Canadian military knew about suspected neo-Nazi: top general

Defence chief Gen. Jonathan Vance speaks out for the first time about Master Cpl. Patrik Mathews

Chief of the Defence Staff Gen. Jonathan Vance speaks to reporters after a change of command ceremony in Ottawa on Thursday, Aug. 22, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

The military “did not miss” a Manitoba reservist’s alleged links to a neo-Nazi group, but in fact first started looking into it months before media reports on the subject began to surface, Canada’s top general said Thursday.

Defence chief Gen. Jonathan Vance was speaking out for the first time about Master Cpl. Patrik Mathews, whose case has raised questions about whether the military is doing enough to address hate and right-wing extremism in the ranks.

He promised to be more active in rooting out such behaviour and beliefs from the military ranks, and issued a stern warning to those hoping to use the Canadian Forces as a training ground or avenue to spread their “vile ideology.”

“We’re a serious institution that does serious things to protect Canadians, to protect this country, to protect our way of life,” Vance said following a ceremony to install the military’s new chief of personnel.

“We are not a place for sick hobbyists to practice their vile ideology. And we won’t stand for it. We will react and where we can be proactive, we will be. But I assure you, we will react.”

The combat engineer with the 38 Canadian Brigade Group in Winnipeg first met with his commanding officers in April to discuss “his utterances,” Vance said without providing further details. On Monday, the Winnipeg Free Press published a story linking the reservist to a neo-Nazi group.

Following that meeting, Mathews applied to leave the Forces even as military officials launched a formal investigation into his activities — a probe Vance said was underway in July, weeks before the Free Press story was published.

READ MORE: Defence minister asks watchdog to investigate racism in the military

“The Canadian Forces national counter-intelligence unit had already begun to deal with him by the time that story broke,” he said. “I’m happy to say we didn’t miss the signal.”

Mathews has not been arrested or charged with any crime, and Vance isn’t providing further details, citing privacy laws and the ongoing investigation.

The RCMP are reportedly conducting their own investigation, but have only said that they raided a house in Beausejour, Man., on Monday and seized a number of weapons.

Lee Berthiaume, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

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

Just Posted

BC Green Party leader visits Wet’suwet’en camps at heart of pipeline conflict

Adam Olsen calls for better relationship between Canada and First Nations

Commercial fishing concerns over marine protected areas

Fishermen of the Northern Shelf Bioregion seek solutions through consultations

Haida Gwaii libraries announce their most popular books from the past year

These titles had islanders booking it to the library in 2019

Route 26 reinstated from Skidegate to Alliford Bay

B.C. Ferries service will begin later in January

On the Wing: Christmas bird count reports, part 1

Haida Gwaii’s bird count report for Port Clements and Rose Spit

‘Like an ATM’: World’s first biometric opioid-dispensing machine launches in B.C.

First-of-its-kind dispensing machine unveiled in the Downtown Eastside with hopes of curbing overdose deaths

Canucks extend home win streak to 8 with 4-1 triumph over Sharks

Victory lifts Vancouver into top spot in NHL’s Pacific Division

‘Extensive’ work planned at Big Bar landslide ahead of salmon, steelhead migration

Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan visited the site of the slide from June

B.C. society calls out conservation officer after dropping off bear cub covered in ice

Ice can be seen in video matted into emaciated bear cub’s fur

Horgan cancels event in northern B.C. due to security concerns, says Fraser Lake mayor

The premier will still be visiting the city, but the location and day will not be made public

B.C. landlord sentenced to two years in jail for torching his own rental property

Wei Li was convicted of intentionally lighting his rental property on fire in October 2017

PHOTOS: Eastern Newfoundland reeling, search underway for missing man after blizzard

More than 70 centimetres of new snow fell overnight, creating whiteout conditions

Prince Harry, Meghan to give up ‘royal highness’ titles

‘Harry, Meghan and Archie will always be much loved members of my family,’ says Queen Elizabeth II

Calls for dialogue as Coastal GasLink pipeline polarizes some in northern B.C.

Coastal GasLink is building the 670-kilometre pipeline from British Columbia’s northeast to Kitimat on the coast

Most Read