Public Safety Minister Bill Blair announced today that the federal government will designate 13 groups as terrorist entities, adding some white nationalist and neo-Nazi groups to a list already populated with militant Islamist organizations.
The federal government will now classify the Proud Boys (a neo-fascist organization with chapters in Canada and the U.S.), the Atomwaffen Division, AWD (a group that calls for acts of violence against racial, religious and ethnic groups), and the Base (another neo-Nazi organization that advocates for violence to incite a race war), as terrorist entities under the Criminal Code.
The government considers these three groups, along with another new addition, the Russian Imperial Movement (a Russian paramilitary group with ties to neo-Nazi groups worldwide), as “ideologically motivated violent extremists.”
The Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) defines the term as extremism driven by a range of grievances and ideas from across the traditional ideological spectrum.
It is not necessarily a crime to be a member of these groups, but designating an organization as a terrorist entity can have serious criminal and financial consequences.
Banks can now freeze assets and police can charge anyone who financially or materially supports such a group.
A group is added to the terrorist list if Canada’s security and intelligence agencies, after an “extremely rigorous” probe, finds “reasonable grounds to believe that an entity has knowingly participated in or facilitated a terrorist activity,” the government said in announcing the new designations.
Last month MPs voted unanimously to call on the government to add the Proud Boys to the terror list following the storming of Capitol Hill in Washington D.C.
Proud Boys have been under watch
Multiple media reports have linked Proud Boys members to those who stormed Capitol Hill after a speech by then-U.S. president Donald Trump on Jan. 6. A self-described organizer for the Proud Boys has been arrested for taking part in the siege.
A security official, speaking on background, said the Proud Boys have been under review for some time and the Jan. 6 attack “wasn’t the only factor and it wasn’t the driving factor” in designating the group as a terrorist entity.
“It’s a group that we’ve been looking at as a community for a while,” the official said.
The official said the Commons motion, pushed by NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, was not a motivating factor in designating the Proud Boys as terrorists.