The Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) has warned about an increase in “anti-authority” and “anti-government” sentiment since the beginning of the pandemic when civil liberties were suspended.
“Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, IMVE [ideologically-motivated violent extremism] activity has been fueled by an increase in extreme anti-authority and anti-government rhetoric, often rooted in the weaponization of conspiracy theories,” CSIS assistant director Cherie Henderson said, speaking to members of parliament.
In February, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau invoked the Emergencies Act, freezing the bank accounts of those who supported the Freedom Rally civil liberties protests, which increased opposition to the government and its strict Covid measures.
“CSIS has noted a marked increase in violent threats addressed at elected officials and public servants,” he continued, adding that the agency would continue its efforts to monitor sentiment.
CBS reported that Royal Canadian Mounted Police's Deputy Commander Michael Duheme agreed that IMVE activity has increased, but claimed that it was not a result of coordinated violent groups but personal and “very individualized ideologies.”
The director general of national security at the Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, Leslie Soper, said there were different motivations for the increased activity.
“It may be aligned to what we might traditionally call right-wing extremism. It may be motivated by other factors; anti-mandate. It could be motivated by other societal factors,” Soper said.