Worried about terrorism? Not us.

A new poll shows that 10 years after 9/11, Canadians aren’t concerned about the threat of terrorism

Worried? not us

Steve Payne/The New York Times/Redux

Even though memories of 9/11 remain vivid for Canadians, the threat of terrorism is hardly at the top of our minds. An Innovative Research poll done for Maclean’s shows that 27.1 per cent of Canadians consider 9/11 to have been the most important international development of the last decade, ranking it just slightly higher than the credit crisis of 2008 (26.2 per cent) and well above other developments like climate change and the rise of the middle class in China and India. Which isn’t to say 9/11 has had a lasting impact on our national psyche. Asked to name the one issue that concerns them most, just 3.4 per cent of respondents identified the threat of terrorism. Indeed, Canadians are much more likely to be worried about the state of our health care system (19 per cent) and the potential for another recession (18.2 per cent) than they are of a repeat of 9/11.

That may be partly explained by the seemingly widespread perception among Canadians that terrorist attacks aren’t likely to affect them personally. If terrorist threats are to happen at all, Canadians believe they’ll target people other than themselves. Nearly eight in 10 Canadians say they’re either not very concerned or not concerned at all that someone they know could fall victim to a terrorist attack. A comparably meagre 3.9 per cent say they are very concerned about the possibility. The online poll had 1,066 respondents and a margin of error equivalent to plus or minus three per cent.

But Canadians have come to some firm conclusions about the fallout from 9/11. As a nation, we’ve grown particularly skeptical about the benefits of the two wars that followed the attacks. Canadians are twice as likely to say the war in Afghanistan made the world a more dangerous place as they are to say it made the world safer. The divide is even more stark when it comes to Iraq: Canadians are more than four times more likely to say the war in Iraq made the world more dangerous rather than safer.

“There’s a sense that the security apparatus around airports dropped the ball [on 9/11] and that fixing that would be a good way to stop it from happening again, not going to wars in distant lands,” says Greg Lyle, the managing director of Innovative Research. “If you want to prevent terrorism at home, the answer is better security at home.” Indeed, to most Canadians, 9/11 was at least in part a security failure, with 51 per cent saying the attacks could have been prevented with better surveillance. Moreover, they’ve grown accustomed to heightened airport security. Nearly two-thirds of respondents say it is critical to preventing future attacks.

But governments shouldn’t take that to mean Canadians would welcome law enforcement snooping in their private lives. Opposition to the monitoring of private phone calls (81.2 per cent), emails (83.2 per cent), and text messages (81.1 per cent) is as fierce as it is widespread. Even among those who say they are very concerned about the terrorist threat, a solid majority opposes increased surveillance of private communications.

The poll results suggest the federal government could have a fight on its hands when it comes time to push through its so-called “Lawful Access” legislation this fall, which would require Canada’s Internet service providers to hand over customer information to authorities without court orders and to conduct real-time surveillance of their networks. “People don’t like the concept of surveillance as the answer to this,” Lyle says. “If you are running a security apparatus in Canada, you’ve got to be frustrated by this because it says you’ve got a lot of work to do to earn the right to use some of the tools that might be pretty helpful to you.”


Worried about terrorism? Not us.

  1. Gee, it would also be “mighty useful” for every Canadian to have an identity barcode tattooed on his/her forehead. As a recent article about Canadians being denied entry into the US because of non-criminal mental episodes, the implications of the surveillance state are far-reaching. But they only seem to affect the proles. Meanwhile, for our “elite”, it’s business as usual.

    • Actually, the mental health episode you are mentioning affects the elite as well.  In Alberta, if you have a family member or colleague who has a “breakdown” of some form at work – even if it turns out to be medically induced…let’s say it is a bleed in their brain….and they begin acting beliigerant and won’t go in an ambulance so you call the police.  They will be transported to the hospital using a special form.  That will be recorded with the police on a record and that record will be available should that person ever sign a waiver for an employer to check their “criminal” record.  Now, will the employer/US Customs understand that the person was incapcitated and had to be brought to hospital for medical reasons…..not likely.  That is why, if your employer asks for a crimal check, get it yourself and specify “only a criminal record check”….that is if you have ever experienced a police escort to the ER.

