Canada designates Proud Boys as terrorist organization
Canada has described the far-right Proud Boys group as a “serious and growing threat” and branded it a terrorist organization alongside Isis and al-Qaida, amid growing concerns over the spread of white supremacist groups in the country. On Wednesday Bill Blair, public safety minister, also announced the federal government would designate the white nationalist and neo-Nazi groups the Atomwaffen Division, the Base and the Russian Imperial Movement as terrorist entities. The federal government also added offshoots of al-Qaida, Isis and Hizbul Mujahedin to its list.
“Canada will not tolerate ideological, religious or politically motivated acts of violence,” Blair said.
The minister described the group as a “neo-fascist organization that engages in political violence” and whose members “espouse misogynistic, Islamophobic, anti-Semitic, anti-immigrant, and/or white supremacist ideologies.”
He said that the Proud Boys played a “pivotal role” in the mob attack on the US Capitol in January, Blair said. During the 2020 presidential debates, when Trump was asked to condemn white supremacist groups, he instead told the Proud Boys to “stand back and stand by”.
In late January, Canada’s parliament unanimously passed a motion calling on the federal government to designate the rightwing Proud Boys as a terrorist group. The motion had no practical legal impact, but spoke to a growing worry over rightwing extremism in Canada.
Ahead of the announcement, Canadian officials told reporters that they had been monitoring the Proud Boys before the Capitol Hill attack, but the event helped with the decision to list the organization.
The Proud Boys were founded in 2016 by the Canadian Gavin McInnes, a co-founder of Vice magazine. The group first made headlines in Canada three years ago, after five military reservists, dressed in the group’s black and yellow shirts, disrupted a protest by the Indigenous community over a controversial statue.
The group was banned by Facebook and Instagram in October 2018 after violating the platforms’ hate policies and is classified as an extremist organization by the FBI.
The terrorist designation does not necessarily make it a crime to be a member of these groups, but it does mean that the group’s assets could be seized or forfeited by Canadian authorities.
Experts do not believe the group has large, hidden assets, but the terrorist designation could have important consequences for individual members.
“Banks and companies like PayPal will probably not want to do business with anyone who has been outed as being a member of the Proud Boys. These kind of companies are pretty risk-averse,” Jessica Davis, a terrorism expert and former analyst with the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, previously told the Guardian.
Militia groups involved in the 6 January insurrection want to stage another attack around Joe Biden’s upcoming address to Congress, aiming to “blow up” the complex and kill lawmakers, the acting chief of the US Capitol police has warned. In alarming testimony to a House subcommittee, Yogananda Pittman said that threats were circulating that directly targeted the president’s first formal speech to a joint session of Congress. A date for the event has not yet been announced.
The theme of the 2021 Conservative Political Action Conference is “America Uncanceled.” But this week, just days before CPAC was set to kick off in Orlando, Florida, conference organizers announced they’d had to cancel one of their own scheduled speakers. “We have just learned that someone we invited to CPAC has expressed reprehensible views that have no home with our conference or our organization,” CPAC organizers tweeted Monday, referring to right-wing social media figure Young Pharaoh.
The outside group with the final say on whether Donald Trump can be reinstated on Facebook is expected to be given greater powers in the coming months to decide which content is allowed on the world's largest social network, according to Thomas Hughes, administrative director of the so-called Oversight Board.
In the wake of the Civil War, the Enforcement Act of 1871 gave presidents the power to suspend the writ of habeas corpus to protect the voting rights of Black Americans, which were under threat from the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) and other white supremacy organizations. Now, one former president stands accused of violating it.