you on, Andy. We need to take certain safety measures. If the border takes a bit longer to cross, so be it. If someone ogles an X-ray of my crotch at the airport, that is a price I have to pay. Look, I know there will always be a threat to Canada. Terrorism will always be an issue in our society. It isn’t something my parents felt they had to caution me about as a child. I know I will have to talk to my own kids about it someday. But I really don’t feel as if an attack is pending. A few years ago, around the time of the Toronto 18, there was that sense. North America was outwardly antagonizing those who might want to do us harm. But there has been a pullback from that point. We are out of Afghanistan. The U.S. is ending or scaling back its own overseas military missions. These are just the obvious indicators, I know, and there is a just-as-deadly current of unseen sentiment still flowing against us. But I don’t think that we are actively making it worse. And that has got to be worth something.

Bink: I think we all agree that steps have been taken to deter terrorism since 9/11, but we should never become complacent.

What do you think? Share your opinions in the comments area below.

Pulse of Canada appears each Wednesday and Friday
on Yahoo! Canada News.