  2. In the first place the terrorists’ enemy is the US not Canada. However that doesn’t mean they wouldn’t use Canada to gain access to the States and that wouldn’t be so difficult knowing how soft Canada’s intelligence and security services are. The Americans know this and were almost positive that the 9/11 perpetrators came through Canada but fortunately for Canada they didn’t and the US was very appreciative of Canada’s help after the event but that isn’t to say that they aren’t a little paranoid about guarding the northern border. Although Canada is small potatoes on the international scene, it doesn’t mean there wouldn’t be an attack here on the Americans’ best friend so Canada should try hard to overcome the laxity evident in just about every facet of the Canadian government and especially security. Let’s hope they are beefing up that same security.

    • “….knowing how soft Canadian intelligence and security services are”
      You make this statement based on what information?  In 1999, one man was STOPPED at the Canadian/US border with explosives and plans to blow up Los Angeles for the millenium and Canada becomes a notoriously lax country for security at the borders.  Never mind that we have thwarted our own attack on parliament, etc.
      Perhaps it is the fact that whenever something untoward occurs, our “best friend”, the US, blames us because we are a convenient target….gee what am I thinking about…oh….power failures, terrorist attacks….then when it turns out that it is THEIR security failure and THEIR own homegrown power failure, they dismiss it and people like you blame us, saying some imagined short-coming in Canada is the reason the US thought we were at fault in the first place.
      As for added security, the Americans aren’t following the examples of the experts – the Israelis – and using psychological screening in airports – so it makes me wonder how much of their “war on terror” is about a political agenda.  You keep people afraid and then you present yourself as the candidate who is going to keep them safe.

  3. Dear Canadians – Thank you for opening your skies to American aircraft during the 9/11 attacks. From what I’ve read, Transport Canada and Nav Canada started the operation immediately. I don’t imagine there was a plan, but rather a commitment to principle at a time of unknowable consequences. I remember images of US aircraft safely parked at Halifax and other Canadian airports. There were hundreds of aircraft that carried tens of thousands of souls.

    And thanks to your troops, and their families.

    – An Arizonan

  4. Calm down healthcareinsider, the US will still protect Canada as its partner but you have to allow them a little paranoia, after all 9-11 did happen on their side of the border and Canada’s laxity in both immigration and justice is very evident in its own media so it’s not a stretch to feel the same way about security. Funny though, the worry about its southern border is not security from terrorism. Interesting, don’t you think? Maybe it does go back to the border incident in 1999 since that terrorist travelled across Canada in his car loaded with explosives having done his planning in Montreal, I believe, and was luckily caught on the American side. Of course that wouldn’t happen today or would it? That is the question we’re discussing from opposite sides of the subject. 

    • There are still far too many people who have not studied the 9/11 Bush/Cheney/Rice induced retoric to the extent where they understand what actually caused 9/11 and the resulting wars.

      Here is some reading material to start you off:
      The Road to 9/11– Griffin
      9/11 and American Empire — Intellectuals Speak Out
      The Official 9/11 Reader –Michael Moore
      Towers of Deception — Zwicker

      That’s just a start.  Check out the Official 9/11 Commission Report to see all the omissions.
      Everything that has been said by American government officials post 9/11 should be taken with a large grain of salt.

      • i disagree totally with your statements.
        imbiciles like you should not have access to internet .

        • You totally disagree, do you?
          How many of the books listed above have you read?
          You are smarter than all the PHD’s and others of good repution who wrote the books?
          How many letters to the editor of Maclean’s have you had printed in their weekly magazine?
          If you want to debate this, fine; but to simply make a blunt statement without any real points made, and by using name calling as your basic argument is an indication of your intelligence.

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