Supporters of President Donald Trump rally at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Jose Luis Magana

Supporters of President Donald Trump rally at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Jose Luis Magana

Canada weighs listing Proud Boys as terror group after U.S. Capitol riot

Several members were nonetheless among those who stormed Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.

Authorities are collecting information about the right-wing Proud Boys group as part of a possible terrorist designation, the federal Liberal government said Sunday as it faced calls to ban the organization over its role in last week’s Capitol Hill riot.

Public Safety Minister Bill Blair’s office stopped short of saying when — or even if — the Proud Boys would actually be added to Canada’s national list of terrorist organizations, which includes such groups as al-Qaeda, Hezbollah and the Islamic State.

Blair spokesman Mary-Liz Power instead specifically named it as one of the “ideologically motivated” extremist groups that are being closely watched as Ottawa looks to counter the threat posed by white supremacists and other right-wing organizations.

“Our national security and law enforcement agencies are very actively engaged in monitoring the activities of these groups, and gathering the evidence required to support a determination of listing as a terrorist organization,” Power said in an email.

READ MORE: Rioters breach the U.S. Capitol

Founded by Canadian Gavin McInnes, the Proud Boys are a right-wing group that is unapologetically misogynist and increasingly linked to white supremacy and hate. It was later banned by Facebook and Instagram in October 2018 for violating their hate policies.

The group first made headlines in Canada when several self-identified members in the Royal Canadian Navy disrupted an Indigenous protest in Halifax in 2017, and has since grown its international profile and membership.

U.S. President Donald Trump famously declined to condemn the Proud Boys during a U.S. presidential debate with Joe Biden in September, instead telling the group to “stand back and stand by.” He later joined Biden in denouncing the group.

Several members were nonetheless among those who stormed Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., following a speech by Trump last week, according to numerous media reports. In response, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh has led calls for the federal government to ban the group from Canada.

Power did not say when authorities first started monitoring the Proud Boys as a potential terrorist threat.

“Terrorist designations are not political exercises,” she added. “They involve a legal process requiring evidence and intelligence.”

Created in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks on the U.S. in September 2001, the terror list includes more than 50 organizations. Groups on the list may have their assets seized, and there are serious criminal penalties for helping them carry out extremist activities.

READ MORE: Democracy takes work, Trudeau says in condemning ‘violent rioters’ incited by Trump

Many of the listed organizations are Islamic terrorist groups such as al-Qaeda, Boko Haram, Hezbollah and the Islamic State, but two right-wing groups — Blood & Honour, an international neo-Nazi network, and its armed wing, Combat 18 — were added in June 2019.

Queen’s University terrorism expert Amarnath Amarasingam described the Capitol Hill riot as the type of “watershed event” that often sparks debate around whether to classify a specific organization as a terrorist group.

While the government and law-enforcement agencies will need to rationalize adding the group to the list, Amarasingam suggested that wouldn’t be hard even as he dismissed suggestions such a decision is not political.

“We basically would not be talking about the Proud Boys if there wasn’t a sea change happening right now with how governments, social media companies, and communities are dealing with far-right groups. It’s not only political, but it’s very much political,” he said.

“Governments want to send a message that this sort of thing is not going to be tolerated, and that applies to far-right groups as well. I think it’s about time.”

Lee Berthiaume, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Domestic TerrorismDonald TrumpUSA

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

An Island Health graph showing COVID-19 cases in the central Island by local health area between Dec. 27 and Jan. 23. (Island Health image)
Central Island’s COVID-19 case spike shifting, says Island Health

Cowichan Valley has seen the highest number of cases, but Nanaimo and south Island seeing upticks

Extensive water on No. 4 and 5 at the Mount Brenton Golf Course following heavy rains earlier this month. (Photo submitted)
Mount Brenton Golf Course does a booming business in 2020

A total of 15,000 more rounds played than the previous year

The memorial site for double-murder victims Nellie Williams and Fran Shurie, located in Charles Hoey Park, will be allowed to stay for another two months after the City of Duncan changed its policy on temporary memorials. (Robert Barron/Citizen)
Duncan allows temporary memorials to stay longer

Policy change related to memorial for double-homicide victims in city park

Snow is sticking to the ground on Malahat Drive at Shawnigan Lake Road. (Drive BC)
Snowfall warning issued for Malahat

10 centimetres of snow expected between Goldstream and Mill Bay

The North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP have arrested a prolific offender who is now facing more than 40 charges. (Black Press file photo)
‘Priority offender’ arrested in Cowichan Valley faces more than 40 charges

Tyler Elrix, 37, had a history of evading police; was ordered not to be in Vancouver Island

(Twitter/Ateachersaurus)
The Pachena Bay shoreline in 2013. (Twitter/Ateachersaurus)
This week in history: 9.0 magnitude quake struck under what is now called Vancouver Island

According to First Nations elders, the 9.0-magnitude quake in 1700 CE kick-started a tsunami

B.C. Premier John Horgan speaks at B.C. legislature on the province’s mass vaccination plan for COVID-19, Jan. 22, 2021. (B.C. government)
COVID-19 quarantine not an option for B.C., John Horgan says

Apres-ski parties increase risk, not interprovincial travel

Worker at Swartz Bay terminal on Monday, January 20, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito)
Former BC Ferries employee alleges he was fired because of his race

Imraan Goondiwala has been granted a BC Human Rights Tribunal hearing

Rodney and Ekaterina Baker have been ticketed and charged under the Yukon’s Civil Emergency Measures Act for breaking isolation requirements in order to sneak into a vaccine clinic and receive Moderna vaccine doses in Beaver Creek. (Facebook/Submitted)
B.C. couple who travelled to Yukon for COVID vaccine ineligible for 2nd dose until summer

The province is ensuring those eligible to receive the vaccine get the second shot within 42 days

(File)
Mask dispute in court leaves Vancouver cop with broken leg

Man allegedly refused to put on a mask and resisted arrest

(Kraft Dinner/Twitter)
Kraft Dinner launches candy-flavoured mac and cheese just in time for Valentine’s Day

Sweet and cheesy treat will be here just in time for the cheesiest holiday of the year

SAR crews worked late into the night Tuesday to rescue an injured snowboarder in North Vancouver. (Facebook/North Shore Rescue)
Complicated, dangerous rescue saves man in avalanche near Cypress Mountain

North Shore SAR team braves considerable conditions to reach injured snowboarder

A Cessna 170 airplane similar to the one pictured above is reported to be missing off the waters between Victoria and Washington State. Twitter photo/USCG
UPDATE: No sign of small plane that went down in waters south of Vancouver Island

Searchers out on both sides of border between Victoria and Port Angeles

Most Read