This story has been updated to include Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s response to the storming of the U.S. Capitol.
Days after thousands of President Donald Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol, the Canadian government is denouncing the Proud Boys as a group that advances “misogynistic, white supremacist beliefs.” But the government won’t commit to designating the group as a terrorist organization.
On Wednesday, a mob of Trump supporters violently occupied the Capitol in a bid to stop the certification of the November election results, sealing President-elect Joe Biden’s victory. Members of the Proud Boys, and a number of other far-right organizations, were among those in attendance. On Monday, the group’s leader Enrique Tarrio, was arrested in Washington, D.C, and charged in connection with the burning of a Black Lives Matter sign at a Black church last month.
NDP leader Jagmeet Singh launched a petition Thursday calling for the Proud Boys to be designated a terrorist organization in Canada.
“Yesterday was an act of domestic terrorism. The Proud Boys helped execute it. Their founder is Canadian. They operate in Canada, right now. And, I am calling for them to be designated as a terrorist organization, immediately,” Singh tweeted Thursday afternoon.
(Disclosure: Gavin McInnes was a co-founder of VICE. He left the company in 2008 and has had no involvement since then. He later founded the Proud Boys in 2016.)
On Friday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told reporters the invasion of the Capitol was “an assault on democracy by violent rioters, incited by the current president and other politicians."
In a statement to VICE World News, Mary-Liz Power, spokesperson for Public Safety Minister Bill Blair said, “we strongly denounce organizations, such as the Proud Boys, who advance misogynistic, white supremacist beliefs and glorify violence. Intolerance and hate have no place in our society.”
However, Power stopped short of describing the group as a terrorist organization.
She said in 2019, Blood & Honour and Combat 18 were added to Canada’s list of terrorist groups, marking the first time white supremacist groups were added to the list.
“The listing demonstrates that our security agencies are alert to evolving threats and will not hesitate to take necessary action. The listing process is always ongoing and when an organization has been found to meet the Criminal Code threshold, they will be added,” she said.
During a presidential debate in September, Trump was asked to denounce “white supremacists and militia groups.” When he asked for the name of a group, Biden suggested the Proud Boys, to which Trump responded, “Proud Boys, stand back and stand by.”
In October, the Canadian Armed Forces participated in an online trolling campaign that involved using the hashtag #proudboys to express gay love. However, members of the Canadian military have also joined the Proud Boys’ ranks; according to the Ottawa Citizen, those men weren’t charged with anything nor were they demoted.
The NDP’s petition states that the Proud Boys are “a right-wing extreme group that promotes white supremacist views” and have been “bolstered by Donald Trump.”
“Members of the Proud Boys joined a group armed with deadly weapons as they led an assault on the U.S. Capitol – this was an act of domestic terrorism,” the petition says.
An internal military document obtained by Global News in 2019 described the Proud Boys as an “extremist conservative group that uses confrontation and at times violent tactics to promote its goals.” The report said the Proud Boys are “openly Islamophobic.”
Power said the Canadian government is providing $900,000 over the next three years to fund anti-racism initiatives including improving the reporting of hate incidents and public awareness.
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