Mackenzie Institute

David James McFadden Wayback Machine University of Pennsylvania
The Mackenzie Institute
The Mackenzie Institute.png
MottoSecurity Matters
Founder(s)Maurice Arthur John Tugwell
FocusTerrorism, political research, military affairs, security issues, organized crime
PresidentD. Brian Hay
ChairmanLou Milrad
Key peopleMaurice Tugwell (founder), John C. Thompson (former president),[1] Norm Gardner (former chair), David McFadden (former chair)
Budget$93,303 (2018)

The Mackenzie Institute for the Study of Terrorism, Revolution and Propaganda is an independent and non-partisan think tank in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

It was founded in 1984 and focuses on geopolitical security matters. The institute has been a registered charity with the Canada Revenue Agency since 1992.

In 2019, it was ranked as the 36th best think tank in Canada and Mexico by the Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program at the University of Pennsylvania.


It was founded in 1984 by Brigadier Dr. Maurice Tugwell, an academic and former career British Army officer. Tugwell served in the Army from 1943 to 1978, and was awarded the rank of Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1973. After retiring from the Army, he earned a doctorate in war studies from the University of London and emigrated to Canada where he became a professor at the University of New Brunswick (UNB). Before founding the Mackenzie Institute in 1984, he founded the Centre for Conflict Studies at UNB in 1978.[2] The Institute is named after explorer Sir Alexander Mackenzie.[3]

Current activities

The Mackenzie Institute publishes online research papers on a wide variety of geopolitical security matters, with a focus on terrorism, political extremism, warfare, and organized crime.[4]

The Institute has been called upon by committees of the Parliament of Canada to provide expert testimony on security issues. This has included appearances before the Special Senate Committee on the Anti-terrorism Act[5] and the House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice, Human Rights, Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness[6] in 2005, the Special Senate Committee on Anti-terrorism in 2010,[7] the House of Commons Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security in 2015,[8] and the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence in 2016.[9]

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Institute partnered with the CEO Global Network to put on a series of webinars on security issues.[10][11]

According to the 2019 Global Go To Think Tank Index Report (Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program, University of Pennsylvania), the Mackenzie Institute ranks as the 36th best think tank in Canada and Mexico.[12]


The Institute is a non-profit organization that depends upon individual donors and charitable foundations; it does not accept government funding. It has been a registered charity with the Canada Revenue Agency since 1992, and in 2018 it had revenues of $87,926.00 against expenses of $93,303.00.[13]


The Institute has an advisory board and a board of governors. As of July 2020, the advisory board is chaired by Lewis W. MacKenzie, a retired Canadian general. The board of governors is chaired by Lou Milrad[14], a business & technology lawyer (retired), and its past chair is David McFadden.[15]


Several newspaper reports have described the Institute as a conservative or right-wing organization.[16] In 1994, journalist Michael Valpy criticized the Institute for producing what he described as an ideologically-driven report of supposed "leftist conspiracies".[17] John C. Thompson, then the president of the Mackenzie Institute, repeatedly rejected such descriptions, describing himself as a "classical liberal".[18] He has written, "If being a traditional liberal these days means being condemned as a right-wing nut, I plead guilty".[19]

In July 1995, members of the Animal Liberation Front allegedly sent a pipe bomb to Thompson's office in Toronto. His assistant could have been killed, except that the device's battery had become disconnected through mishandling by Canada Post.[20][21]

In 2005, the Institute released a report entitled "Waiting for the Kaboom: Indicators to Watch for", described as a citizen's guide to finding terrorists. In this report, John C. Thompson encouraged Canadians to watch for theft of credentials and credit cards, attempts to buy weapons in bulk, increased visits to access tunnels under office towers, and large groups of men living together "for no apparent purpose". He also warned Canadians about people wearing bulky clothing in hot weather, arguing that suicide bombers sometimes wear several sets of underwear to protect their groins for the virgins they believe martyrs receive in the afterlife. These guidelines were welcomed by some law enforcement groups, but were also met with some criticism.[22] Canada's Public Safety ministry declined to comment on the release.[23] The Mackenzie Institute later issued a revised version of the report, under the new title "Precursors of Hostile Intent: Signs of a Potential Terrorist Attack".[24]


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  3. ^ "The Mackenzie Institute". Mackenzie Institute. Archived from the original on 2007-06-07. Retrieved 2007-05-14.
  4. ^ " Profile: Mackenzie Institute". November 25, 2005. Retrieved 2006-11-16.
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  14. ^ "Lou Milrad – Business & IT Lawyer". Retrieved 2020-08-03.
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  16. ^ Michael Doxtater, "How the Mohawks look at history", Globe and Mail, 11 July 1991, A17; "Mail bombs spark public warning", Kitchener-Waterloo Record, 20 July 1995, A3; Geoff Baker, "Who's behind mail-bomb plot?", Toronto Star, 30 July 1995, A2; "Tamils protest paper's story", Toronto Star, 13 February 2000, p. 1; Rob Faulkner, "Institute offers anti-terrorism tip sheet", Hamilton Spectator, 10 August 2005, A6.
  17. ^ Valpy, Michael (July 20, 1994). "It's A Plot, I Tell You, A Plot!". The Globe and Mail.
  18. ^ John Thompson, "Defending the institute", Globe and Mail, 23 July 1991, A14.
  19. ^ John Thompson, "The liberal view", Globe and Mail, 29 July 1994, A16. See also " Murray Campbell, "Wonks", Globe and Mail, 2 December 1995, D1.
  20. ^ RCMP PROBES ANIMAL ACTIVISTS Archived 2006-06-16 at the Wayback Machine, Scott Anderson, Now Magazine, June 12–18, 1997
  21. ^ Letter bomb mystery deepens Archived 2012-07-01 at, Jen Gerson, Simona Siad & Surya Bhattacharya, The Toronto Star, Sep 01, 2007
  22. ^ Rob Faulkner, "Institute offers anti-terrorism tip sheet", Hamilton Spectator, 10 August 2005, A6.
  23. ^ Stewart Bell, "Think-tank urges public to watch out for terrorists: 'Our turn is coming soon'", National Post, 9 August 2005, A4.
  24. ^ John C. Thompson, "Precursors of Hostile Intent: Signs of a Potential Terrorist Attack" Archived 2007-06-07 at the Wayback Machine, Mackenzie Institute, current as of 20 March 2006, accessed 15 May 2007.