How Dangerous Is Canada?

At almost 10 million kilometres squared, Canada is the second largest country on Earth It is home to more than 35 million people

It is also an economic powerhouse, with the world’s 11th largest economy based on GDP, and the 17th largest based on its purchasing power Executive Director of Fulbright Canada Dr Michael Hawes says Canada follows a “carefully constructed strategy designed to influence the minds and the hearts of foreign nationals and allow Canada to play a larger role [on the international stage]” But could this large, wealthy and powerful nation also be one of the most dangerous? Canada’s military spending is very low by international standards It has been nuclear-free since 1984 and is a signatory of the non-proliferation treaty Despite being a NATO member, the Canadian government spends only 1% of its GDP on military spending

This is half of NATO’s suggested 2% target Canada is ranked 22nd out of 126 countries on Global Firepower’s index of military capabilities It has the world’s 47th largest army Given the vast size of its landmass and population, this is surprisingly low However, this may be because Canada is not under military threat

The 2016 Global Peace Index reported that it was the second most peaceful country outside of Europe Although its forces have supported international allies in conflicts – from Korea to Kosovo – it has never sought war with another country But that is not to say the country is totally immune from danger In January 2017 a terror attack on Quebec City Mosque left six dead Three years earlier, the country suffered two terror attacks by lone, religious extremists

In 2014 Canada signed UN Security Council Resolution 2178 This means it actively supports the prevention of recruiting, organising, transporting and equipping “foreign terrorist fighters” who seek to support violent extremist groups Since 2014, Canada’s National Terrorist Threat level has remained at “medium” meaning that a ‘violent terrorist attack could occur’ This suggests the terror threat is too low to destabilise the social and political situation in Canada A 2014 report by the country’s Royal Canadian Mounted Police stated that there were 63 national security cases linked to terrorism under open investigation

In comparison, in the same year the FBI was investigating at least 1,000 US individuals with possible connections to Daesh alone Existing figures suggest that Canada’s liberal government poses minimal risk to its citizens In 2017, The Economist’s Democracy Index found that Canada was the world’s sixth freest “full democracy” in the world

In 2016, the government’s approval rating was at 44% Impressively, this was higher than they had been when they came into power the previous year However, the same government may be failing to curb dangerous criminal activity In 2015 the national crime rate rose by 3% – its first year-on-year rise in 12 years This increase included homicide, sexual assault, attempted murder, firearms offences and robbery

But these gruesome developments may not be as worrisome as they first appear University of Ottawa Professor Irvin Waller says, “An uptick on its own may not mean too muchon a per capita rate it is of course much, much lower than the United States

” Journalist Jim Bronskill suggests that the rise might be linked to a surge in gang-related violence According to the Canadian Police Survey on Youth Gangs, there are around 434 active gangs in Canada, with a total of 7,000 members Furthermore, the increase in violent crime is not nationwide It is concentrated in specific areas In the first four months of 2016, Toronto saw a 200% increase in gun homicides compared to the same period in the previous year

Conversely, Montreal had a record low of 19 firearm murders in the whole of 2016 But Canada also suffers from divisions between “settlers” and its indigenous communities, who have traditionally suffered from greater social problems A 2009 UNICEF report found that indigenous children are twice as likely be hospitalised for preventative diseases than other Canadian children Disturbingly, children are not the only indigenous groups at risk In 2016 the government finally opened an inquiry into an estimated 4,000 unsolved cases of “missing” indigenous women spanning decades

Indigenous women make up only 2% of the country’s female population, but account for 16% of women murder victims They remain ostracised by much of the Canadian population A 2013 Ipsos poll found that 60% of Canadians believe indigenous communities bring their problems on themselves These homegrown divisions do not translate to the international arena, where Canada has always held significant influence According to a report by the University of Southern California’s Centre on Public Diplomacy, “the predisposition to privilege diplomatic options has been the hallmark of its foreign policy since the end of WWII

” It does not have any adversaries on the world stage Canada is unique for a major global actor It has impressive wealth, territory and population Yet, it favours cooperation over military combat It also faces few internal threats to stability

Even mounting global tensions have failed to disturb the North American state For now at least, Canada is not very dangerous either to those inside or beyond its own borders

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