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

Cedar Valley Lodge, LNG Canada’s newest accommodation for workers at the LNG Canada Project site in Kitimat. The most recent outbreak among workers at the project site was just declared over. (Photo courtesy of LNG Canada)
Second COVID-19 outbreak at LNG Canada Project site declared over

The outbreak was first declared on Dec. 16, 2020

CGL has closed down the two lodges affected to everyone except the essential staff. (Black Press file photo)
All COVID-19 cases associated with Coastal GasLink outbreak deemed recovered

Outbreaks occurred at CGL project accommodation sites in Burns Lake and Nechako Local Health Areas

Prince Rupert Branch of BC SPCA has partnered with the Greater Massett Food Bank to provide pet food to guardians in need during the pandemic, Joe Griffiths manager of BC SPCA said on Jan. 6. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)
Greater Massett Food Bank partners with BC SPCA

Greater Masset Food Bank has recently received more than 800 kg of pet food for those in need

Northern Health said their new portal can be used by Northern B.C. patients to access various health-based information and results, including COVID-19 test results. (K-J Millar/Black Press Media)
New digital portal available for Northern Health patients

Northern B.C. residents can use HealtheLife to access various health-based information

Keith the curious kitten is seen on Nov. 4, 2020 at the Chilliwack SPCA. Friday, Jan. 22, 2021 is Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Jan. 17 to 23

Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day, Pie Day and International Sweatpants Day are all coming up this week

(Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
‘Targeted’ shooting in Coquitlam leaves woman in hospital

The woman suffered non-life threatening injuries in what police believe to be a targeted shooting Saturday morning

JaHyung Lee, “Canada’s oldest senior” at 110 years old, received his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. He lives at Amenida Seniors Community in Newton. (Submitted photo: Amenida Seniors Community)
A unique-looking deer has been visiting a Nanoose Bay property with its mother. (Frieda Van der Ree photo)
A deer with 3 ears? Unique animal routinely visits B.C. property

Experts say interesting look may be result of an injury rather than an odd birth defect

Standardized foundation skills assessment tests in B.C. schools will be going ahead later than usual, from Feb. 16 to March 12 for students in Grades 4 and 7. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. teachers say COVID-affected school year perfect time to end standardized tests

Foundational skills testing of Grade 4 and 7 students planned for February ad March

Sooke’s Jim Bottomley is among a handful of futurists based in Canada. “I want to help people understand the future of humanity.” (Aaron Guillen - Sooke News Mirror)
No crystal ball: B.C. man reveals how he makes his living predicting the future

63-year-old has worked analytical magic for politicians, car brands, and cosmetic companies

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Terry David Mulligan. (Submitted photo)
Podcast: Interview with longtime actor/broadcaster and B.C. resident Terry David Mulligan

Podcast: Talk includes TDM’s RCMP career, radio, TV, wine, Janis Joplin and much more

Seasonal influenza vaccine is administered starting each fall in B.C. and around the world. (Langley Advance Times)
After 30,000 tests, influenza virtually nowhere to be found in B.C.

COVID-19 precautions have eliminated seasonal infection

Most Read